Former Deputy Provost of Edinburgh;
Born: October 31, 1934; Died: September 11, 2013
Marion Morton, who has died aged 78, was a Labour member of Edinburgh City Council from 1995 until 2003 and for four years was deputy provost of the city. She was brought up in Greenock, where her father was rector of Greenock Academy, and was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School and the University of Glasgow where she graduated with honours in English Language and Literature. She then undertook teacher training at Jordanhill College.
She started her teaching career in Eastwood Senior Secondary in 1957, the year before she married her husband Andrew, at the time minister of Moncrieff Parish Church in East Kilbride. Later she taught in Woodside and Drumchapel.
In 1974 the Mortons moved to London when Andrew joined the staff of the British Council of Churches. Mrs Morton continued her teaching career in London, where she was head of English at Charles Edward Brooke Grammar School and then Rowan High School.
The couple returned to Scotland in 1982 when Mr Morton began a long involvement with the Church of Scotland's work in inter-church relations. Mrs Morton became principal teacher of English at Camelon High School in Falkirk. In her career she taught in both primary and secondary schools, and loved both her subject and her pupils. She was rigorous in her approach to both, combining caring warmth with effective discipline. She was also someone who focused on the most disadvantaged, not only in her politics but in her involvement with and concern for pupils who may have been struggling. As a prison visitor, she took a special interest in those prisoners who are most hated: paedophiles and murderers.
In 1995, she was elected as a Labour member of Lothian Council and a year later she was elected to represent the Fountainbridge area on Edinburgh City Council. In 1998 she became city licensing convener and later took charge of the council's race and equality sub-committee which was set up following the report of the Macpherson enquiry into the death of the teenager Stephen Lawrence. From 1999 until she surprised many in 2003 by not seeking re-election, she became deputy provost. A colleague described her as having a sophisticated and challenging mind that was harnessed to principle.
Always a strong internationalist, she was a determined socialist who intended to vote for an independent Scotland. Someone whose pacifism was always militant (in what is a particularly Scottish version of pacifism) she was a strong supporter of the women's protest at Greenham Common. When the protesters were removed, she began shaking the boundary fence, and there were those who said that if everyone had followed her example the fence would have been destroyed. She liked to say that she loved poetry and song, and longed to see justice and peace. While in England she was a firm supporter of the ordination of women, although ordination was not something to which she felt called.
She was a member of the visiting committee for Saughton Prison in Edinburgh and a former chair of the Edinburgh and Lothian Refugee Forum. She defied ecclesiastical labelling. She liked to say that in Church government, she was a congregationalist, in worship she was catholic, in doctrine she was a Quaker.
Her husband Andrew described a brightness and warmth in his wife, which radiated strongly from her and in which many people near and far basked. He said: "I think this came from her delight both in being alive and in people, for all of whom without exception, but in a particular way for the most neglected or despised she had love."
Alan Davies, the spokesman for Edinburgh Quakers, said Mrs Morton at various times served Quakerism as elder, overseer, clerk of the area meeting and clerk of the general meeting for Scotland. "She always went out of her way to make visitors feel welcome," he said.
As something of a romantic herself, she loved the Romantic poets, and was an ideal person to represent the city of Edinburgh on the Walter Scott Society.
Former Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Eric Milligan said: "Marion was my deputy and stood in for me on occasions. I had no hesitation about this as I knew Marion's warm personality, intelligence and willingness to do a good job would be recognised."
Mark Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, described Mrs Morton as strongly committed to her constituents and to public service. "She was always kind, courteous and considerate but also firm in her views and principles," he said.
She is survived by her husband Revd Dr Andrew Morton, two sons and two daughters.
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