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Prof John Sinclair; academic

AN APPRECIATION: The sudden death of John Henderson Sinclair shocked and saddened all who knew him.

John had a great capacity for friendship as the vast turnout at his funeral service in Crail Parish Church bore witness. It was a fitting tribute to a fine man.

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His wife, Sandra, to whom he was devoted, said to me a few days ago: “You probably knew him better than most – always late, always untidy, surrounded by papers and enormous fun. He really did find life a bit of a joke. His whole body would shake when something amused him.” All who knew John Sinclair appreciated the joy he felt in being alive. The warmth of his personality infused every gathering of which he was part.

He was educated at Craigholme School (it amused him greatly that he was one of the few boys in Glasgow to have attended this all-girl school, albeit in the nursery class), Glasgow Academy and Strathallan. He graduated with a BA from Queen’s University, Belfast, and LLB from Glasgow University.

He practised as a solicitor with Leslie Wolfson & Co and then on his own account. He was clerk, treasurer and fiscal of the Royal Faculty of

Procurators in Glasgow between 1983 and 1993. He was made an honorary member of the faculty in 1997.

For more than 30 years, he was editor of the Memorandum Book, known as the Wee Red Book, published by the Scottish Law Agents’ Society, which is regarded as essential reference material for all practising solicitors. After retirement, he continued this task and was in the course of preparing the next edition at the time of his death.

However, John Sinclair’s true metier was as a teacher. He was a lecturer in conveyancing at Strathclyde University from 1970 and, to popular acclaim, was appointed the first professor of conveyancing at that university in 1992.

He was very interested in post-graduate legal education, feeling keenly that there was a gap between university study and the practice of the law.

He became the first director of the Diploma in Legal Practice at Strathclyde in 1981 and latterly, when post-graduate legal education in Glasgow and Strathclyde universities combined, he was the first director of the Glasgow Graduate School of Law.

He was the author of the Handbook of Conveyancing Practice in Scotland, now in its fifth edition. The last edition he edited jointly with his son, Euan. An extract from the preface speaks volumes of the man: “I have taught many students, more than I can easily remember.

“It gives me great pleasure to see so many of them achieving so much. Every year has been quite different from the one before, but even in the worst times of student discontent I have found most students to be courteous, attentive, diligent, hard-working and friendly; in short, totally different from the concept of the student beloved of modern mythology.

“I therefore wish to dedicate this book to my students, past, present and – hopefully – future.” His students responded to his encouragement by positive attendance at lectures and tutorials.

He spent a vast amount of his private time assisting his students with their studies and ensuring that they were placed in traineeships after graduation. Many had particular cause to be grateful to him. Strathclyde University recognised his unique contribution by appointing him emeritus professor in 2002.

He was a past president of the Strathallian Club, the Glasgow Juridical Society, the Bridgeton Burns Club and Whitecraigs Rugby Club. He was a member of Whitecraigs Tennis Club, the Royal Automobile Club, the Western Club in Glasgow, the New Golf Club of St Andrews and Crail Golfing Society.

He loved the ambience of sports clubs. His administrative talents were made full use of by Whitecraigs Rugby Club, where he was match secretary for more than 25 years, organising three or sometimes four teams every Saturday.

While John would regard himself as an administrator, not a player, he found taking

part in sport enormous fun. A combination of different circumstances allowed me to play rugby, football, golf,

tennis and squash with him.

I am not certain he broke sweat on any of these occasions – but he was always in a position to give a full commentary on events as they unfolded. He turned out in the No 10 shirt for our office football team and was thereafter christened Eusebio.

For John family came first. He was married to Sandra for 42 years. They lived in Whitecraigs until 2002 and thereafter in Crail. His children, Euan and Caroline, were a source of great pride to him and he liked nothing better than to be in the company of his four grandchildren.

John suffered a stroke in February 2003. He fought this with tenacity and courage and made a wonderful recovery, although he did have some difficulty with his speech. However, with the assistance of Sandra and his constant smiling, he continued to be the life and soul of every social gathering.

Born November 5, 1935;

Died November 8, 2009.

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