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W Gordon Davidson

An appreciation

An appreciation

The death at the age of 78 of W. Gordon Davidson brought to an end the life of a man who contributed so much to the varied spheres of activity in which he participated.

He was educated at Dardenne, Glasgow Academy for a short while, Drumtrochty Castle and Sedburgh where his love of cricket was founded. He was rightly proud of his entries in Wisden in 1953 and 1954.

On leaving school, he did his national service with the Seaforth Highlanders, during which he spent some considerable time in Aden.

On his return, he joined the Lloyds Broking firm of G J Stewart & Co in Glasgow, soon to become Stewart Smith & Co. In 1972 three firms amalgamated to form Stewart Wrightson Ltd of which Gordon became managing director. In 1987 Willis Faber & Dumas merged with Stewart Wrightson, becoming the UK's largest broker and Gordon became managing director of the merged companies in Scotland.

In 1990, Willis Wrightson merged with the US firm of Corroon and Black to become Willis Corroon, one of the top three brokers globally with 12,000 staff worldwide. Gordon was appointed chairman of the business in Scotland and remained so until retiring in 1995. He then became a non-executive director of The Scottish Friendly Society.

Through all these mergers and acquisitions, he emerged successfully, largely due to his integrity and enthusiasm, his affection for and interest in his clients, whom he loved to entertain and who in turn greatly admired him, his professional knowledge, his shrewd sense of judgment and, capping it all, his endearing personality.

Sport had an enormous place in his activities. He had a fine record in boys golf, he played a useful game of rugby and was a good squash player. His major interests as he grew older though were skiing, golf and fishing.

For many years, Gordon and Heather, his wife, skied together in Scotland, Austria, France and Switzerland. He developed a comprehensive knowledge of the European skiing scene. His dress for skiing was the same as it was for fishing and golf so he was readily recognisable.

As to golf, he was a member of many clubs. Ranfurly Castle, where he was captain in 1974/75, Prestwick where he was captain in 1994 having previously been chairman, and the Royal & Ancient of St Andrews where he became chairman of the membership committee. At other times he had been a member of Royal County Down, Royal Troon, Shiskine and Machruhanish. He was also captain of the 32 clubs in 1976. He had been a member of the Robert T Jones Memorial Trust in St Andrews for some years and had made an invaluable contribution to its work.

Fishing took him to the Spey, the Dee, the Tweed, the Tay, the Awe and other rivers and wherever he fished, the same enthusiasm and determination that he showed in business was manifest. Even in his later years as his legs became unreliable for wading he would still watch others and encourage his family members and friends to participate in his place.

He married Heather Mairhead in 1962. They had three children. Deborah, Iain and Jamie. They have seven grandchildren. They were all joined by a packed congregation at St Machar's Ranfurly Church on 18th October who all came to honour the memory of a man who stood so high in the affections of the wide cross-section of people who had know him.

He was buried in the graveyard at Colintraive near the family cottage with the marvellous outlook over that part of Scotland he so dearly loved.

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