Born: December 18, 1941; Died: October 25, 2012.
Bill Dryden, who has died aged 70 at Sooke on Vancouver Island, was a well respected academic both in Scotland and at the University of Alberta, Canada. His untimely death has come as a shock to the many who knew and loved him.
The majority of his academic life was spent in Canada, joining the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1976 as an associate professor. On arrival in the department he developed the main pharmacology course and was its co-ordinator for many years. He also made contributions to the MD programme. He was a founding member of the Centre for Neuroscience and served as its director between 1995 and 1999 where he designed a senior level course on Neuromuscular Pharmacology. Insisting on very high standards, he obtained excellent student assessments and evaluations and such was his teaching quality that he was recognised by the University of Alberta Students Union, who awarded him The Salute Award.
As well as being course co-ordinator and graduate co-ordinator he spent two years as acting chair of the Department of Pharmacology and was on the General Faculties Council. He spent a considerable amount of time on the Alberta Health Expert Committee on Drug Evaluation and Therapeutics, where his wide-ranging pharmacological knowledge was invaluable. Even in retirement he was being called upon as an expert witness by lawyers in Edmonton.
His research work had been funded over the years by Muscular Dystrophy Associations of Great Britain, of America and of Canada as well as Alberta Mental Health and the Alberta Heart Foundation He collaborated with scientists in several countries, working sabbaticals in London, China and Australia. His publications included work on calcium channels, nicotinic receptors, banana tree extracts, neurotransmitter release mechanisms, lipids and cardovascular function, skeletal muscle development and electrophysiology. He published scores of research papers and reviews over a period of 40 years and attended conferences world-wide.
He was born in Hillington, Glasgow, the elder child of Thomas and Mary Dryden. His father died when he was 10 and he took over the role of protector of his mother and younger sister. After attending Bellahouston Academy(where he was Approxime Accesit) he began his studies at Glasgow University/Royal College of Science and Technology in Pharmacy, gaining his BSc with first class honours. He managed to squeeze in maths and science courses which allowed him to also graduate from the Royal College as an associate. He gained his PhD in pharmacology at the newly opened Strathclyde University and joined the teaching staff. There followed a postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania after which he returned to Strathclyde until 1976.He was on the register of the Pharmaceutical Society for almost 40 years and took delight in occasional locum stints during brief visits home.
His early days in Hillington were to lay the foundation for much of his life. He attended the Boys Brigade(167th Glasgow) and went through the ranks to officer, enjoying camping and hillwalking, and supervising Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. He was a member of the pipe band and piping was to remain a passion with him, becoming a member of pipe bands in Edmonton and Victoria, British Columbia.
He was much in demand for weddings and Burns suppers. His religious faith was very important to him and he joined the local Presbyterian church in Edmonton where he became an elder then session clerk for a number of years. On his retirement to Sooke he again joined the local congregation and became part of the church community
Model railways and steam trains were more than just a hobby and he was equally passionate about gardening. Great was his delight when he managed to keep roses alive through the frozen winters in Edmonton. His last trip was to the beach to collect stones for his garden.
He met his wife, Angela, while on sabbatical in London and she joined him in Edmonton where they were married. They raised three children and he was extremely proud of their achievements. Family life was dear to him and many a holiday was spent in Canmore in the Rockies, skiing or snowboarding. Great was his delight on becoming a granddad, a role he cherished. One of his last purchases was of a miniature kilt for Jackson to wear at his Auntie's forthcoming wedding.
Sooke, on Vancouver Island, seemed an ideal place to retire to as it reminded him of his beloved Scotland, especially the west coast near Cove. He remained a diehard Scot (a nationalist who welcomed the forthcoming referendum) and it is back to Cove that his ashes will return. At his packed memorial service, speakers who had come from Scotland, England and parts of Canada all spoke of him as their best friend, a fitting attribute to a remarkable man.
He is survived by his wife Angela, son Colin, daughters Anna and Gillian and little grandson Jackson in Canada and younger sister in Scotland.