FREEMASONRY ran deep with Sir Ronald Orr Ewing. One of Scotland's most prominent twentieth century masons, he inherited a family tradition in freemasonry to become Grand Master Mason in Scotland. His inheritance is carried forward by his son and heir, Archie, the new baronet, the current Grand Master Mason.

Orr Ewing cut a striking figure. Tall, with military bearing and distinguished air, he moved easily among society. Well-travelled in his own right, he was one of the first Grand Masters to initiate visits to daughter lodges around the world. This proved no easy task, for his period of office for four years from 1965 predated the convenience of easy air travel.

His visit to Hong Kong in the mid-1960s is particularly well remembered; he arrived in some style aboard a P&O liner and immediately cut a commanding presence in the colony. His portrait still hangs there in Zetland Hall.

He relished international relations, enjoying a close connection with the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia and lodges in Europe. His work particularly endeared him to his French counterparts, who made him honorary senior grand warden of the national Grand Lodge of France.

Successor as Scotland's senior mason to the Earl of Elgin (then Lord Bruce), Sir Ronald was inducted into the craft in 1948 in to Lodge Ancient Stirling no 30, also becoming a member of Scots Lodge no 2319 (English Constitution).

Ronald Archibald Orr Ewing was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Scots Guards in 1932, he remained with the regiment for 21 years, during which he saw action in the Second World War in North Africa. Taken prisoner at Tobruk in 1942, he was shipped to a number of PoW camps in Italy, then finally to Fontellanato in the north. Released when Italy joined the Allies, he had the misfortune to be recaptured by German forces and spent the rest of the war in Germany.

He succeeded his father, Sir Norman, 4th baronet, in 1960. The name ''Captain Norman Orr Ewing'' survives as an established pipe tune in pipe band repertoire, composed in 1912 by Pipe Major William Ross of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in honour of Orr Ewing senior as battalion adjutant.

Sir Ronald's Perthshire boyhood was spent among woodland and forest, and he developed a fascination for trees which never left him. Cheerfully, however, he would describe his recreation as forestry, his deep knowledge of the subject gained widespread respect among arboriculturalists.

Orr Ewing's family was deeply rooted in rural central Scotland. His ancestry included descent from Alexander Ewing born in Balloch around 1660, and a maternal lineage from a Campbell of Dunstaffnage (the ''Orr'' had been adopted by first baronet Sir Archie shortly after creation of the baronetcy in 1886). Sir Ronald's wife, Marion, was a younger daughter of Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, 25th chief of Clan Cameron, and his mother-in-law, Hermione, a daughter of the 5th Duke of Montrose.

His family motto, Audaciter (Boldly), could have been

created specially to describe him. His brilliantined hair

offset a dashing appearance, he enjoyed socialising and proved

immensely good company in the New Club. In 1963 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Perthshire, and was a member of the Royal Company of Archers (Queen's Bodyguard in Scotland). His business interests included the chairmanship from 1975 of Clayton Dewandre Holdings.

He died at home after an illness. His lifelong passion for freemasonry was maintained to the end, Mourners at his funeral were invited to donate to Scottish Masonic Homes rather than send flowers.

His wife, Marion, predeceased him in 1997, and he is

succeeded as 6th baronet by his elder son, Archibald Donald. He is survived by his other children Jamie, Janet, and Fiona; and grandchildren Alastair, Jasper, Jocelyn, Jemma, Jonathan, Nicholas, and Anthony.

Major Sir Ronald Archibald Orr Ewing of Ballikinrain, 5th baronet, JP DL; born May 14, 1912, died September 14 2002.