Matthew Dumfries Ballantine, optometrist; born March 21, 1911; died December 5, 1996

MATTHEW Dumfries Ballantine (Fries) died recently at home after a short illness. Optician, businessman, sportsman, and sailor, he was well known and respected throughout the West of Scotland and beyond.

Born in 1911, he was educated at Hurst Grange preparatory school in Stirling and entered Merchiston Castle school in 1925. Before leaving in 1929 he established himself as a first-class sportsman and good friend to many, playing in the first XV with such celebrated figures as Ross Logan. He went on to play for West of Scotland Rugby Club.

Having qualified as an optometrist, Fries entered the firm of J Lizars, at that time headed by his father Arthur, who in turn had followed his grandfather, also Matthew, thus maintaining a tradition which continues to this day, some 166 years after the foundation of the firm.

During the war years, Fries became a naval officer, attaining the rank of Lt Commander, and serving at Dunkirk, Iceland, Canada, and the invasion of Normandy. He was a man particularly suited to naval life, with an outstanding ability to gain the trust of his fellow men, an ever-present sense of duty, and a longstanding love of the sea. During the war Fries married Udy Ballantine, daughter of William Russell of Colintraive, and as keen and competent a yachtsperson as he was himself. After the war they moved to the house in Fintry which became home for them and, in due course, their two daughters, for the next 50 years.

In 1946 Fries returned to the family firm in Glasgow and took over the running of the firm's optical business, subsequently succeeding his father as chairman and managing director of the company. He was active in the public affairs of his profession, serving as an executive committee member and chairman of the Society of Opticians.

During these years, while presiding over the growth and expansion of J Lizars Ltd, Fries was also managing director of the Pavilion Theatre, a role in which he found a great deal of satisfaction, and in which he made a notable contribution to Glasgow life. These were the years in which Lex MacLean, Rikki Fulton, and Jack Milroy were entertaining large audiences at the Pavilion.

At all times a dedicated and effective businessman, Fries was by no means tied to his desk. Lizars has branches in Belfast, but Irish trips were often to Dublin when Scotland was playing rugby there, and his visits to London were not infrequently in the company of other rugby enthusiasts, and were not confined to business. His association with St Abbs, in Berwickshire, where he leaves many old friends, began in early childhood and continued throughout his life.

No account of M D Ballantine would be complete without a mention of his sailing. For the most part this was on the west coast in his eight-metre Margaret, still well remembered among sailing folk, and for the last 20 years or so in the yacht Kyla-II, built for him by McGruers of Clynder. Innumerable friends have happy memories of hospitality aboard these vessels, which carried, always at the appropriate time and place, the burgees of the Mudhook, the Royal Highland, the Clyde Corinthian, and the Western Isles Yacht Clubs.

Members of the West of Scotland Angling Club, and his many shooting friends, will remember Fries as an enthusiastic sportsman who never forgot that obtaining the quarry was secondary to observing the cardinal principles of hospitality, fun, and good fellowship. It was his gift that he could bring those principles to everything he did; his business, his family, his recreation, and his local church in which he served as an elder for over 30 years.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, and five grandchildren.