Taxi magnate and lifelong Rangers fan who became club chairman

John Paton, a former chairman of Rangers FC and of the Taggart motor group, has died aged 77. A man of dignity, he was warm and approachable and greeted everyone with a ready smile and a kind word.

A real success story in business, John's true love outside of his family was football in general and Rangers Football Club in particular, where he achieved a lifetime's ambition in becoming first a director and later chairman.

Born in Govan, John's early working days were varied, to say the least. He served his apprenticeship as a tinsmith and then worked with Boyd's of Shettleston, manufacturers of spinning machines. He then spent nine months in the Antarctic as a whale hunter. In later years he would look back on the time spent in that inhospitable climate and recall that it was the wages earned with the whaling crew that enabled him to take his first steps in business.

He became a taxi driver in 1947 and before long had bought his own cab. Eventually he owned a fleet. A garage in Kilpatrick Street, Bridgeton was followed by another in Arcadia Street and another in Maryhill Road. John Paton & Sons became a household name, winning the franchise to produce, repair, and respray black cabs, eventually branching into finance and insurance.

At his side throughout those successful years was his wife, Agnes. John was always at pains to emphasise the contribution she had made to the success story.

In 1971 the business was sold to Taggart but John continued to run his company. Within two years he was appointed a director of the parent company and he became chairman in 1974 - a post he held until his retirement.

John was a Rangers supporter born and bred. In later years would recall his earliest memory being that of the great Sandy Archibald. He loved to travel with the club and was a veteran of many of the early European campaigns.

He was one of a select band, sadly dwindling with each passing year, of ''True Blues'' who attended all four matches of Rangers' three European finals. One can only speculate - as John must have over the three decades since Barcelona - whether there will ever be a fifth.

The time-served tinsmith from Govan had invested in the club he loved, and on May 22, 1979 he was elected to the board of directors, succeeding the retiring George Brown, who had served the club with distinction for half a century.

Rangers were in turmoil in the wake of manager John Greig's resignation when John was appointed vice-chairman on November 11, 1983. Within two months -on January 10, 1984 - he succeeded Rae Simpson as chairman, the twelfth in the club's history and perhaps the first who could truthfully say that he had paid his cash at the turnstiles as a genuine supporter.

The era was not - it is fair to say - one of the more successful in Rangers' long and proud history. Following Greig's resignation it was John who approached Alex Ferguson - then manager of Aberdeen - to discuss his becoming Rangers boss. Ferguson declined, an indication of how desperate things were at that time.

The club struggled on the field of play and gates dwindled, sometimes at an alarming rate. This was, however, scarcely the chairman's responsibility. John's investment in Rangers was considerable, but it was still a minority shareholding. The man at the head of the board of directors was more of a figurehead than is the case today. No single shareholder held a majority position and the club was very much run by consensus.

All that changed in late 1985 when director Jack Gillespie reached an agreement to sell his shares to the Nevada-based businessman Lawrence Marlborough. That gave the Lawrence group a controlling interest and led to the appointment of David Holmes as Marlborough's representative at Ibrox. Holmes now controlled the levers of power and the Souness revolution was about to begin.

John remained as chairman during the early, exciting months as Souness turned Scottish football on its head, but on November 11, 1986 he resigned both as chairman and as a director of the club.

Typically, John returned to the Waddell Suite at Ibrox to carry on supporting the club he had followed throughout his life, but he had more to offer football and in 1989 he joined the board at Kilmarnock, where he would become vice-chairman, a position he held until his death on March 4, 2001. Agnes predeceased him last year, but John is survived by their son Billy and daughter June.