Born: July 3, 1935;

Died: August 29, 2021.

EVELYNE ANDERSON, who has died aged 86, was born in Paris but took Glasgow and the Scottish art scene to her heart when she married Ronnie Anderson in 1965. In 2004 she made history as the first-ever woman President of the Royal Glasgow Institute in its 143-year history.

Charismatic, glamorous and gregarious, she arrived from a background of Parisian cafe society and late-night jazz clubs, determined to lead a colourful life. “She was a force of nature; she always wanted to make things happen,” says her daughter Valerie.

Music and art played a central role in Evelyne’s life. For her, being surrounded by art was a necessity. “If I have paintings around me and I have music, I’m all right. They are essential to survive. They touch me and I need them,” she once said. She had a huge collection of art, and when the walls were full she turned to sculpture.

Evelyne was a council member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts for several years from 1985 onwards. Former president Kenneth Christie remembers: “She was initially reluctant to take on the role of President in 2004 but, as expected, she went on to lead the RGI for two terms with her unique blend of humour, wisdom and tact, hugely appreciated by the members and, indeed, all who knew her.”

She could be formidable when needed, especially if a disagreement arose at board meetings. She was also involved with the Society of Scottish Women Artists and was the second female member of the Glasgow Arts Club, braving the male chauvinists there. I wish I could tell her of my personal experience in 1981 when the Arts Club told me they could allow my husband membership so that I could “put my foot over the door.” You can imagine my reply.

Romance brought her to Scotland. Long before dating sites, she met her husband-to-be the old-fashioned way. A friend had married a Scot and so invited Evelyne to visit. At one dinner party she met Ronnie Anderson, of the Teacher’s whisky family. A few months later they were married, and the chic, fun-loving, gregarious Evelyne moved to a specially architect-designed 1960s flat roofed house in the depths of rural Ayrshire.

“It must have been quite a shock for Evelyne but she put up with it for seven years till we moved to the family house in Milton of Campsie,” Ronnie recalls. “However, she really blossomed when we eventually settled in Glasgow’s West End, near friends, art galleries, museums, theatre, concerts and the opera.”

Both had been married before. Evelyne had a daughter Valerie, and Ronnie, a son, Giles. Seven years later they had a daughter, Josephine. Evelyne loved babies and small children and delighted in her seven grandchildren. With her exuberant hugs, noisy kisses, songs and belly laughs, she made the perfect gran.

She had begun life as Evelyne Socquet-Clerc, and never lost her strong French accent. She was just four when the Nazis invaded Paris. Her father, who worked for the French Resistance and was well aware of the dangers involved, sent his three children and her mother out of the city. Evelyne remembered how cold she was as she and her siblings travelled for days on foot.

Maybe her early experiences made her into such a good, appreciative and supportive person, because she had a group of lifelong women friends, who remember how she could often and easily turn coffee mornings into champagne mornings.

Artists such as John Cunningham, Archie Forrest, George Devlin, John Boyd, Christine MacArthur, Norman Edgar, Connie Simmers, Glen Scouller and many others were also friends, as was Gordon Mitchell, convenor of the RGI. Norrie Kirkham painted her portrait and David Donaldson gave her pictures. “Evelyne liked to buy and sell,” her husband told me. “She bought an Alex Goudie still-life of decanters, appropriate for my family connection with Teacher’s whisky.”

Her elder sister, Jeanne Socquet-Clerc, was a big influence. Jeanne had even left home in Paris under disapproving eyes, to follow her career as a painter. Their parents were strictly old-fashioned, believing in conservative professions: secretarial college, not opera. Ever afterwards, Evelyne was determined to support the arts. She and Ronnie were keen concert-goers and members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra circle. She also supported a couple of Conservatoire students.

In later life, and even after the onset of dementia, music and song were hugely important to her. She had done several years of professional classical voice training in Glasgow and loved her singing lessons. “She got a tremendous amount of joy from learning to sing and finding her voice,” says Josephine.

Evelyne loved being on stage and in 2019 was involved in Scottish Opera’s Memory Spinners outreach programme for dementia sufferers. She and her carer attended one rehearsal a week for eight weeks, culminating in a performance with a live orchestra and singers from Scottish Opera in a performance of Die Fiederamaus in the company’s production studios.

Surrounded by paintings, to the end she enjoyed conducting music on Spotify from her hospice bed. With the help of technology her family were able to have Evelyne singing at her own funeral, and along with family movie clips and photos gave everyone a touching memorial that I am sure she would have loved. The touching video can be viewed online at

Evelyne Anderson was a uniquely charismatic figure, able to galvanize others in support of the arts, beloved by all who knew her. We need more people like her. She is survived by her husband Ronnie, children Valerie, Josephine and Giles, and her grandchildren.