Born: November 10, 1941;

Died: October 12, 2022.

PROFESSOR David Green, who has died after a short illness at the age of 80, was so well known that he lived in daily fear of being warmly greeted by strangers whom he couldn’t quite place. He had after all, accumulated a vast number of friends, colleagues and former students.

In a long career at Glasgow University he had risen from undergraduate to Vice Principal, and in retirement had lent his skills to a wide range of organisations. He was also a renowned civil engineer.

As a young man he attended Berkeley University, California, to study for a Master’s degree. His arrival there coincided with student unrest over the Vietnam War and civil rights. Much as he might have sympathised, any participation would have led to deportation, so he remained a bystander to the protests.

He was intrigued and fascinated by the personalities, lifestyles and opinions he encountered. He even chanced upon Alexander Kerensky, the exiled head of the pre-Bolshevik Russian Revolutionary government, and invited him to lunch, and in later life he only mentioned this when his children studied history at school.

David Green was born in Heanor, in Derbyshire’s Amber Valley district, in 1941, but due to the war his early years were spent in Derby. He had fond memories of Bemrose Grammar School for Boys, despite being caned, an altruistic attempt to link boys with dates at the local girls school having been deemed to be a vice ring. This transgression even reached the pages of The Daily Sketch.

His time at Bemrose was cut short by a family move to Falkirk, Stirlingshire, which was without doubt resented by the teenage Derby lad. He became so disruptive that the school did not want to let him sit Highers, advising him to get a job fixing telephones instead. His father supported him and somehow exams were sat and a place gained at Glasgow University to study Civil Engineering. He never looked back, gaining a first-class degree in Civil Engineering before heading for Berkeley.

His research was in the new field of Finite Element Analysis, which utilised early computers to permit structures and buildings to be built of hitherto impossible complexity. His development of the FLASH program at Glasgow and the ETH Institute in Zurich was so far ahead of its time that it remained the standard tool for engineers throughout Europe for decades. He particularly valued a letter from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the original theory of FEA was developed, asking him to explain how he had put the theory into practice as they had so far been unable to do it.

Whilst at Berkeley he was approached by NASA to use FE Analysis on the Saturn rockets being designed for the Moon missions. Typically he dismissed this contribution, saying that NASA was asking everyone in the country with a calculator at the time.

There were definitely lucrative career opportunities but he was always an academic at heart and a teaching post drew him back to Glasgow to complete his PhD. There Green met and married Margaret Cuthbert. Their son, Nick, was born soon afterwards, followed by a daughter, Clare.

Returning to Glasgow from Zurich in the mid-1970s, Green continued his research and teaching while pursuing less orthodox adventures. A series of accidental meetings led to him taking stewardship of Lubnaclach, one of the most remote houses in Scotland, located in the heart of Rannoch Moor.

Over the following years the house became a popular shelter for all manner of visitors, from visiting academics to vagabond climbers. It was common to see a line of figures, including small children, wending their way across the moor from Corrour station loaded down with suitcases and a specially-made tea chest with pram wheels, on their way for a holiday at Lubnaclach.

At the same time the family moved to a row of derelict 17th century estate cottages near Bishopton. After a winter without electricity, and snow falling inside the bedrooms, renovation work was completed to make a comfortable family home, where they remained for many years.

Later, a similar project in Knapdale led to strong connections within the communities around Loch Sween, where he became well known for his gardening skills, winning the local cup for fruit and vegetables many times.

Modernisation of the management structures within the University gave Green the opportunity for a new direction in his career. He rose from Head of Department to Dean of Engineering and then Vice Principal, taking particular responsibility for the University Estates and quickly mastering the complexities of contract management.

His rigorous professionalism was put to use guiding major projects such as the University Medical School and the SCENE Research Centre on Loch Lomond. In retirement he donated his time and skill to organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland, Glasgow Art Club and Kilmartin Museum.

Green was incomparable as a host. He would often profess patently ludicrous opinions at the dinner table in order to generate a more heated debate. When passions had reached a peak he would skilfully defuse the situation and launch a series of hilarious and equally dubious anecdotes before managing to throw everyone out without causing offence.

His interests included mountaineering, marathon running and latterly cycling. Always keen to learn, he became knowledgeable in literature, poetry and art.

Despite all his achievements he remained unconventional, modest and completely uninterested in status symbols, always thoughtful and generous of his time. He will be widely remembered as a man of great intelligence, warmth and generosity. He is survived by Margaret, children Nick and Clare, grandchildren Alexander and Hannah and his sister, Barbara.