Lawyer and ombudsman;

Born: December 3, 1934; Died: June 28, 2012 .

Derrick Marks, who has died aged 77, was a lawyer and a man for whom the notion of service was embedded deep in his psyche.

It defined all that he did in his public and private life, shaping a career in local authority administration, culminating in an appointment as Scotland's ombudsman, and motivating him to contribute to his own communities – both resulting in improvements to the lives of countless individuals.

His career in public service began after an education at Wishaw High School followed by a degree in history from Glasgow University. While apprentice to the town clerk of the Burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw in the late 1950s he embarked on further studies, this time for a law degree, and was admitted as a solicitor in 1960.

The following year he moved to the Burgh of Kirkcaldy as a solicitor where he remained for two years before becoming depute town clerk at the City and Royal Burgh of Dunfermline.

Five years later his journey through local government had taken him to the post of town clerk of Hamilton. And after local authority reorganisation in 1974 he was appointed chief executive of Motherwell District Council, receiving the OBE for his services, in 1983.

That same year, seeking a change of scene, he became general manager of the Scottish Special Housing Association. He took early retirement in 1989 as a result of his job disappearing when the association merged into Scottish Homes.

From then on he accepted a series of part-time appointments in the public and private sectors including the role of deputy chairman of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland.

In 1994 he took over as ombudsman, a post officially known as Commissioner for Local Administration in Scotland. During his tenure, though the level of complaints remained fairly consistent, he witnessed changes in their nature and in the public's propensity to complain: far fewer were simple and readily resolved, many were exceedingly complex and the public displayed an increased willingness to pursue all avenues open to them.

Despite the challenges, by the time he stepped down, the majority of his customers rated the quality of service as good or very good.

He fully retired in 2001 and throughout his career, as in all of his duties, his experience, managerial and legal skills, combined with his common touch and mild-mannered personality, had enabled him to make a real difference. Not content with serving the public all day, he had also utilised them in his spare time through voluntary service in each community where he lived.

Whilst at university he had joined the Officer Training Corps, in anticipation of his national service. In the event, his deferment to complete his apprenticeship did not end until two days beyond the last date for call up so, having missed that opportunity, he volunteered for the Territorial Army where he served as a commissioned officer with the Cameronians for six years.

He also sat as an elder on the kirk session of five churches for many years, carrying out his duties with great diligence and good grace. In addition, he was a prominent member of Hamilton Round Table and Dunfermline, Hamilton and, latterly, West Fife Rotary Clubs, working with their numerous charities. And, along with his wife, he held garden parties at their home to support Child Survival in Malawi (Scotland), a small trust helping to improve the lives of youngsters in the Africa country.

A Burns lover, he was a member of the Hamilton Burns Club and liked nothing better than to offer a critique of the many Immortal Memories he had experienced.

In his private life, he passed on his own values, of hard work and respect for others, to his children and grandchildren and delighted in their many achievements. He loved family holidays, often spent at their caravan in Blairgowrie, and relished Sunday evening dinners. Always keen to share his broad general knowledge with the gathering round the table, his enthusiasm regularly entailed him leaping to his feet and plucking a book from the shelf to share a quote or nugget of information with the assembled family.

Predeceased by his wife Nan, whom he married in 1959, and their son Douglas, he is survived by their daughter Carole, sons Bruce and Stewart and three grandchildren.