Born: April 13 1926; Died: May 5, 2013.

Alan Kennedy, who has died aged 87, rose from teenage apprentice clerk to colourful burgh prosecutor and hands-on local authority chief executive.

One of a family of 12, he gained a scholarship to a prestigious private school but had to cut short his education, leaving his books behind to start work at 15.

Encouraged by his superiors at Aberdeen Townhouse, he later returned to his studies, achieving a law degree through night classes and went on to serve his old school as a member of the board of governors.

The third of the dozen children, he was brought up mainly in Aberdeen's Woodside area. His father was a railway clerk and his mother came from Stornoway. He was hugely proud of his Hebridean heritage and maintained links with Lewis all his life, enjoying a knowledge of Gaelic and taking The Stornoway Gazette until he died.

He attended a number of city schools, including Woodside Primary, and though bright enough to win a scholarship to Robert Gordon's College he was unable to fulfil his full academic potential there before duty beckoned and he had to start earning, as a town clerk's apprentice at Aberdeen Corporation.

While working there he met his wife, Margaret, who was employed in the adjacent advocates' library. They married on Hogmanay 1952 and soon afterwards he began his formal legal studies in the evenings, eventually graduating with an LLB from the University of Aberdeen.

He continued to work in local government and by the 1970s had become burgh prosecutor, a role he adored. He recognised a number of the faces who appeared in the dock and, having grown up in a working-class area, particularly enjoyed taking the accused by surprise with his knowledge and understanding of their background. He was never one to judge people, he judged only their actions and believed rehabilitation was more useful than punishment.

Following local government reorganisation in the mid-1970s he was appointed chief executive of the new Gordon District Council based in Inverurie. Well-known in public life and supremely confident in his own ability, he relished the opportunity to shape the new authority and set about establishing it on sound foundations.

Not fazed by anything, he had a particularly hands-on approach which, occasionally, did not go down too well with fellow officials and councillors. Nevertheless, he succeeded in earning the council a reputation as a well-run authority, an achievement further endorsed when he was asked to come out of retirement to hold the fort at Moray District Council in Elgin when it was without a chief executive.

During his service in local government he particularly enjoyed the role of returning officer for parliamentary and local council elections and was always eager to provide help and advice on election procedure.

After retiring from Gordon District he worked in the Torry area of Aberdeen as chief legal adviser for the River Purification Board and, as honorary secretary and treasurer of the Scottish River Purification Boards Association, received the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 1992.

He went to Buckingham Palace to receive his award and was so delighted that, instead of following palace instructions for exiting the ceremony after the formal presentation, he headed straight for his family with a large grin on his face.

Aside from public service, he also made a lifelong contribution to the community through his involvement with Aberdeen Lads Club. He taught youngsters to swim, helped with football and was appointed honorary president of the club which had been founded to help youngsters in deprived areas of the city.

In addition to his work on the board of Robert Gordon's College governors, he sat on Aberdeen Endowments Trust, a local education charity that helps to pay the fees of schoolchildren who would otherwise be unable to attend the college.

The church was also central to his life. He was session clerk of Rutherford Church in Aberdeen's Rosemount and a district elder there for many years before becoming a member of Midstocket Church.

At home he loved gardening and enjoyed being part of a large, close-knit family, regularly travelling to Stornoway until a few years ago.

A lively, energetic man who shared real zest for life with his wife, he was known for his streak of eccentricity and sense of humour. Moments before he died he was still laughing with his family, clutching a daffodil presented to him by one of his granddaughters.

Widowed four years ago and predeceased by their elder daughter Linda, he is survived by daughter Claire, granddaughters Eve, Daisy and Rose and his siblings Murdo, Margaret, Mary, Sheila, Chrissie, Agnes and Iain.