Donald Hardie

Born: September 27, 1928;

Died: July 5, 2019

Donald Hardie, who has died aged 90, was born in Kisumu, Kenya, truly a child of the Empire. His parents John and Gertrude Hardie came from Birnie and Aberlour, Morayshire; John had survived Gallipoli, then badly wounded in Mesopotamia serving with the Scottish Horse (light cavalry), transferred to India with Skinners Horse after the war before settling in Kenya a branch bank manager with Standard Bank.

Growing up in Kenya, with summer holidays in northern Uganda, cemented Donald’s respect for the British Empire and its positive influences. Sadly the family had to move back to the UK, to Beckenham outside London, just in time for World War II. Donald was too young to serve in the war but as a boy scout he would bicycle messages between different anti‐aircraft gun batteries before the era of full radio and wireless communication.

He ultimately went north to St. Andrews University – surrounded by returned veterans of WWII whom he admired, respected and also always felt some regret at not having been old enough to have shared their service and sacrifice. While at St. Andrews Donald became President of the undergraduate student body, played hockey for the university (and after for Scotland), spent a scholarship year at university in Sweden and, most importantly, met his future bride Sally Pat at St. Andrews. She was an educated Southern belle from Atlanta, Georgia, graduate from Vassar College, spending a summer studying at St. Andrews before returning home.

Donald subsequently spent the next year on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Indiana, then another year working in a tyre factory in Ohio – all because both activities brought him closer to Atlanta and Sally Pat. It worked, she succumbed and they ultimately married in Atlanta in 1952. Donald was immediately then conscripted into the British army, specifically into the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders regiment, and then served in various places in W. Germany and Austria keeping the Russians out of Europe.

When his army service was completed in 1955, Donald wanted to move back to Scotland and liked either of Scotland’s two traditional export industries, woollens and whisky. Daily proximity to woollens seemed like a better prospect for long term health so he joined Munrospun in Edinburgh and then subsequently founded his own woollens export company, Hardie Wood Ltd, with Angus Wood.

He and Sally rented then purchased Chesterhill House in Humbie and thus established their home base for the next 60 years. They loved and complemented each other across continents and interests and quickly became part of the East Lothian social scene; by 1960 there were three children (David, Robin and Katharine) and also a growing interest in British politics.

Donald became very involved in both local and national politics for a decade, hosting cabinet ministers at home and being featured on the US television show 60 Minutes as the classic British by‐election candidate. He ran as a Conservative candidate for Parliament in difficult constituencies (Berwick & East Lothian and Northumberland after Lord Lambton’s indiscretions) and came frustratingly close: he lost one election in Northumberland by 57 votes out of 45,000 votes cast and another in Berwick & East Lothian by 641 votes – but made countless loyal and permanent friends in the process because of his honest and obvious concern for the needs of ordinary citizens. He then ran the referendum campaign in Scotland in 1974 in favour of joining the Common Market (EU today) and was rightly proud of their winning result.

He went on to become the Executive Director of the Institute Of Directors in Scotland in 1979 which he ran for 18 years. His work took him across the breadth of Scotland, he was able to organize and motivate at every social level, made more new friends everywhere and in 1987 was honoured with an OBE for his work and contributions to business in Scotland.

His love for Scotland was understood by all who knew him and good examples are the National Museum of Scotland which he worked tirelessly to help create in 2006, and then promote, as well as the 50th anniversary addition in 1994 to the WW II memorial in the Netherlands to the 51nd Highland Division. He also leaned quietly into his Presbyterian Church of Scotland heritage during his whole life, as demonstrated by his 55 years of service as the Session Clerk at Humbie Kirk.

The latter years were spent enjoying life in East Lothian, golf and lunches at Muirfield, annual trips to Augusta, Georgia for the Masters golf tournament, holidays every August on a ranch in western Wyoming, occasional pheasant shoots locally with friends and stories shared with his five grandchildren (Cameron, Lachlan, Caitlyn, Margaret and Kurt). Then came the sadness of his dear Sally’s long decline, his own physical distress and bedbound years at home with the help of his companion Lindsey Bamber before his final departure.

Above all, Donald enjoyed his time with people from all backgrounds and across the world. He listened to what people had to say, looked for the positive connections and how to make people smile. He could always produce a story or a lesson from past history, usually Scottish history, which would be relevant and interesting and he influenced many people and businesses with ideas and introductions.

His pride and respect for his ancestors and their achievements and sacrifices was clear to all and perhaps best summarised by his unofficial motto: “Look back to the rock from which ye were hewn.” They would have been proud of him too.

He is survived by three children, David and Katharine in Wyoming and Robin in Edinburgh, Scotland and five grandchildren, Cameron, Lachlan, Caitlyn, Margaret and Kurt, all in Wyoming. Online condolences or donations (to the Humbie Presbyterian Church) may be made through