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Death of John Ramage MBE, Inverurie golf and Rotary stalwart, 89

The former registrar and special constable also lived and worked in Dingwall, Banff and Alford.

John Ramage MBE, who was the oldest serving member of Inverurie Rotary Club.
John Ramage MBE, who was the oldest serving member of Inverurie Rotary Club.

Former Inverurie Rotary and golf club president, John Ramage MBE, has died aged 89.

The retired Grampian Regional Council registrar and chairman of Scottish local health councils also served as a special constable.

Miner’s son

John Ramage was born on October 18 1933 in Douglas, Lanarkshire.

Son of Margaret and John Ramage – a coal miner, at the age of five John’s mum tragically died. He and his brother Archie moved in with their granny Ramage, and completed their education at Douglas School.

At the age of 15 John left school to begin work as a railway porter. From there he completed three years’ National Service in Dusseldorf, Germany, where he drove ambulances.

On returning to Douglas he spent two weeks as a lumberjack before a brief stint as a postman. His next role, working for the National Coal Board as a planned maintenance clerk looking after underground machinery, offered him stability.

Lasting love

After returning home, John joined Lodge St Bride, and progressed to become a master mason. It was also a welcome opportunity to reconnect with old friends, and make some new ones.

One such person was Jean Morrison. Five years his junior she lived just 100 yards from his house but they had never met until they both attended a Scout dance.

John Ramage and his bride Jean cutting their wedding cake. It's a black and white photo. She is wearing an intricately detailed lace dress and veil, John is in a dark with a carnation in his top pocket. Both are smiling.
Wedding joy captured on John and Jean Ramage’s happy day.

The pair married in 1957 in a village hall. In the middle of the Suez crisis, John had to go round all his friends to get enough coupons to fill the car for the wedding.

The couple’s first child, Jacqueline, was born in 1962 and Audrey in 1963.

Discovering golf

That same year John and his family relocated to Dingwall when he became a civil defence first-aid instructor for Ross and Cromarty. When the civil defence corps disbanded after two years the Ramages moved again, this time to Banff.

John was appointed registrar and sons John and Bryan were born in 1966 and 1968 respectively.

During their six years in Banff John became clerk to the district council. He was also approached to provide first-aid training to local police officers, however, to do so he had to be part of the special constabulary. He joined up and served as a special constable for a decade.

It was also while they lived in Banff that John found the other love of his life – golf.

Alford was their next move when John became area officer for Grampian Regional Council. With no golf club there at the time, he played in Aboyne instead.

Life in Inverurie

In 1973, after two years, the family moved to Provost Circle, Inverurie, where they lived for 10 years before moving to the home they have lived in for the past 30 years.

After moving to Inverurie, between 1976-77 John returned to further education, enrolling at Queen Margaret College in Glasgow to study social work. However, the first thing he did on relocating was join Inverurie Golf Club.

Jean Ramage pictured smiling with her husband, John Ramage MBE, who is wearing a suit and tie.
Jean and John Ramage, Inverurie residents for more than 40 years.

By 1978 he had become a member of the committee which would eventually elect him vice-captain, then captain three times: the 1983-1984 season, 1994-1995 and finally a one-year stint in 2011. In between times he functioned as club secretary.

“Golf was his life. He absolutely loved playing, being at the club, being on the committee. He eventually became an honorary member when he was 80,” said Jean.

John also became a committee member of the North East Secretaries division, and was there after appointed captain for several years.

Rotary Club

In July 1985 John became president of Inverurie Rotary Club taking over the reins from John Robertson.

Taken on July 2 1985, John is pictured centre being installed as president with outgoing president John Robertson, at a meeting in the Kintore Arms Hotel.

He served as president for two years and formed part of his Rotary Club’s winning golf team which picked up the Wilkeden Trophy at Carnoustie in 1980.

John was the club’s oldest serving Rotarian when he died.

Royal honours

Among his other accolades John was chairman of Grampian Local Health Council between 1990-1993, then the chairman of the Scottish Association of Local Health Councils between 1993-1996.

In 1997, the same year he retired, John experienced his proudest achievement. He was made MBE at Buckingham Palace for his services to local health councils.

John Ramage MBE, pictured in tartan trews and smart jacket, by the high gates of Buckingham Palace after being made a member of the British Empire.
John Ramage MBE outside Buckingham Palace, the day he was presented with his MBE.

“He was so proud that day, we had a lovely time and it was particularly nice that he was presented with his MBE by the Queen.

“John liked to make sure MBE went after his name. It meant a lot to him,” added Jean.

Proud grandfather

Around nine years ago John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His diagnosis eventually saw him retire from the golf club, however, the 10th hole was named in his honour, now called JR’s Little Gem.

Son John said: “When I look back at my dad’s life I just find myself wondering how he fitted in his paid work. He was always so busy and so committed to all his roles and committees.”

Described as “quite a serious person” with a talent for organising and delegating,  in John’s latter years he and Jean enjoyed golfing holidays, and both were blessed with the arrival of their eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“He was granda to the boys, dada to the girls, but more often than not they just called him grumpy,” laughed Jean. “John just doted on his grandchildren. He always wanted to hear about what they were up to, especially the four who play golf,” Jean said.

Celebration of John’s life

After 66 years of marriage John passed away in Garioch Nursing Home, Inverurie.

The newly wed Mr and Mrs Ramage dancing at their wedding reception. They are in a room with wood panelling in the background. Both are smiling as they dance by people sitting against the wall around the room.
John Ramage and wife Jean on their wedding day.

A celebration of his life will take place at St Andrew’s Church, Inverurie on Tuesday May 16.

“He will be a big miss to a lot of people. One friend came on the phone and can’t believe he’s gone. John was always there, so alert. He knew everything that was going on round about him. Even latterly, he would squeeze my hand when he couldn’t speak,” said Jean.

You can read the family’s announcement here.