Former Scots Guardsman, dad-of-two and devoted grandfather Jim Smith of Bridge of Don, has died age 74.
Born on October 17 1949 in Aberdeen’s Albyn hospital, James Smith – always known as Jim – was the only son of university technician James Alexander Kinnaird Smith, and his wife Mary.
He and his sister Sandra attended Skene Square Primary before moving on to Rosemount Academy. Though he excelled at sports and loved the opportunity to play basketball and football he was only too keen to leave education as soon as he could.
A job working in the laundry of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary gave Jim opportunity to do just that. However, even as a teenager he knew he was capable of more and soon enlisted in the army.
In 1967 he joined the Second Battalion The Scots Guards Household Division and was sent to England for training.
Based at Pirbright, Surrey, Jim excelled in basic training and became quickly established in the fulfilling career he had been looking for.
Over the following years he travelled the world performing his duties in Hong Kong, Korea, Belize and Guyana.
In 1973, during a stint “at home” in London, Jim was introduced to civil servant Marion Rossin.
Love and marriage
Visiting the capital to practise for the Trooping of the Colour the pair met in a pub. In love from the get-go, by 1974 they knew they were meant to be.
On September 6 1975 Jim married Marion in Holy Trinity Church, London. While he worked from various bases, Marion stayed at home with her mum.
With a new life ahead of him Jim opted to join the army reserves instead, working full-time for the Metropolitan Police in a civilian role as a driver for the police commander.
In the summer of 1977 son Andrew was born, with Stuart coming along two years later in May 1979. That same year Jim left the army for good.
Though he wanted to return to Aberdeen with his family, looking after his mother-in-law took priority.
Returning to the Granite City
When she sadly passed away in May 1985 Marion and Jim put plans into place to move north.
By November they had found their new home in Newburgh Crescent, Bridge of Don.
Though family was Jim’s top priority, relishing time with his boys as they were growing up, he continued working as a driver, this time for Securicor and Group Four.
Taking early retirement at 60 Jim and Marion enjoyed travelling together, but most of all Jim devoted himself to his grandsons Owen and Kieran.
Andrew said: “When my brother had his boys it was like my dad found his purpose in life. He had been the same way with us – always loved to be as hands on as he could. But with the grandkids it was more so.
“If he wasn’t chasing them about as toddlers he was involving himself in the big decisions as they grew older. He was just the textbook definition of what it means to be a great family man.”
For the couple’s silver wedding celebration they visited Canada and later enjoyed cruises to the Baltics and Portugal.
Even a cancer diagnosis and ensuing chemotherapy in 2021 only briefly held him back, giving the whole family cause for celebration when Jim went into remission.
Dabbling from time to time in Facebook groups for former Scots Guards and enjoying family time, it was a devastating blow when a lung scan revealed Jim’s cancer had returned.
“That news just knocked him for six,” said Marion. “But he managed to come home.”
After a stay in hospital Jim was able to return to his house in time for Christmas.
“We had such a rush around getting everything ready,” said Marion.
“Worth every bit of stress now,” added Andrew.
The entire family comprising Jim’s sons, their wives, Marion and the grandkids gathered for “an absolutely wonderful” Christmas day. Later that evening his pain, worsened, however.
Jim – who had 58 tattoos, including a golden eagle on his back, liked to joke with nurses that he was afraid of needles. “The reality was that by the end he was just sick of being a bit of a pin cushion,” added Andrew.
“My husband was such a strong man. In every way. When he relented and asked us to call the doctor we knew he must be really starting to suffer.”
‘Lucky to have had him’
Jim passed away at home with Marion by his side on December 25.
A celebration of his life will take place on Thursday January 11 at 1.15pm in Aberdeen Crematorium West Chapel.
A Scots Guards piper will be present and Jim’s prized Scots Guards t-shirt is with him in his coffin.
Marion added: “I felt lucky when I met Jim and I’ve never had cause to think otherwise. He was the most fantastic, wonderful man. A really good father, and grandfather, the kindest, most generous man. I was lucky to have his as my husband.
“And we will all be lost without him.”