Obit­u­ary – Ge­orge Pa­trick Camp­bell Fox

March 17, 1938 – Jan­uary 6, 2017

The Oban Times - - Birthd, Marriages & Deaths - JLM

STRON­TIAN has lost one of the area’s best-loved char­ac­ters, Ge­orge Fox, who died on Fri­day Jan­uary 6, aged 78.

Born and bred in Ed­in­burgh, Ge­orge spent al­most five decades in the Su­nart area and was the epit­ome of a true High­land gen­tle­man. Thought­ful and gen­er­ous with his time and in­put to so many as­pects of vil­lage life, Ge­orge was a friend to young and old alike. His easy wit and nat­u­ral charm were matched by his kind­ness and gen­uine in­ter­est in the peo­ple he met and spoke to.

Noth­ing was ever too much trou­ble for Ge­orge and he met all chal­lenges with en­thu­si­asm and good hu­mour – par­tic­u­larly over the past few years when his own health was fail­ing.

The son of Dorothy, a nurse, and Wil­liam, a bus con­duc­tor, Ge­orge was born in the New­ing­ton area of Ed­in­burgh on March 17, 1938, and had an el­der brother Fran­cis (Frank).

He was work­ing as a pig farmer when he met Helen Reay, also from Ed­in­burgh, at a young farm­ers’ func­tion. The cou­ple mar­ried in 1961 and de­cided to make the move from East Loth­ian to the Old Manse at Ana­heilt in 1968 in a bid to cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture for their young fam­ily.

Hav­ing hol­i­dayed fre­quently in Fort Wil­liam as a boy, Ge­orge al­ready loved the Lochaber area and the cou­ple quickly em­braced High­land vil­lage life, im­mers­ing them­selves in the ac­tiv­i­ties of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Ge­orge took up a post in the lo­cal forestry in­dus­try be­fore join­ing the county roads de­part­ment. He went on to work for the Hy­dro Board as a lines­man’s mate, com­plet­ing 25 years’ ser­vice be­fore re­tir­ing to con­cen­trate on his many in­ter­ests.

For many years, Ge­orge was a stal­wart of the vil­lage as­so­ci­a­tion, help­ing to or­gan­ise the lo­cal sports day, Christ­mas party, dances and con­certs, as well as the Stron­tian hor­ti­cul­tural show – known af­fec­tion­ately to this day as ‘the wee show’. He served on the com­mu­nity coun­cil and was a re­tained fire­fighter for more than 25 years, earn­ing his long-ser­vice medal. He was ex­tremely proud to be in­volved in the lo­cal Re­mem­brance Sun­day ser­vice each year, read­ing the roll call to hon­our the fallen sol­diers from the area.

When his son Graeme started high school in Fort Wil­liam, Ge­orge re­alised there was a need for a school trans­port ser­vice to en­able lo­cal young­sters to travel to and from Lochaber High School with­out the need to board for the week. He es­tab­lished a bus ser­vice to trans­port them to and from the ferry and con­tin­ued to pro­vide a school taxi ser­vice for more than 30 years – a role he en­joyed hugely.

How­ever, his great­est pas­sion – other than his fam­ily and friends – was his in­ter­est in lo­cal his­tory and it is as guardian of the Su­nart Ar­chives that Ge­orge is per­haps best known out­with the im­me­di­ate area.

Over a pe­riod span­ning al­most half a cen­tury, Ge­orge amassed an in­cred­i­ble trea­sure trove of lo­cal pho­to­graphs, news­pa­per cut­tings, maps and cen­sus ar­chives re­lat­ing to the Su­nart and wider Lochaber area. He also pre­served a wide range of arte­facts as­so­ci­ated with croft­ing and the min­ing her­itage of the area, and reg­u­larly wel­comed vis­i­tors and re­searchers from all over the world, in­ter­ested in find­ing out more about their fam­ily his­tory.

On one mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion, he suc­ceeded in re­unit­ing two groups of rel­a­tives who had con­tacted him in­de­pen­dently and had not pre­vi­ously known of one an­other’s ex­is­tence.

For many years, Ge­orge or­gan­ised a lo­cal ex­hi­bi­tion, dis­play­ing his own pho­to­graphs along with fas­ci­nat­ing ar­chive ma­te­rial in the vil­lage hall and at the lo­cal agri­cul­tural show - al­ways care­ful to credit the source of any ma­te­rial gifted or loaned to him. He took a spe­cial in­ter­est in the work of Thomas Telford, and his book about the Su­nart Float­ing Church is soon to be reprinted as part of a cam­paign to raise and pre­serve the re­cently-dis­cov­ered an­chor of this unique his­tor­i­cal fea­ture.

Ge­orge’s ded­i­ca­tion to the preser­va­tion of lo­cal her­itage was recog­nised at the re­cent Scottish Her­itage An­gel Awards, held at Assem­bly Rooms in Ed­in­burgh. He was nom­i­nated by Su­nart Com­mu­nity Coun­cil for the Life­time Con­tri­bu­tion to the His­toric En­vi­ron­ment cat­e­gory of the awards, which were es­tab­lished by An­drew Lloyd Web­ber to recog­nise the achieve­ments of vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity groups who work to pre­serve Scottish her­itage. Ge­orge reached the short­list of 10 can­di­dates from a to­tal of 160 nom­i­nees.

He said at the time that he felt ‘hum­bled’ by the nom­i­na­tion, adding: ‘I en­joy what I do and I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I just hope that Su­nart Ar­chives will con­tinue to pro­vide a valu­able lo­cal repos­i­tory for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.’

A com­mit­ted fam­ily man, Ge­orge was de­voted to wife Helen and was a con­stant visi­tor to Dail Mhor Care Home, where she lived un­til her death in April of last year. In re­cent years, he cam­paigned for NHS High­land to pro­vide as­sur­ances that the vi­tal ser­vices pro­vided by Dail Mhor will be re­tained for the ben­e­fit of lo­cal peo­ple for many years to come.

Fol­low­ing Helen’s death, he took great com­fort in the com­pany of his chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, who were an enor­mous source of pride and joy for him.

Ge­orge will long be re­mem­bered for his so­cia­ble na­ture and sense of fun. From silly hat birth­day par­ties to dress­ing up as a Bay­watch babe or Su­per­man, Ge­orge was un­doubt­edly game for a laugh. Al­ways smil­ing and keen to share a story or two, he loved the com­pany of oth­ers – young and old – and was of­ten to be found in ‘his’ cor­ner at the end of the bar at the Stron­tian Ho­tel, en­joy­ing a ‘ha-ha’ (a large dram) and the craic with lo­cals and vis­i­tors.

A man who whole­heart­edly adored the com­mu­nity in which he lived, and the peo­ple around him, Ge­orge’s legacy to Su­nart and the sur­round­ing area can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated. He con­sid­ered it a great priv­i­lege to have been care­taker of so many me­mories and was de­ter­mined that the Su­nart Ar­chive should be pre­served in its en­tirety for the ben­e­fit of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. It is to be hoped that his much-loved com­mu­nity will take steps to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to ful­fil this heart­felt wish.

Ge­orge died in hospi­tal in In­ver­ness fol­low­ing a brief pe­riod of ill health. He is sur­vived by son Graeme, daugh­ters Eilidh and Fiona, and grand­chil­dren Neil, Jen­nifer and Sarah.

Ge­orge was a friend to many and will be missed by all.

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