Marian McKellar

Marian June McKellar

29th June 1927 - 27th October 2017

Marian was the first of Duncan and Rose McKellar’s two children and was born on the 29th June 1927 in Teddington Middlesex. A sister to Duncan junior who arrived in 1934.

Marian was an extremely bright child who developed a love for literature and the English language; she was exceptionally well read.

Her childhood was unfortunately disrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, and she was evacuated to Helensburgh, Scotland. Marian was therefore not only separated from her parents but also her younger brother Duncan who was evacuated elsewhere.

Despite this disruption in her young life, and more importantly her education, she obtained a place at Somerville College; one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Founded in 1879 as Somerville Hall, it was one of the first women's colleges in Oxford. Marian read French; a language she was introduced to during her school days and in which she excelled.

In the course of learning French whilst at school, she enjoyed a spell living with a French family; which benefitted her understanding and use of the language. The arrangement was reciprocated when the French family’s daughter spent some time living with the McKellar’s in Richmond.

Having graduated Marian took the first step on a career path which was centred around teaching English as a Foreign language. This was an exciting journey, that witnessed her teach in diverse locations; including, Cambridge Technical College and Bells School of Language, set in its stunningly beautiful Cambridge Campus; but also in London and overseas in South Africa.

In Cambridge, during the time of the Hungarian Uprising in the mid 1950’s, Marian delighted in being a part of the team who created the language programmes for the ‘High Flying’ Hungarian Nationals who’d fled to London.  It was likely at this time Marian met her good friend Ninon Leader, a Hungarian academic who shared an interest in literature and research; they kept in touch thereafter, and visited each other’s homes.

Marian also spent some time in Publishing with Penguin Books in London; a British publishing house co-founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane and his brothers Richard and John.

Marian’s career engaged her in different roles and took her to different parts of the world. Her old 1960’s Passport shows that she worked as a publisher’s editor and translator; she translated quite a few research papers into English as part of that work.

Her old Passport contains stamps from Lesotho, and Bloemfontein. Marian’s time in South Africa was adventurous, because as we know, that was a very different country in those days.  And when she later tried to obtain a Visa to work in New York; somewhat disappointingly, she was turned down. This was very likely due to her stay in South Africa where she had apparently joined in a protest about something, and that sort of thing was viewed with such suspicion in those days.

In 1960 Marian gained a sister in law in Erica when she married Duncan. Marian would become an aunt to Justine and Charles, and was particularly close to Justine; who as a youngster recalls spending fun holidays with Marian in London.

It was due to Marian’s frequent moves that she never really settled down; consequently, she spent periods back living with her parents in Richmond. But after their father Duncan passed away in the early 1970’s, their mother Rose moved to live in Worthing and Marian bought her own flat just outside Richmond.

Subsequently when Rose reached her eighties and her health began to fade she and Marian bought two adjacent flats in a new build in Richmond. By doing so, both retained their independence; whilst Marian was able to keep an eye on her aging mother.

I mention their independence, because that was perhaps something Marian took from her mother; as those who knew her would agree; Marion always was a most independent lady and could be quite opinionated when she felt it necessary. In all regards she liked a challenge and would ensure her opinions were noted where and when necessary. She had a good sense of social justice and liked to see public money properly used for the benefit of all.

Justine and Jack married in Bearsden in 1988. Marian was able to assist her mother Rose get to the wedding and she was delighted to be there.  That was however only three years before Rose passed away.

Following that, Marian took some time out to enjoy a holiday in France. She visited the Rhône wine region, which, with her love of a good French wine, proved to be the perfect break.

That said, Marian wasn’t really one to take holidays as such.  But many years prior she’d befriended Maggie Berkowitz, a former teacher from London; I say former because Maggie went on to become renowned artist and live in the Lake District; Marian would often visit with Maggie and enjoy the tranquil location.

Marian finally retired from her profession at the age of 60, but did some private tuition in her spare time.

But there came the time when living in Richmond lost its appeal and with all the family living in Scotland, she decided to move north. She’d always liked Edinburgh, especially in August when the Edinburgh Festival was on. She enjoyed music and was particularly fond of the Book Festival.

In 2001 she moved to live in the refurbished Power House in Easter Dalry, Edinburgh; handily located for Haymarket Railway Station and near the city centre. And this suited Marian’s minimalist approach to life. She settled in very well and soon made many friends with whom she’d meet up regularly for coffee; she was very happy in her new surroundings.

She was delighted to be so much closer to the family; her brother and sister in law in Stirling, Justine, Jack and great nephew and nieces; Jamie, Eilidh and Alison in Glasgow; who she would encourage to visit Edinburgh; especially in April when the International Science Festival was on; that was another of Marion’s interests. Also, nephew Charles and his partner Elisha in Aberdeen; of whom Marian was particularly grateful, when they drove south from their home to pick her up in Edinburgh and take her to Stirling (and home again slightly tipsy) to celebrate her 90th Birthday.

Christmas would be spent with Duncan, Erica and their family in Stirling; she very much enjoyed the face to face contact as opposed to communicating otherwise, as she used to do when in Richmond. Somewhat amusingly, when she used to call Duncan at the weekends utilising the free one hour call facility allowed through her telephone contract; it would be timed to the minute; such was the meticulous care and attention Marian paid to all aspects of her life and that is how she will be fondly remembered. Marian passed away at home on the 27th October 2017.

Posted in In Loving Memory.