Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Death of North-east golf stalwart Willie Donald
AN era ended at Stonehaven Golf Club this week with the death after a year-long illness of the club's former secretary and manager, Mr William Donald, just 16 days short of his 74th birthday, writes Harry Roulston
"Willie" to many, "Bill" to some, Mr Donald dedicated much of the second half of his life to golf, not only in Stonehaven, but in the wider North-east District.
He was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer late last year and he endured courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before dying peacefully in Kincardine Community Hospital on
Sunday evening.
Stonehaven Golf Club vice captain, Mr Ivan Groundwater, said "Willie Donald had been a tremendous servant to the club for many years, contributing not only time and effort as a member and employee but also significant sums of money, which made possible such recent developmentsas the new greenkeepers' sheds and the renewal of the greens watering system.
"Willie will be sorely missed," he said. "He was part of the fabric of our club, a man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of golf, our club and our course. He was an ever-present presence, the person to go to for advice when an unusual problem arose and he leaves a gap that will be very difficult to fill."
With his bushy beard and thick head of hair, Willie was known at golf clubs all over the North-east, having been a member of the North-east district committee of the Scottish Golf Union for more than 20 years and President in 2008/9.
His particular interest was in encouraging junior golfers involved in the district's coaching programmes, many of which were run by Andrew Locke, himself a product of Stonehaven GC and now a leading coach at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre.
Mr Locke said: "Willie almost never failed to turn up at the coaching sessions I ran, no matter the weather, even in the depths of winter, and he was always interested in how the boys were developing their games and always keen to encourage them. He will be sorely missed."
Willie Donald was a pawky golfer himself with a killer short game at his peak. He said he played off scratch for a while at university and remained a single-figure player all his career.
Willie joined Stonehaven GC as a junior in season 1952-53. He was educated at Mackie Academy and then Aberdeen University, from where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1964. 
He then worked for some years with the South of Scotland Electricity Board before a major career change saw him sign up with the Ben Line shipping company. For the next 25 years or so he travelled the world deep in the engine rooms of cargo ships and huge oil tankers.
In 1992, following a knee injury, he was pensioned off and returned to Stonehaven, immediately volunteering to help with the running of the club.
In 1996, Willie was appointed secretary and remained at the helm of the club for the next 13 years. He retired as secretary in 2009, when he was awarded an honorary life membership of the club, an honour which had also been given to his father. However, he continued to be heavily involved right to the end in club activities, being elected to the club council and being responsible for administering handicaps and also a wide range of club competitions.
Willie was also a keen bowler at Stonehaven bowling club, playing regularly in recent years in competitions and team matches, both indoor and outdoor.
His other abiding interest was the Masonic movement and he was a Past Master of the Masonic Lodge of Stonehaven No 65 and served for many years as treasurer.

North-east District SGU president David A. Fleming paid this tribute to Willie Donald;
"Willie will indeed be sorely missed at the District and elsewhere.

He was a stalwart of the North-east District for many years, having joined the committee in 1994 and served as President in 2008 and 2009. 
"Our thoughts are very much with him and his family at this difficult time.'



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