Brilliant music man from Maddiston

John Arthur
John Arthur

The death of John Arthur has robbed Falkirk district of one of the most talented men of his generation.

John excelled at everything to which he turned his hand - brilliant musician, outstanding teacher and literary scholar and sharp commentator on every subject under the sun.

John was born and brought up in Maddiston where he attended the local primary school before going on to Falkirk Technical School, now Graeme High. On leaving school he served his time as an electrician and, after a spell of national service in the Middle East, started work with the Electricity Board in Falkirk.

Having obtained a variety of technical qualifications John moved on to a career in further education as a lecturer in what was then Falkirk Technical College. By this time he had acquired a growing reputation as a musician across the district and beyond. Although a fine pianist and no mean box player his chosen instrument was the trombone and it carried him into orchestras, dance bands, military bands and most importantly to traditional jazz which became his lifelong passion.

John played with a number of leading Scottish bands and was for decades the leader and inspiration of Dr MacJazz, Falkirk district’s premier Jazz ensemble. He was still playing until his most recent illness brought a very reluctant retirement.

From his early years John had a passion for English literature and in the mid 1970s he took the brave decision to give up his secure job in the college to study for a degree at Edinburgh University. Testimony to his reputation as a teacher came on graduation when the college immediately offered him a post teaching English.

It was to be his final career move and for the next 20 years until retirement he was in his element in the classroom inspiring a generation of young students to love the work of Shakespeare, Wordsworth and the rest.

But first and foremost John Arthur was a family man devoted to Isobel, his wife of 59 years and fiercely proud of his three children Elaine, Louise and Iain and their extended families including his eight grandchildren. Their achievements were a matter of great satisfaction to him and they have lost a true champion and inspiration.

Those of us who were lucky enough to know him have lost a steadfast friend and a companion who changed all our lives for the better.