Dorothy Williamson: A teacher’s lasting legacy

Dorothy Williamson taught at Falkirk High School for more than three decades
Dorothy Williamson taught at Falkirk High School for more than three decades

To say Dorothy Williamson was ‘old school’ is not to detract but rather reflect honestly on someone who had devoted their life to teaching yet disliked comprehensive education.

For many years she headed the modern languages department at Falkirk High School where she instilled in many the grasp of French and German to see them pass exams, but for her, more importantly, gave them a desire to know more about her beloved France.

Although she had never married, Dorothy had a lifelong love affair – with an entire country. France and Dorothy were inextricably linked.

From her first visit to Poitiers at university, she had more than six decades of association with the country and particularly St Germain.

But it could all have been very different.

Born on October 25, 1931 in Polmont to Isa and Alexander Williamson she was a premature baby and, according to her family, it was the last time she was ever early for anything. She had two younger siblings, Margaret and John.

A bright youngster she was the dux at primary school and proxime accessit at high school. At a time when further education was male dominated she went to Edinburgh University achieving an honours degree in modern languages.

She wanted a career in the Foreign Office but at that time the only entry for women was in a secretarial role so reluctantly she decided on teaching.

In 1954 she took up her first post at Girvan High School and three years later moved to St Modan’s before arriving at Falkirk High in 1959. She started as an assistant French teacher and finished as department head, eventually retiring in 1991.

A keen member of the Soroptimists where she was president in 1981-82, she was instrumental in setting up the relationship the Falkirk club now enjoys with the Bastia club in Corsica and Nice in France. This tied in with her love of travel – from Falkirk to Italy by scooter, America by Greyhound bus, Turkey, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Peru, Russia and the list goes on.

Sport was also important to Dorothy, particularly golf. She loved Glenbervie and also Verneuil in France where she was an active member.

She was also a skilled dressmaker, keen gardener and DIY enthusiast – at least until she fell off the roof she was repairing in St Germain.

But most of all she loved friendship, keeping in touch with schoolfriends, colleagues, pupils, people she met on holiday – all were important to her.

She died on July 8 in Randolph Hill Nursing Home, Dunblane, leaving a legacy of her teaching and friendship.