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William (Willie) Maclean, Lairg

By SPP Reporter

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Willie Maclean.
Willie Maclean.

WILLIAM (Willie) Maclean of Tigh-na-brunan, Kildary, died aged 72 at Invergordon County Hospital on 27th September 2012 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Willie was born on 15th February 1940 at Dalnessie, near Lairg, to the late Alexander and Alice Maclean. The middle son of three boys, he is survived by his older brother, Leslie, and younger brother John.

When Willie was five, the family moved to Dalmichie to be nearer Lairg school, where he excelled at football, woodwork, technical drawing and mathematics.

He was Dux on more than one occasion.

His childhood was spent mainly outdoors. He was highly industrious, making tables and trays, fishing, working the peats, rabbiting and hay-making.

Willie’s most favourite place was Amat by Ardgay where the family frequently spent their summer holidays. As a teenager Willie helped his father working on remote hill farms and got his first job at age 15 as a hill shepherd. Out on the hills he was truly in his element and he developed a passion for deer stalking.

Willie met his first wife, Ina, in his early twenties, and together they left the hills for Glasgow, where Willie trained as a joiner and then returned north to start work for George Wimpey at Nigg, before Willie set up his own joinery and construction business.

Willie’s work took him all over the Highlands and Islands frequently to remote and inaccessible spots.

He was a specialist in concrete and shuttering work for large and small scale construction projects. It is said we all leave our mark on this world and Willie Maclean has most certainly left his.

He won an award for his part in the building of the Kylesku Bridge, completed in 1984, and his other notable projects include: the Dornoch Bridge, the Aquadome at Inverness, Scrabster Pier, gondola foundations in Aonach Mor and various sea and harbour walls, dams, river, water and road works. Skilled in the art of pouring concrete, he could even do so from a helicopter!

Not all his jobs were, however, far from home.

When the new A9 was commissioned in the late eighties, Willie had to demolish not only Kildary railway station but also his own cottage, but not before he had bought a neighbouring field so he could build a new house and yard.

In November 1991 he was devastated when Ina was killed in a local road accident. They are survived by their children Lorna, Calum and Morven; grandchildren Jamie, Connor, Brogan and Kai and great grandchild Amelia.

Willie had a natural affinity with children and could play at their level, always making them laugh.

He was forever young at heart, and liked nothing better than hurtling head first down snow covered sand dunes or grassy banks with his grandchildren given half a chance! He was also a proficient water skier and had a life-long love of cycling, notably completing a charity mountain bike ride in 1993.

He met his second wife, Helen, in 1995 and welcomed her father, children and their families warmly into his life.

Willie and Helen had a shared love of outdoor activities and were frequently seen out on their bikes on the old A9. They also shared a passion for dancing and spent many a weekend at the Invergordon Social Club where they had many friends.

Willie had a great love and energy for life. His work and his family were always his priority. He had absolutely no intention of retiring and even in his last month at Raigmore Hospital he was still working. He was a man firmly rooted in the north, an outdoors man, active, kind, generous and very modest.

Logie Easter Church was fully packed on the day of his funeral (2nd October 2012), and with work vans and vehicles in addition to the normal quota of cars attending, the police stopped the traffic on the A9 for Willie’s final journey across the road – now that is something he would have chuckled about.

Holding the cords at the graveside were: Calum Maclean (son), David Campbell (son-in-law), Leslie and John Maclean (brothers), Allan and Robert Gardiner (step-sons), Connor and Jamie Maclean (grandsons).

The straps were held by his friends: Murdo Mackay, Alexander and Gordon Bannerman and Jimmy Campbell.

He now rests with Ina at Logie Easter Cemetery.

"When will we see his like again."

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