Jack Webster: Born 8th July,1931 in Maud, Aberdeenshire. Died 17th March,2020 in Glasgow.
It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Jack Webster, the celebrated journalist, author and playwright who met and interviewed some of the greatest international names in sport and showbusiness including Muhammad Ali, George Best and Pele, Sophie Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin and Bing Crosby. He had many interests and occupations and wrote 18 books and in 1980 he wrote and appeared in an award- winning BBC documentary, Websters Roup, which followed his return to the family farm in Aberdeenshire after the death of his father. Selling of the farm and all its effects was difficult and emotional for him.
He was hugely supportive of the Grassic Gibbon Centre and attended and spoke at many fundraising dinners including our inaugural Mearns Connections Festival in 2009 when he shared the top billing with Richard Demarco, the Scottish artist and promotional entrepreneur.
I quote from his Obituary, which appeared in the Scotsman on 25th March 2020 written by his fellow Aberdeenshire journalist and good friend, Gordon Casely
“Possessed of a singularly fluid writing style that could almost appear languorous, the reality for Jack was that his work was carefully crafted.
He sought inspiration from Lewis Grassic Gibbon (James Leslie Mitchell), whose writings he first encountered in the 1950s while working in the very reporters’ room of the Press & Journal in Aberdeen which Mitchell himself had used a generation earlier.
Jack wrote: “Reading Sunset Song not only opened my eyes to the true worth of rural life around me, but taught me more about the art of writing than any other influence”.
As colleagues, he had Gibbon’s one-time associates, Cuthbert Graham, George Macdonald Sr and George Fraser.
Jack came to know Mitchell’s widow Ray, brother John, children Rhea and Daryll, and not least Alexander Gray, the Arbuthnott dominie who first spotted Gibbon’s talent in 1913.
All this created Jack’s desire to put the writer on stage “to speak for himself”. One autumn night in 2007 in Gibbon’s Kincardineshire village hall in Arbuthnott, it happened, with Vivien Heilbron as the Narrator and husband David Rintoul as the novelist.
At the emotional conclusion, the audience rose in standing ovation, and when Jack was persuaded on stage, he stood there, tears running his face, confessing –This is the greatest moment of my life.”
At the Centre, we are proud that, at his Funeral in Glasgow, the words of Grassic Gibbon from Sunset Song were quoted on the front page of the Order of Service.
“There were lovely things in the world, lovely that didn’t endure and the lovelier for that—Nothing endures.”
Jim Brown, Chairman.