Celebrating the life of
John Sinclair Reid
In celebration of his life, John's wife Aenea has prepared the below tribute.
My husband, John Sinclair Reid, died peacefully at home, on Sun 21st Feb, aged 78; a huge loss to myself, our sons, Iain and Hamish, and John's younger sister, Margaret. Since his death, we have been overwhelmed by the tributes we have received from friends, colleagues and former students.
Friends described him as kind, knowledgeable, full of curiosity, practical and generous of spirit, and a 'real gentleman'. Former students have said how much they enjoyed his teaching and valued his advice. One even described him as 'the best lecturer ever' - a high tribute indeed. He touched the life of many and will be sorely missed
We have set up this page to enable those who knew him to contribute in his memory to a charity to which he himself made a bequest in recognition of the support he received during his stays in hospital.
John was an educator, researcher, historian and family man, loved and respected by everyone with whom he came into contact. He was full of ideas, enthusiasm, encouragement and anecdotes – a quick conversation with John and you’d end up with new ideas.
Although born in Chorleywood, John spent most of his life in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, first as a boarder at Robert Gordon's College and then in Hamilton Place, after his father retired to Aberdeen. In his student years he shared an allegedly uproarious flat in King Street and a convivial town house in Springfield Place which is when we met. After marrying in 1970, we bought a tiny cottage in Downies Village, giving rise to our love of living by the sea. Then in 1979, with Iain on the way, we moved to the neighbouring village of Findon to a house with a magnificent view of the sea and overlooking Findon Moor where John rambled frequently, took lots of photos and, more recently flew his drone over the moorland and cliffs.
His career at the University of Aberdeen spanned 50 years, a journey from undergraduate to Head of the Department of Physics. Subjects he taught included optics, digital electronics, mechanics, thermodynamics, astronomy, and meteorology. His research career included several key contributions to the field of solid-state physics through the use of X-ray scattering techniques.
John was keenly involved in mechanical and scientific history. He was President of the Aberdeen Mechanical Society, curator of the nationally recognised Historical Scientific Instruments Collection at Marischal College, and gave numerous talks on key figures connected to Aberdeen science, such as James Clerk Maxwell, Patrick Copland and David Gill. John’s book, ‘Mechanical Aberdeen’ explored industries located in and around Aberdeen at the turn of the 20th century. He was also a founder member of the Scientific Instrument Society with whom he enjoyed numerous study visits to collections throughout Europe.
In his home life, John was a keen sailor, progressing from racing Fireball dinghies in Stonehaven in his youth to yachting on the West Coast of Scotland when older. He was also a keen cyclist, a familiar lycra-clad figure whizzing round the country lanes in our corner of Aberdeenshire. A great lover of the outdoors and the Scottish coastline, it’s no accident that both his professional and private life focused on the natural world.
He was a wonderful father to Iain and Hamish; encouraging, inspirational, amusing and a constant source of information and practical advice. They are going to miss being able to pick up the phone and seek advice on anything from plumbing, through house purchasing, to developing a new lecture course. One of John's regrets in his final months was that he wouldn't be there to see the grandkids, Aileana (8), Elowen (5), Evelyn (4), Angus (2) and Torin (1), grow up.
Thank you for your interest in John. I hope you'll feel inspired to make a donation. If you'd like to read a bit more about his life in his own words, he penned a short autobiography which is available here on the University of Aberdeen's website.
Aenea Reid, Findon, 1 March 2021
In celebration of John's life, his family welcomes you to share memories or a message of how his life impacted yours.
Donations made in loving memory of John are welcomed by his family and will be gratefully received by Friends of ANCHOR, with every penny going directly to the cause. To date, £3,176.25 has been raised in John's honour, on the fundraising page set up by his wife Aenea.