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.

Ever the educator, even in death, John donated his body to medical science. In light of this and the current coronavirus restrictions, we have not held a funeral service. Instead we are planning a memorial event in early August when, hopefully, restrictions will have lifted sufficiently to permit such a gathering. If you would be interested in attending, please send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll get back in touch once plans have been confirmed.

Aenea Reid, Findon, 1 March 2021

 

John on his beloved yacht Talisker in 1991
John and Aenea celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary in September 2020
John at his PhD graduation in 1970
John with Iain and Hamish at the St Fillans Crocodile, 1986
John with his mother and younger sister, Margaret, in 1950
John with his amateur radio rig in 1962 (we still have that fearsome machine in the loft!)
John at Daresbury Research Laboratory in 1990
At Hamish's graduation in 2003 - a rare photo of all four of the family together
John on his bike in April 2020
In memory of my best friend and soulmate. Thank you for the wonderful 50 years we had together.
To Dad. You've gone too soon. We all miss you.
Dad, we will always miss you.
In memory of a great educator, mentor and thoroughly good bloke.
You will be missed. Hugs, thoughts, prayers and our love to Aenea, Iain, and Hamish
Thank you for our scientific collaborations over many years, for the papers we have published and presented at international conferences, and above all for your friendship. Our many happy memories will last for ever.
John, I will miss your courtesy, collegiality and sense of humour. Rest in peace.
John was an inspiring and engaging man who enriched the lives of those who knew him. It was a privilege to have known you. Our thoughts are with Aenea, Iain, Hamish at this difficult time.
We are grateful for all that John gave us and many other people. We miss his warmth and gentle reassurance.
I shall miss you and our discussions, John. Thank you for all your support.
Love and fond memories of John, our dear Brother in Law. Love and Virtual Hugs for Aenea and all the family.
Many condolences to Aenea, Ian and Hamish.
We will miss him so much.
Go well John. Thanks for the wise counsel and wonderful stories, you will be sorely missed.
A rich life. You'll be missed. 
Will remember him as the warm, intelligent, interesting, kind, humane man that he was.
Farewell John and fair winds...
With affectionate memories of student days in Aberdeen
A great guy.

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, £3,295 has been raised in John's honour, on the fundraising page set up by his wife Aenea. 

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