5th September 2008 at 01:00

Dick Morris, the former principal of Dumfries Technical College and, later on in his career, the head of Botswana Polytechnic, has died aged 87.

Frederick Richard Austin Morris - called Dick by all his family, friends and colleagues - was born in the village of Platt Bridge, near Wigan.

He taught at St Helens Technical College before being called up in 1941 to the RAF. In December of that year, he was fast-tracked to officer status. He went on to serve for five years in airfield and squadron operations as Station Officer Electrical at RAF stations at Bircham Newton in Norfolk, RAF Reykjavik in Iceland, RAF Mawgan on D-Day, and RAF Leuchars, from where he was discharged in 1946.

He then returned to further education. Starting at Carlisle Technical College in 1947, he rose to become head of the electrical engineering department.

In 1961, he was appointed principal of Dumfries Technical College - its first head. He oversaw the development of the college from a core staff of about 30 to one of 120-plus, and its move to new premises at Heathhall in 1971, where he had a significant influence on design and layout.

He developed, in this period, a close rapport with students, and was known to them and addressed by them as Dick.

Through the college and Scouting movement, he was able to follow his love of the hills and walking, particularly in the south-west of Scotland, by developing Castlemaddy, by Carsphairn, as a centre for students and latterly the Scouts.

As college principal, he forged links with the Franz-Jergens-Schule in Dusseldorf, Germany, less than 20 years after the end of the Second World War, which said much about his outward and progressive thinking. Many exchange visits took place over a 15-year period.

In 1979, he took early retirement and began a four-year contract with the Overseas Development Administration as principal of Botswana Polytechnic in the capital, Gaborone. He made many friends there and travelled extensively to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia on business, meeting many dignitaries, including the late president of Mozambique, Samora Machel.

On his return, he did not retire "gracefully" but continued his engagement with the Scouting movement, taking a number of troop trips abroad, and tutoring for the blind.

He also researched his family history and wartime exploits, writing a number of memoirs and publishing articles on both.

He was a devoted churchgoer at Maxwelltown West in Dumfries for over 40 years and a devoted husband and carer over the past 10 years to his wife, Emma. He is survived by her, his sister Margaret, and three children, five grand children and eight great-grandchildren.

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