12th February 2010 at 00:00

Gerry Murnin, a former principal teacher of modern languages at Scotland's largest secondary school, Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow, died last month at the age of 70.

He was a consummate professional in all his work as a teacher and principal teacher of modern languages. But there was much more to Gerry's life - as a husband, father, grandfather, friend and active member of his local community.

His career teaching French and Spanish began in the 1960s in Holyrood Secondary. From there, he was promoted in the early 1970s to St Pius Secondary in Drumchapel, returning in 1979 to Holyrood as principal teacher of modern languages, He remained there until he retired in 1995.

Former colleagues remember him as a highly principled, supportive head of department. Among his many strengths were his teaching of grammar and his ability to use guitar-playing in class and reinterpret familiar songs with his own words.

In his youth, Gerry was a very skilled footballer. He played for Vale of Leven and for a short time with Dumbarton. He always dismissed how good he was, but whenever people would reminisce about his footballing days, it was surprising to learn that he was very talented, despite his lack of co- ordination in other areas. Learning to ride a bike was a great challenge for him, a skill he only mastered as an adult.

Gerry married Felicia in 1965 and had two children, Greg and Mandy. His work as principal teacher at Holyrood Secondary involved a lot of work at home on weekends and holidays, but he still managed to compete in regular golf tournaments and play bridge every week.

He was also active in his local community, especially in his parish of St Patrick's, where he was chairman of the parish committee. He organised and collected for the 200 club and other fundraising events, and every Sunday ran the bingo, which was very popular as a social gathering. He also made time for choral singing.

Gerry's kindness reached out from his immediate family to numerous others in the community. So many of his good works, especially for the elderly, will remain unknown, appreciated only by those who benefited from them - that was Gerry's way.

Shortly after taking early retirement at the age of 56, he found what he described as his ideal job: working in the Donald Dewar Day Care Centre for the Elderly, where he sang, played the guitar, held quizzes and drove the minibus to and from the centre. He always said he couldn't believe he was getting paid for doing a job he loved so much.

When he was diagnosed with a brain tumour last February, he showed great courage and a positive attitude.

Maureen Gilchrist, quality improvement officer, Glasgow City Council.

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