Gordon never married and did not normally socialise in the conventional sense of the word. He could be very uncommunicative even to neighbours and acquaintances. On the other hand, there were many acts of kindness and generosity to colleagues, people who worked for him and others. e.g. Around 1973 his 1951 vintage AJS 500cc motorcycle was offered to and gratefully accepted by the Glasgow Transport Museum who commented on its excellent condition.
Gordon did have interests outside of work. As a young man he was keen on cross country skiing and gliding, obtaining a pilot’s Gliding Certificate from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale and becoming a life member of the Scottish Gliding Union.
Most importantly, Gordon was a life-long member of the Perth Mountaineering Club, continuing to participate in their excursions until quite recent years. At one point he was their president. His mode of transport to Club meets was in a van, initially an Austin van then an Austin Marina van. He told his friends that it was cheaper than a car because he paid less tax on account of there being no side windows. He had them fitted out so that he could sleep in them too. These vans were known to his friends as the ‘Downs Mobiles.’ If you were travelling in one of them with Gordon at the wheel, then you needn’t be in a hurry. Gordon was known for never driving above 40mph and if someone else was driving the van, they also had to stick to Gordon’s imposed speed limit.
Another quirk of Gordon’s regarding his hillwalking was his fairly original attire. Most of his friends agreed that he was the only person they had ever seen on the hills wearing a shirt and tie, sports jacket and cap. The cap was replaced in hot weather by a handkerchief knotted at the corners. Gordon had a real love of the mountains of Scotland and he climbed all the Munros (283 hills over 3000ft) more than once and all of the Corbetts (221 hills between 2500 and 3000ft). A keen photographer, he had slides of most of these expeditions.
One of Gordon’s other walking pals, Malcolm Finlayson died, at the age of 100 on the same day as Gordon. Gordon had been at Malcolm’s 90th birthday celebration, which appropriately enough was at the top of a hill.
This obituary has been compiled from various sources, especially Gordon’s solicitor Peter Pratt of Kerr Stirling LLP, by Keith F Wagstaff MRSC.