It is with much sadness and regret that I have to report that our president, Sinclair Ross, died on 19th September 2013.
Sinclair was very much involved in the early days of the society when it had the name of ‘The Highland Geological Club’. He gave a talk each winter and led numerous excursions for the society, greatly contributing to the success of the club. In recognition of his efforts, he was asked to become President of the society in 1986, a role which he fulfilled until his death. He remained an active member of the group until a few years ago (when he started to find the excursions hard going) but he was still a regular attendee at the winter talks and at committee meetings. One memory is that Sinclair set the quiz that traditionally followed our AGM. A quiz that made good use of his large eclectic collection of slides and proved a severe test of our knowledge of Scotland, its scenery and rocks.
In the latter stages of WWII Sinclair signed up on his 17th birthday to serve in the RAF as a pilot. After this service he trained as a meteorologist with the Met. Office and undertook a number of postings, which included a research job with H. H. Lamb at Bracknell, spending the majority of his career as a forecaster at RAF Kinloss.
During a spell in Germany he became interested in geology when he purchased a copy of Holmes' Principals of Geology. Inspired by this revered text book, he became interested in petrology and started to make his own thin sections of (predominantly) igneous and metamorphic rocks. Often collecting specimens with his mentor, the late Alex Herriot from East Kilbride, Sinclair taught himself the intricacies of observations with the petrological microscope, a skill that he was happy to pass on to other interested individuals. It was a source of great pride that he was considered to be more knowledgeable than many professional geologists working in the field!
An Orcadian by birth, Sinclair met his wife Jean whilst stationed at (RAF) Dyce. Married in 1955, they took up residence in Jean’s home town of Forres in 1962. He spent much time exploring the geology of the area and an interest in the Culbin Sands led him into the related science of geomorphology. Short accounts of the findings from his study of the Culbin were published in The Moray Book and in the Moray Field Club Bulletin. In 1992 these notes were gathered together and expanded into the book The Culbin Sands – Fact and Fiction, sadly now out of print.
Widowed in 1992, Sinclair is survived by his daughter, Sheila, and grandchildren Patrick and Claire.
Those of us who were privileged to know Sinclair will remember him for his meticulous microscopy and field work, careful documentary research and immaculate drawings. Sinclair never spoke without consideration and what he had to say was always worth listening to; his geological thoughts, dry wit and dark humour will be sorely missed.
Chairperson, Highland Geological Society