Born to David and Margaret McLeish Logan (née Anderson) just two years before the outbreak of the Second World War, and experiencing along with her siblings William (Billy or Bill), Margaret and Mary the loss of their father before she had turned 13, Betty (as we all knew her) experienced something of the sober realities of life from her earliest years.
She attended the Mearns Street Primary and Finnart Girls’ Secondary (in the building that now houses Ardgowan Primary) and went on to work in Fleming Reid’s Scottish Wool and Hosiery Store, Drumfrochar Road, linked to the Merino Mill near the family home in Greenock.
In her late 20s she set her sights on a nursing career, initially training in Paisley as a state-enrolled nurse followed by midwifery in Greenock. In order to upgrade to registered nurse she was forced to go south and trained in London for two years (along with Edith Best, remembered by many of us), after which she gained a qualification as a psychiatric nurse (RMN) in Oxford. Thereafter she practised as a District Nurse, spending the 1970s in Surrey, followed by three years in Kilcreggan, until her mother’s need for care brought her back to Greenock in 1982. Those years of nursing were happy years: with the genuine interest in people that always characterised her, she was ideally suited to her chosen vocation and able to make new friends wherever she went. She continued to work for a decade in Port Glasgow until a serious heart attack forced her retirement at the age of 55.
It was under John Buntain of the Prospecthill Mission that Betty first came to know Christ as her Saviour. A Christian couple, William Curry and his wife, began to take her with other teenagers on musical “deputation” around various local fellowships. In this way she came into contact with our own infant group (scarcely yet perceived as a “church”). The writer of this article first remembers her as a 14-year-old, a wealth of long chestnut hair flowing down her back, walking with a group of her friends into the Annexe of the Port Glasgow Temperance Institute, where we had begun to hold regular meetings for our young converts. “Guid gear gangs in sma’ buik (bulk)”, and it was not long before the lively blue-eyed teenager was making her mark on the company. Her beautiful firm, clear soprano voice was already in evidence, and at least two generations of our congregation will forever associate F. W. Lehman's wonderful hymn “The Love of God” with her rendering, which her minister Hugh Black never tired of requesting though she may possibly have tired of giving! She frequently sang in small groups, along with contemporaries such as Hugh Gilchrist, and was one of the original members of our church choir.
Even although her career took her for long periods away from the Greenock area, she was always closely attached to her home church and faithful in her spiritual service. In her Surrey years, along with her colleague and housemate Helen Hamilton, she attended our branch church in Hounslow, London. Shortly after her return to Greenock and her mother’s death, she contributed greatly to Miss Taylor’s care following the latter’s series of strokes in 1983. Never one to sit in idleness after her enforced retirement nearly a decade later, Betty became a regular voluntary worker in the New Dawn Bookshop for many years, a well-kent face behind the food counter, impressing us all by her sacrificial work ethic. Her turn on the church cleaning rota was equally regular though unseen, but her welcome as she dispensed the red hymnbooks was a lovely greeting for us all.
Throughout her whole life Betty maintained close relationships with a growing family of in-laws, nieces and nephews and their offspring, and also with a growing circle of friends both in and out of the church. Her membership of the Greenock Philharmonic Choir, along with the friendships forged there, was a source of happiness for many years. She also knew the great sadness of watching two of her two closest and oldest friends descend into dementia. Typically decided in her actions and demeanour, and notable for her integrity, she was not one to stand any nonsense. But along with her clearcut character and views, she was not only the staunchest of friends but also the essence of practical kindness and concern towards all who came within her sphere – including their cats, from the minister’s cat in the 1950s to the neighbour’s moggy who walked freely in and out of her home to the very last days of her life. Her influence spanned the generations, as has been amply attested by the tributes that have poured in from all quarters during the closing weeks of her life. She will be very deeply and sincerely missed not only by her grieving family, but by very many of our own church members. I think it will take a long time to become used to her absence from pew and home alike.
But for her it was “Break of Day”, in the words of a hymn she often used to sing. Had a regular church funeral been permitted, many more would have come to honour her. But the beauty of the day on which she was laid to rest, attended by blue skies and bird song, and above all the presence of Christ that was communicated through the spoken word and music, gently turned our thoughts to the place where she now is, beholding His Face in glory. Only in Christ – but always in Christ – is our consolation.
Copyright © 2014 Struthers Memorial Church All rights reserved
Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.