Mearns mourns long-lived local legend

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With the death last week of Arthur Bruce, an end was brought to three generations of the family, who were boot and shoemakers, as well as retailers and repairers of footwear.

Established by his grandfather, John Bruce, the business continued by his son Arthur, and finally by Arthur himself. The family have served the local Laurencekirk community for well over a century.

Arthur, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday, served his apprenticeship in the shop next to his parents’ house in Garvock Street, Laurencekirk. After taking over the business, he and his wife Helen, better known as Lennie, moved to two different shops on the High Street, before retiring from business in 1986.

His service in Laurencekirk was interrupted during the second World War, when Arthur was sent as a Bevin Boy to work in various coal mines.

A keen outdoorsman, he and his brother would often cycle up one of the Angus Glens, after finishing work on a Saturday. Camping overnight, getting in some hill-walking and then cycling home in the evening often entailed return journeys of over 60 miles.

Beekeeping was his favourite hobby and his bees were moved around the Howe to collect their pollen from the blossom or fields. Later in the year, his honey, in jars or combs, was distributed among many families in the area.

He was a life member of the Mearns probus Club for more than 20 years and a regular attender. A long-time elder of the Church of Scotland, Arthur very rarely missed a service in the local church. He was also a regular walker with the 50+ group, attending every second Tuesday at various locations from Angus to Deeside and Aberdeenshire, with more local walks during the winter months. Until fairly recently, he would walk himself up to the car park at the top of Garvock Hill, two or three times a week.

As an historian, he knew an amazing amount about Laurencekirk and it was fortunate that, with the persuasion of Ronnie Gall in his Church, these memories were recorded and the book subsequently published. Copies of this book are still available in local shops.

Arthur died peacefully last weekend in the Community Hospital in Stonehaven, where he had been residing these past few months. He leaves a niece who lives in Wiltshire, whom Arthur visited regularly, driving there and back until only a few years ago.

His funeral service was held in Laurencekirk Church of Scotland, followed by an interment at the local cemetery.