Tribute to ‘grand old lady’ of Auchenblae

Mary Craig's old style of teaching provided a solid grounding for her pupils
Mary Craig's old style of teaching provided a solid grounding for her pupils

Tribute has been paid to the ‘grand old lady’ of Auchenblae, Mary Craig, who has died aged 107.

Even in her final days, visitors were treated to an impressive repertoire of poems. Word perfect, she would recite one poem after another, without need for any prompting.

Her funeral at Auchenblae Church was attended by many former pupils, some in their 80s, who paid their last respects to the teacher who had a profound influence on their young lives.

Thanks to Miss Craig’s old style of teaching, pupils left Auchenblae School with a thorough grounding in grammar, arithmetic, history, and geography, which would stand them in good stead.

They were taught how to write legibly, spell correctly, recite tables fluently, and understand where, and when, to use an apostrophe. Miss Craig was strict and demanding but always fair. She retired in 1970, having taught at Auchenblae (Fordoun Public School) for 32 years.

Although both her parents came from fishing families, her father Jim, chose to work on the land.

Miss Craig was born in 1910 while at Drumnagair Farm, near Laurencekirk. Her younger sister Elizabeth sadly died at the age of two, after contracting measles.

She won a bursary to Mackie Academy where she gained a first prize in geography, French, domestic science and writing, and second prize in Latin, history, mathematics, science and English. She went on to gain an MA from King’s College University, Aberdeen.

Miss Craig taught briefly at Gourdon and Drumlithie before returning to the school she had attended as a pupil in Auchenblae.

Incredibly, at the age of 100, she still collected her own newspaper, and a bit of shopping, before walking back up the steep street and climbing the 11 steps to her home.

She was a lifelong member of Auchenblae Guild, and a generous contributor to the customary ‘sales of work’. Her trademark tablet, wrapped in butter paper and tied in fine wool, and hot-off-the-girdle pancakes were always popular.

With the help of friends, Miss Craig remained in her home, Donardo, until she was 104.

In 2014, she moved to Burnside Nursing Home, Laurencekirk, where she remained content in the care of the dedicated staff, regularly visited by friends and family.

*Obituary contributed by Jenny Thomson