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Memories of John


24th September 1934 - 8th December 2002

This page has been made so that those who have asked may know
a little more about John.
I have included a transcript of the words spoken at his funeral
by our family friend, Rev. Susan Cowell.

You will also find some photographs taken in our back garden
on our Ruby Wedding Anniversary on 14th July 2002

The background music is our song
"My Grace Is Sufficient For You".
It is my favourite of all the tunes John wrote.

copyright: Elizabeth 20th January 2003


(Spoken by Rev. Susan Cowell at the private gathering of family and neighbours at our home on 12th December 2002)

It is my privilege as a family friend, but a very hard task today, to say a few words. But first my sincere sympathy to you - Elizabeth, Fiona and Barbara, to Ian and Pat, the grandchildren and the neighbours at the death of John. And I am sure that I speak for others in this village and far beyond, for ministers and congregations and individuals over a wide area - sharing in your loss. Today our prayers are for you all.

And for John, however hard it is, there must be rejoicing as he has entered into the very presence of his Lord and Master whom he has served so faithfully and so musically since retiring from Ferranti and even from the age of twelve.

Knowing you all as I do, in your better moments you know John is safe but in our human weaker moments we would rather he was still here - and so we ask in human anguish "Why?" We are certainly not the first nor will we be the last to ask and there is no answer except in the words of Jesus' humble obedience. "Nevertheless not My will but Thine be done." - and then, that begs the question of what kind of God in this? - but John was one of God's people and God has a right to call him home and we are also God's people and God will comfort us too and give us strength and peace. The words of Isaiah "You Lord give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in You." (Isaiah: 26: 3)
And in the words of Paul "Nothing in death of life, in this world as it is on the world as it shall be, nothing in all creation can separate us or our loved one from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39)

So we can be comforted that John and baby Alasdair are together in the very presence of God.

Psalm 23 paints this picture that just as the Shepherd's home the very young and the sick and the old animals live with the family as part of the family, so we too will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

I have a more musical picture in my mind. The final Psalm tells us our duty - to praise God with trumpets, harps, lyres, drums, flutes and cymbals. Now how on earth could one person play all those instruments at the same time? An organist in the one who gets nearest to it, sitting at a bank of notes and a multitude of pedals - but even so, our human restrictions cannot comply with the Psalmist's commands. But today, and already, the music of heaven, perfect as it is, has been augmented by our dear one.

Today we thank God for John and for the rest that is now his.

copyright: Rev. Susan Cowell, December 2002

John, Elizabeth &

Ruby Wedding - 14th July 2002

(Spoken by Rev Susan Cowell at John's funeral at Morton hall Crematorium on 12th December 2002)

When I think of John, I find my thoughts turning to the parable of the talents and that chap who was given 5000 gold coins. Now Jesus tells the story very much from a banker's or an accountant's point of view but we can understand it however it suits. Maybe John and Elizabeth have 5000 gold coins - may be not - but they certainly share many interests and a number many gifts and talents among their skills.

I have known you for 15 years, and treasured and value our friendship - the kindly wave while dog walking in the morning, the music request on the radio as I headed off to Hungary, working at our holiday clubs in 1992 and 3 - those days certainly exercised John's talents at the keyboard in particular. Many golden hours have been shared with others through the keyboard as John and Elizabeth Tolson got P.S.A.L.M. - for those of you who don't know, "Please Sing A Lively Melody" - and in word and music, in story and song, they took the Gospel message for old and young alike round local churches and groups and far afield also. And what are computers for if not communicating the Gospel message and sharing of the Good News - even as far as... Texas!

So, as I have said, that uses up quite a few gold coins.

John had other gifts and interests but, I am told however, was only the gardener's labourer at Annieston Place - but indeed a willing helper under instruction (!) and involved in all things to do with nature - surveying plants and birds for the Scottish Wildlife Trust and taking in four-footed boarders in the way of Guide Dogs while their owners were on holiday or were indisposed.

Of course his family - not a wider family of his own or indeed Elizabeth's for relatives are non-existent and being an uncle was not one of his gifts. But rather, he lavished all his care and love with Elizabeth on the succeeding generations: Fiona and Barbara and, in due course, sons in law Ian and Pat and eventually Sheenagh, Katherine, little Alasdair and Callum in Northern Ireland and near at hand Douglas, Scott and Angus = more gold coins indeed = and John helping with driving, caring, sharing, loving.

I could go on and on about the work John did - joint treasurer of the Bible Society Biggar Branch, Open Doors representative in Scotland and playing the organ = I should think in every church in Lanarkshire, helping minister in the Presbytery and indeed he was the regular organist at West Linton for many years.

And all this in retirement! He certainly did not take to his slippers. His working years at ICI and ultimately for Ferranti - officially as an Electronics Engineer and also as export sales manager and contract handler.

Now, lastly two things. Gold reflects the light. It shines back at you. John did all these things, not out of interest for himself, not for personal gain but in the service of his Lord and for the benefit, interest and pleasure of others also. In other words he did indeed use his gifts wisely and well and surely made 5000 coins and more besides.

Today we give thanks for John, for all he was and is, for all he did and for all our memories and we must know that he has already reported home.
"You gave me 5000 gold coins, and here are another 5000"

and the fantastic words of commendation

"Well done, you good and faithful servant. Come on in and share My happiness".

copyright: Susan Cowell, December 2002

J,E & family2.jpg

Ruby Wedding - 14th July 2002

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