Hector Macaulay of Kinloch, 1911 – 2007
On Sabbath the 4th of February 2007 the community of Kinloch on the Isle of Lewis was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mr Hector Macaulay, 33 Balallan. Although in indifferent health for the past few months the end came with startling suddenness.
“Heg”, as he was affectionately known, was a remarkable person in many ways. It is difficult to believe that we shall not see his spare, erect figure again in our midst. He was an inspirational figure in the congregation. He retained his strength and faculties right up to the end. It seemed as if our elderly, but young at heart, friend could go on for ever.
Hector was born on the 10th of September 1911, the sixth member of a family of seven. Like many of his contemporaries he served in the Royal Navy during the 2nd World War. He saw active service in the North and South Atlantic and witnessed first hand the unforgettable sights of the D-Day landings. On many occasions he would regale guests with some of his wartime reminiscences. Post-war, Hector married Margaret Nicolson of Orinsay and worked briefly as a tram car driver in Glasgow before he and his wife returned to their native isle, settling on a croft at 33 Balallan. They were blessed with a devoted family of three sons and two daughters.
Hector had an intense interest in the environment and was responsible for producing a potion from bog bean which was considered a cure for particular ailments. He used to receive correspondence from many parts of the world from those who shared his interest in natural recipes. He was a fund of information regarding the way of life that once prevailed in these islands and was able to give names for all the different utensils and equipment once used on crofts, but long discarded.
Although a regular attender on Sabbath and at the prayer meeting for many, many years, he never made public profession of faith until March 1998 at the age of 86. Some would regard the death of his wife in 1997 as the catalyst that propelled him to take this step. Towards the end of 1998 the congregation were electing elders and Hector was elected by the congregation. He was then 87. He declined to accept office. He was unwell at that time. (I did not encourage him, I was not long the pastor in the congregation and I thought what can an 87 year old in ill-health offer? How little I knew my man; I was to be proved wrong!) Three years later the congregation were again electing elders. Hector was elected, and this time he accepted, stating that the Lord had chastened him for not accepting office the first time he was elected. At the age of 90 years he was ordained to the office of elder, (possibly the oldest person in the history of the church to be ordained to office), and he adorned his office in an exceptional way. It was as if his youth was literally renewed.
He was an ever-present at all services until the last months of his life, and his appreciation of the truth was evident from his rapt attention. He did pastoral visitation in the congregation. He played an active role in the Kirk Session. He participated in Sunday School Outings, and had a real prayerful and passionate concern for the whole of the congregation. In short, despite his age, Hector played a very active role in the life of the congregation. His likeable personality drew young and old alike. It was a privilege to spend time in fellowship with him. He loved the Scriptures and was always ready to discuss them. His mind was certainly not dimmed with age. He displayed a keen awareness and excellent grasp of current affairs. He would discuss international affairs, as well as national. In local affairs he was particularly concerned by the declining school roll and lack of young families in the community.
Hector, although of cheerful disposition, was no stranger to times of spiritual darkness and conflict, but even then his relationship to the Saviour shone through. During the last two years of life he used to go into one of the residential homes in Stornoway, for a couple of weeks, twice a year, for respite care. He would spend his time there visiting all the residents. He would read to them, have worship with them, and just act as unofficial resident missionary to the Home. On his return from his “holidays” as he liked to call those respite periods, he would exhort his brethren to be mindful of the residents in the various residential homes. He loved people and they loved him in return. His personality was so warm and attractive, and his love for the Saviour radiated from his very being. Of him it could be said,
Christ’s own people loved him dearly,
And their love with love he paid.
Sadly for us, his time on earth was coming to an end. Towards the end of January 2007 he was hospitalized and although he was able to return home for a few days his condition necessitated further hospitalization. During these last days of his life Hector remained bright and alert. His focus was on the things that are above. His desire for the heavenly country was finally realized as he was taken to be for ever with the Lord. It seems to this writer that the words composed for another man of God are also applicable to our late departed friend:
Though his years on earth were many,
Five they wanted of five score,
Never through their long duration
Had his strength given way before;
As a brightly shining candle,
Burning with a steady ray,
So was he with no obscuring
Till his spirit passed away.
His family were exceptionally attentive to this bright and winsome Christian. We commend his sorrowing and devoted family – Donald J. and Sheila, Kenny, Mary Bell and family, Roddy A, Christine and family, Cathie and John, and Joan and Iain – to the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
Rev D. A. Macdonald is minister of Kinloch Free Church of Scotland, Isle of Lewis. The above obituary is taken from the Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland, April 2007, with permission.
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