Tributes paid to Bobby Corson

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“Lochaber’s Longest Serving Funeral Director”

Born: June 26, 1932; Died: December 19, 2018

Bobby Corson, who has died aged 86 years, was a pillar of community life in Mallaig and surrounding areas for nearly 60 years.

Bobby was born in Kirkconnel, Dumfries-shire to Joe and Rosina Corson, he grew up in Dumfries before the family moved to Inverlochy when his father got a job with the BA.

As a schoolchild Bobby worked at Marshall and Pearson, then upon leaving school, he started with John McLellan’s [funeral directors], working closely with Johnnie the Blunt and Bob Dixon as an apprentice joiner.

In the late 40s, when just a teenager, Bobby was a founding member of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. He regularly put himself at risk to help others in trouble, alongside good friends Alan Burgan (who sadly passed away a few months previously) and Jimmy Ness who is now the last surviving founder.  Jimmy recalls many’s a precarious situation he, Bobby, and the rest of the team found themselves in up on the Ben. No matter how grim the situation was, though, when asked how he was doing, Bobby’s response was always the same, “No bad”.

In October 1960, Bobby was sent a letter from a couple in Surrey, who wrote to him, thanking him for saving the life of their son in August of that year, following an accident on Ben Nevis which claimed the life of their son’s friend. From its condition, it’s clear that Bobby treasured this letter. But, to the best of our knowledge, he never once spoke about it. Arrogance and pride were never things he entertained.

In the late 1950s Bobby met a young lady by the name of Jessie Hutchison at the dances, they married in 1959, soon after Bobby completed his National Service. They moved to Mallaig the following year and quickly became part of the community. Bobby worked as a joiner for Grieves. The family was complete with the arrival of daughter Anne in the 1960’s.

On the death of the local joiner/undertaker Jimmy McPherson, Bobby started out on his own supported by his wife Jessie, who was the secretary of Mallaig Secondary School until her retirement in 2003. Bobby and Jessie were so committed to the community they served, they never ventured far together – they would take it in turns to visit their daughter Anne and grandson Andrew in Kent, so that no funerals were delayed.

The only time in recent years they travelled south together was in 2013 when Jessie was awarded her MBE. The award was a huge surprise as Jessie felt they were just doing their bit for the community.

Bobby was a man of principle and integrity. He had a strong moral compass and an incredible work ethic. He was careful and conscientious, always ready to share his years of knowledge and experience with those working alongside him. Such as while working in the attic space of the Chlachain, he made a point of alerting those he was working with to the dangers of the open loft hatch – before an accidental backwards step saw him plummet through it himself.

He had a mischievous side to him and would love to tease the school children. Bobby was responsible for helping dozens of children across Lochaber stop picking their noses after he told them of his own nose-picking habit, and then show them his missing finger to alert them to the dire consequences.

Beneath the wind-up merchant, was a man who would go out of his way to lend others a hand. Who, like Jessie, didn’t just live in the community but served it tirelessly. Whether helping with funeral arrangements for a friend or neighbor, or laterally, helping entertain the residents at the Mackintosh Centre, Bobby always put the needs of others before his own.

In 2017, aged 85 years, Bobby started to build an extension to the house so their grandson could come stay. Never a man to ask for help, he could be seen on the roof doing all the work himself. He never wanted anyone to make a fuss over him, and while he may not have been renowned for showing his emotions, he cared deeply for his friends, his neighbours and, of course, his family.

December 2017 saw the passing of his dear wife Jessie. This was a huge blow to Bobby. He missed her terribly, and at the beginning of 2018 Bobby decided to hang up his hat for the final time and retire from conducting funerals. This was short lived as Bobby couldn’t just put his feet up and retire. This earned him the title of Lochaber’s Longest Serving Funeral Director, a title which no other can get close to.

Over the course of 2018, Bobby suffered ill health, passing away with his daughter by his side in the Mackintosh Centre just days after the anniversary of Jessie’s death. Bobby’s only wish was that he was to leave from his home going directly to the cemetery. This was honoured along with Bobby resting at home prior to his funeral in the extension that he never got to see finished.

Lochaber has lost a humble man of skill, conscientious and integrity. R.I.P Bobby “See you in the Chlachain”.

SG

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Bobby Corson. NO F03 Bobby Corson 01