Tribute: Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher

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The man they called Joe Kelvin, the bastion of Kelvin Marine Diesels across Argyll and the Isles has died. Joe Fletcher was 92.

Born in Glasgow in 1928, he was evacuated to Rothesay with his mother and two sisters during the Second World War.

There he developed his interest and fascination in marine engineering.

He cycled across maritime Scotland, learning the sea, observing ship and engine-building with his best friend Ferguson Rogers who would later become his best man in 1955 when he married Allena Mckechnie.

She brought encouragement to his dreams of engineering and he followed in his father’s footsteps to join what was the Bergius Kelvin Company in Glasgow.

He rose from shop floor to executive management in a career that would see him secure the most vital and respected commodity: trust.

Fishermen across the West of Scotland and beyond knew they had a friend in Joe Fletcher, a man who would always do his best to meet and exceed their needs without compromising the business. He was reliable.

Joe Fletcher took the best of Scottish engineering across the UK and internationally.

The family home in Glasgow was seen by neighbours and friends as a branch of the United Nations as he and his wife, Allena, welcomed visitors from around the world.

And family life was boosted by a litany of languages interspersed into every day conversation.

He had continuing success at the annual International Boat Show in London, where he showed his magical touch for sales: charm, a mischievous smile and making every customer special.

He travelled Scotland every week, returning to roads he’d bicycled particularly in Argyll, Lochaber and the islands off the West Coast.

When he married Allena in 1955, the pair spent many weekends on Loch Awe and Loch Etive.

Joe maintained and managed the engines on a series of cruisers including the Darthula, while Allena was the tour guide as the boats carried passengers amid spectacular scenery.

Both had a continuing love for Oban and made regular day trips or long weekends to the town.

When he retired, Joe continued to take his wealth of experience into marine consultancy in Scotland, Europe and the Middle East.

In recent years, Joe suffered a series of falls that impacted on his health.

While in hospital in Glasgow after a fall in March 2020, he acquired Covid-19. He showed the spirit of his generation by fighting back and returning home.

He passed away in Glasgow last week, aged 92, survived by his wife, three children and two grandchildren. He is pre-deceased by his daughter-in-law, Lyn.