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Stewart Maclean was always destined to lead a life less ordinary if the living conditions after his birth not long after the end of the Second World War are anything to go by.
Stewart, who passed away in the Belford Hospital earlier this month after a brave battle against a difficult 18-month illness, was born Donald Stewart Maclean in Inverness on April 1, 1948.
His first home was an old MTB (Motor Torpedo Boat), which his father, Archie, bought at the end of the war and converted into a home for the family at Camusnagaul, as well as a base for a café business for Stewart’s mother, Maisie, to run in the converted engine room.
However, the family then moved to a small cottage in Treslaig – with no electricity or
running water – and then, a few years later, around 1956, Stewart’s parents bought Innseagan Guest House which became the family home for a number of years.
Stewart’s first job was actually while still at school and saw him waiting tables at Innseagan dressed in a white shirt with a black bow tie.
When Stewart left school, he went to work at the pulp and paper mill at
Corpach under the expert guidance of Alex Duncan, and it was while there that he
studied with Strathclyde University and gained his various accountancy
It was also during his time at the pulp mill that he met his future wife, Linda Gee, and when Stewart accepted a job with Timex in Switzerland, the young couple got married fairly soon after, on September 23, 1972.
While in Switzerland, Stewart worked his way up to become Manager of Marketing Control for Europe with the company, and this involved spells working in Brazil.
When his parents retired from Innseagan in 1979, Stewart and Linda came home to run and develop the hotel and they also built and operated Lochside Apartments.
It was in the November of 2001 that Stewart and Linda sold Innseagan and their
base moved to their next home, at Edengrove Hall in Onich, from where Stewart ran and developed his extensive property portfolio – which he was still doing up until just a few days before he passed away.
He and Linda started to travel to South Africa regularly on holiday, and they became very good friends with the driver of the car that picked them up from the airport on their first visit.
As the friendship developed they supported him and his family in many ways, including
buying them a new house in an upmarket area of the township where they lived, and they also helped see the children through school and supported the school they went to.
The South African family actually went on to name their own son Stewart, and Stewart and Linda kept in close contact with the family for a long time afterwards.
Stewart also sponsored a local football team in South Africa called Try Again and they proudly took to the pitch with ‘Fort William Scotland’ emblazoned on their shirts.
When brother Fergie visited, he and Stewart attended matches in the township
and it was clear how much Stewart was greatly respected by the team. Stewart and Linda also financed a nursery to enable mothers to go out to work.
Prior to their regular South Africa visits, Stewart and Linda also travelled the
world on many exotic holidays and had some amazing experiences – too many to mention here.
Some years ago, a group of children from Belarus who had been affected by the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986 came to Fort William on a holiday, and Stewart and Linda hosted them at their home in Onich and took them on visits around Lochaber.
Several years ago, one of the boys who had been on that visit came back to Fort William and met up with Stewart to personally thank him.
Linda sadly passed away in April 2013, and Stewart continued with his work
both at home and in South Africa.
In an attempt to help fill the huge gap in his life after Linda died, Stewart purchased a 38ft motorboat by the name of ‘Liberty’ and, along with family and friends, he spent many happy hours on the water and meeting fellow ‘boaties’ at the marinas in Tobermory, Oban, Mallaig and the Outer Hebrides.
Stewart was a very loyal and sociable person, and no matter where he went he engaged with everyone, asking questions, listening and took an interest in who they were and what they did.
It was during their visits to South Africa that Stewart and Linda had met Jane, and five
years after Linda died, a spark was kindled between Stewart and Jane, and soon after that she came to live in Onich.
Finally, a sadness that had been with him since Linda’s death had been lifted and there was again a sparkle in Stewart’s eyes and a spring in his step.
They got engaged on Christmas Day, 2019, but then Covid, combined with the onset of
Stewart’s illness, came along, so their plans from then on had to be put on hold.
Stewart was involved in many local issues here in Lochaber, including the ‘Teabag’ campaign to save the Belford Hospital from being downgraded to a cottage hospital; the A82 Partnership to improve the local trunk road, the Local Enterprise Company and many more local issues over the years.
It was after Linda’s death that Stewart set up a fund in her memory to help any small businesses that wished to apply.
Stewart, along with his brother Ronnie and others, was also a director of Fort William Football Club for five years, where he again took a leadership role.
Stewart is survived by brothers Ronnie, Fergie and Lewis; sisters-in-law Nishie,
Rosie and Helen; nieces and nephews Margaret, Shona, Heidi, David, Louise, Eilidh, Martin and Lindsey.
Stewart may have been a man who trained in accountancy, but he was someone who knew the value of the things in life that really matter.
Whether it be here in his native Lochaber, or further afield, such as in South Africa, those places are all the richer for the life of Donald Stewart Mac’ean and all the poorer with his passing.
MAIN PIC: NO F04 Stewart MacLean smiling
Stewart pictured aboard his boat on which he enoyed many happy times. NO Fo4 Stewart Maclean boat