Judge Gilbert Burnett
It is not difficult to summarise a friendship with Gil. It was a privilege, an honour and a great pleasure. I don’t know how many times we met up since his first visit to Crathes in the early 1970s, but there have been few Gatherings of Burnetts where not only has Gil been present, but also many members of his extended family. Without them, our Crathes Gatherings would have been for the poorer as also would have been our visitsto the USA. Fiona and I went to stay with Gil in Wilmington shortly after we were married. On the way there, we were stopped by the police for speeding and taken to a police station because of our excessive speed. Although the police only cautioned us, when we told them where we were going, such was their respect for the well-known judge, they said that if we had told them so in the first place and we would have been told just to drive on in order to avoid arriving late
Gil and his sister provided our daughter, Eliza, and me with necessary parental supervision at the Grandfather Mountain Games in 2001 when learned on arrival that I had to officiate. I am regularly reminded of that memorable visit by a gift from Gil and which hangs proudly on the House of Crathes dining room wall.
Gil may not have given me much credit for the opening event of the first Crathes Gathering in 1992 when Tensions in Trust, which was staged at the Castle. He and his party had to endure some two hours of this historical theatrical almost immediately as they stepped off the plane after an exhausting transatlantic journey. It was the equivalent of about 4.00 a.m. but it would never have crossed his mind to make such an observation just as he did not complain about an accident at Muchalls Castle in 2013. Our coach had to park some way off from the Castle and the Castle owner came in his car to provide some transport for those who wished to avoid quite a long walk. Gil stood aside to allow the vehicle to pass before turning around to pick him up and return to the castle. He slipped and fell about 10 feet into a deep ditch. He broke two ribs, but he never mentioned it until he returned to the USA several days later.
We knew that 2017 was likely to be Gil’s last visit to Crathes and there were many events during that week to provide us with wonderful memories. Other than Gil’s birthday dinner to which we had the honour to be invited, the highlight of the week was Gil’s 92nd birthday party which was held in the Golden Garden in the Crathes. I do not have a photograph of the many members of Gil’s own family who were present and so make no apologies for the one below which Sandra sent to me. We were as privileged as any to be present.
Others are better equipped to record their admiration and respect for Gil in his professional and home lives and so eulogies from others will be more informative. We knew him best as a very good friend and someone whom the name of Burnett is proud to have numbered amongst its members.
James Burnett of Leys