joan TATERKA died in France on June 3, aged 82, after being diagnosed as seriously ill. With her passing, Melrose has lost a stalwart, valued and much-loved resident.
She was the daughter of Douglas Lawrie and Sadie MacGregor, and eldest sister to Graham (who died in 1963) and to her twin brothers, Duncan and David (he having predeceased her in 1985). She was quietly proud of all her family’s considerable achievements in their academic, professional and sporting lives.
Joan’s forebears were much entwined with Melrose.
Her maternal MacGregor grandfather was headmaster of Melrose Grammar school, and the school and schoolhouse buildings still stand in Huntly Road.
0n her paternal side her great-grandfather started a coal business by the railway station and in 1895 he built the house, “Laurieston” in Newlyn Road.
Her grandfather, Bailie Thomas Lawrie, founded the grocer’s business of Thomas Lawrie & Son around 1886 at the top of Abbey Street (now Rettie & Co.) Joan’s father and another of the bailie’s sons, Bill, then carried on the business which traded for almost 90 years until 1975.
Bill (her uncle) had a distinguished role in public service – an unequalled term of 16 years as provost of Melrose from 1946, and for the same period chairman of Melrose Festival executive and thereafter honorary president until his death in 1984. Also a committed churchman, he was an elder of High Cross Church for more than 50 years.
Joan excelled at school, was Melrose Festival Queen in 1943, being dux girl of Melrose Grammar and proudly received her jubilee celebrant award in 1993.
She met her future husband, Steve Taterka, in Melrose where he was interned during wartime and after their marriage they set up home in north-east France where Joan lived and worked for many years.
However, in the 1980s she returned to Melrose to help care for her father and thereafter she made the town her home again. Steve had died some years previously and her much-loved daughter Trish now had her own family and was settled in France. Over the years there were happy visits to and fro between Scotland and France and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren came to enjoy many holidays in the Borders.
Joan, with great affection for Melrose and deep knowledge of its history, soon became active in the life of the town, including Melrose Festival executive (latterly an honorary vice-president), Age Concern Scotland, the golf club and, with her French language skills, a much-valued guide at Abbotsford, enjoying a warm relationship with the late Patricia and the late Dame Jean Maxwell Scott.
Joan loved and valued her circle of family and friends, encompassing Melrose, the Borders, St Andrews, Edinburgh and France.
This remarkable lady will be much missed.