The sudden and untimely death of Fred W. MacLennan on 12th November, 2015 stunned and saddened the town of Stornoway, and the wider community throughout Lewis and Harris. It left his family and many friends bereft of a fine man, loyal friend and ever helpful and generous neighbour.
Big Fred, as he was affectionately known, was a remarkable man and a splendid citizen. His life-long career as a telephone engineer with the Post Office, and subsequently British Telecom, made him a welcome visitor in households and businesses throughout Lewis and Harris, and at an earlier stage, Inverness and the Loch Broom area around Ullapool. His professional skill and versatility was complemented by his cheerful and encouraging personality and, above all, characterised by his melodious voice for he truly obeyed the injunction to “make a joyful noise”.
He was born in Stornoway on 2 May 1938, the first child of Kenneth Maclennan and his wife Helena, née Whittaker, two well-known and respected citizens. He was brought up in Manor Park, in that part now named Willowglen Road. He was educated in The Nicolson Institute, where he proved a fine sportsman and was regarded by the younger boys as a kindly mentor and something of a hero figure. In due course he began his training as a telephone engineer and was called up for his National Service in the Royal Corps of Signals and served in Aden.
On his return he burnished his reputation as a sportsman and became a stalwart of the Stornoway Rugby Club and the Lewis and Harris Badminton League and then Stornoway Golf Club of which he was club captain in 1981 and 1982. He was more than a member of the Golf Club for he gave immense practical and “hands on” service on the Greens Committee for over 16 years. Throughout his 50 years of membership he participated with enthusiasm and no little skill and ambassadorial style in all its activities and was a role model to all.
In March 1964, he married Marie Maclean of Inaclete Road and Keith Street and in due course this friendly and hospitable couple produced three children, Susan, David and Helen who followed the family tradition of neighbourly generosity, hard work and commitment to high standards of community involvement.
Personally speaking, we - his next door neighbours - had the great privilege of becoming close friends. Fred’s kindness to us extended from our first day in Newton when he introduced himself with the words “I am Fred Maclennan and if there is ever anything Marie or I can do to help just give a shout.” How true that was over 50 wonderful years. He was the kind of man who if asked to lend a screwdriver, would promptly bring a selection, look at the job and more often than not, do the job for you all the while regaling one with yarns, words of encouragement and happy fellowship. My words make poor messengers of all that Fred contributed to our family life and what he so willingly shared with us, he also gave to others.
The packed church for his funeral service in Martin’s Memorial Church and the large procession to Sandwick Cemetery gave proof of the esteem and affectionate respect in which he was held by the entire community. He is survived by Marie, his wife of 51 years, his three children, five grandchildren and his devoted younger brothers Michael and John, to whom he has bequeathed a wonderful legacy of a good life well-lived. The sympathy of the community goes out to them in their great loss.
“We would like to remember Fred as the larger than life character he was, full of fun and ready to help anybody at any time. He will be sorely missed by family and friends, but never forgotten.”