ready with a smile and a word of encouragement; he was a good man in
every sense of the word.” That was how Rev Douglas Moore described
Willie Fielding at the funeral service held for him last week.
Willie Fielding was one of the
best known men in Maybole and Rev Moore continued, “When I first
came to Maybole, I had the benefit of the wisdom of a minister, a
session clerk, and a former session clerk to the West parish, namely
Willie Fielding. I make no claim that any of that wisdom has rubbed
off on me, but I was so grateful for that experience and knowledge.
“Willie was one of that trio,
someone whom I respected and was fond of. Most folk who met and knew
Willie share that same experience. I haven’t heard a critical word
said about Willie from those who knew him. Always ready with a smile
and a word of encouragement. He was a good man in every sense of the
Born on December 14, 1923, Willie
passed away, in his 85th year, on August 29 after
a period of illness. Born and brought up in Maybole, he went to
Cairn school and then on to Carrick. He had a happy childhood and
was the youngest of three. After leaving school, he started with the
Co-op as an apprentice grocer.
Rev Moore recounted some humorous
tales of Willie during this time, saying that, although he was
perhaps not heroic and indeed risk averse, “Willie was not without
courage however. Many of us know how bravely he bore the loss of his
granddaughter Karen and of course, his final illness.”
After leaving the Co-op, Willie
sold insurance before going back to the Co-op as a relief driver. He
moved on to the payroll office and Rev Moore continued, “It was
there that his skill was noticed. “Lawrence Cameron, who was in
banking himself and a fellow elder at the West Parish Church,
encouraged Willie and gave him a reference when he applied for a
position in the British Linen Bank in Girvan. “He served in what
became the Bank of Scotland in Girvan, Ayr and Maybole and he was so
well known that everyone mistook him for the manager.
“Willie was in the Boys Brigade as
a boy and in later years, became an officer. “The family played such
an important part in his life, “said Rev Moore, “and it was only in
the summer that he and his dear wife Nessie celebrated their 60th
wedding anniversary. “Even though it was in Ayr hospital, the staff
ensured it was still a special occasion. An occasion made happier
that their son Gordon and his family from Canada were there.
“His main interest, apart from his
family, was the church and helping people. With Willie of course,
these two things were intertwined. “Willie was an elder for 60 years
and a lay reader in the Church of Scotland for 40 of those years. He
was also a presbytery elder for a number of years. “These aspects of
Willie’s life are fairly unexceptional. The sum of these however
made Willie an exceptional man. He had a great faith, though at
times, it was sorely tested.
“He was approachable, an
encourager, a preacher of the Gospel, a great witness to the Lord.
He was kind and genuine with a smile or uplifting word. “Willie
talked the talk and walked the walk. He walked in the way of the
Lord. Re Moore said, “God sends someone like Willie to us once in a
blue moon. Why is that I wonder? I think the answer might be that
God wants more of us to be like Willie to others.
“Perhaps we can go from here
resolving to be ready to help someone with some of the grace and
insight that Willie showed to those of us who had the great
privilege of knowing and working with him. “Oh, I know that we’re
all different and have different talents, but I think the challenge
that someone like Willie gives us is to live our life for our Lord.
“To serve God and others with grace and love; to walk the walk of
“His final illness was hard for
those who knew him and loved him, but when the time came for him to
go, he just slipped peacefully away. We are left in his passing, as
in his life, with that sense of quiet dignity.” Willie and Nessie’s
son Gordon then thanked everyone who had sent cards, flowers and
other tributes. He especially thanked those who had provided support
to his mother during his father’s illness.
“Thank you for your love and
care,” he added. “When I was young,” he continued, “I was always
amazed that everyone seemed to know my dad – I was always known as
‘Willie’s boy’” Gordon recounted some anecdotes of life with his
father and his love for his family; grandchildren and great
grandchildren who had all got to know him well despite the physical
distance between them. He also spoke of his dad’s love for the West
Parish Church, or the Glen Church as it was known locally. “He was
baptised in that church in January, 1924 by Rev Williamson and
subsequently ordained as an elder by the same minister.”
Ministers Willie served with were:
Rev A Williamson (who was minister from 1916-1957); Rev S Goudie
(1958-1963); Rev G Fisher (1963-1972); Rev J Brown (1973-1979); Rev
D Purvis (1980-1985); Rev J Stuart (1986-1995); Rev T Bogle
(1996-2003). In 2003 it was agreed to unite the two congregations of
Maybole Old and Maybole West and Rev Dave Whiteman became minister.
Rev John Stuart moved to Knoxville, Tennessee and on his church’s
web site last week he posted a tribute to
Willie which Gordon shared with everyone.
Written just before Willie died,
Rev Stuart said, “Willie was a great mentor to me and a partner in
God’s work when I was pastor in Maybole. He was our Session Clerk,
as well as being a lay preacher. “Willie worked in the local bank
and was well known throughout the town. He was a great smiler and
always enjoyed being with people.
“He had a wonderful way of dealing
with trouble and crises through his rich sense of humour. Many a
time, when I would get all hot and bothered over an issue, Willie
was able to disarm the situation by finding something amusing to
say. It was a special gift and I became a better pastor because of
it. “Willie had his own heartbreaks and troubles, but he never let
them get him down or seriously damage his faith. When his beloved
grand-daughter died of leukaemia, he was heart-broken, but he didn’t
let his tragic loss cloud his life. He still served God faithfully
and loved serving the church. “In my books, he was a great man and a
wonderful Christian. I am truly thankful for having known him as a
fellow servant for the Lord.”
Willie Fielding will truly be
missed by the people of Maybole whose thoughts are with Nessie,
Gordon and his wife Moira, grandchildren Martin and David and their
families including great grandchildren Andrew, Emma and Adam.