Thomas Thomson Paterson (1909 – 1994)

Thanks to an internet search it is now possible to reproduce Erik T Paterson’s obituary of a remarkable man, his father, emeritus professor Thomas Thomson Paterson BSc(Edin), MA, PhD(Cantab), Archaeologist, Palaeontologist, Geologist, Glaciologist, Geographer, Anthropologist, Ethnologist, Sociologist and world authority on Administration, who died on the 9th of April, 1994, in Lions Gate Hospital, North Vancouver, after a ten year battle with cancer of the prostate.More...Tom Paterson was born on the 29th of September 1909 in Buckhaven, Fife, the youngest son of the union of a fisherman’s daughter and a collier.   Performing extremely well in high school in Buckhaven, he won a scholarship to enter Edinburgh University in 1926, in spite of the offer of a ‘good job in a bank’ arranged by the headmaster of the school.

While at Edinburgh he gained an Honours BSc in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, a similar degree in Geology and Zoology, and was the Vans Dunlop Scholar, Shaw-Macfie Lang Fellow, and Falconer memorial Fellow.   He entered the medical faculty and gained his 2nd MB in Anatomy, Physiology and Histology.   In 1933 he earned the Anthony Wilkins Studentship in Anthropology and 1851 Exhibition Research Fellowship to go to Trinity College, Cambridge, eventually being elected to a Fellowship in that college.   His studies earned him an MA, and later, a PhD, and involved many expeditions – to East Africa, India, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.   A major inlet on the coast of northeast Baffin Island bears his name.   By the time the 1930s drew to an end he had been appointed the Curator of the Museum of

Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge, a position which gave him the status of full Professor.   In 1937 he was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  In 1938 he married Elna Johanne Hygen of Høyanger, Norway, niece of Otto Fleischer, Commander-in-Chief of the Norwegian Forces in exile during World War II.   Their honeymoon coincided with the Munich Crisis.   Since much of the iron ore upon which Germany depended came from Kiruna in northern Sweden and down the coast of Norway from Narvick, Paterson explored the possibility of sabotaging them.   The Norwegian authorities suggested forcefully that it might be better if he left the country with his new wife.   The same year he gave a demonstration of Eskimo string figures on television.   The following year, with the outbreak of World War II, he joined Royal Naval Intelligence, was transferred to the Army Staff College to lecture on European Anthropology and the causes of war, and was further transferred to Operations Research for the Royal Air Force on a variety of projects under Sir Henry Tizard.   In Combined Operations he was severely wounded early on D-Day on the Normandy beachhead.   The remainder of the war for him was spent directing the air defences of northern England on a semi-invalid basis.

After the war he returned to his former position at Cambridge, but, disliking working with dead things, he resigned in 1947.   Much of the summer of that year he spent stationed at Baker Lake, Canada, surveying for the DEW Line.  Some months later he was awarded a grant to study industrial relations in the Scottish coal fields, on the lines perfected in the RAF, and he carried out much of this work at the Glenrothes coal pit, not far from Buckhaven.   Three years later, after the grant was terminated due to post-war austerity, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social and Economic Research of Glasgow University.

With the formation of Strathclyde University in the same city, he was appointed Professor in charge of the Department of Administration, building it up to be the largest of its kind in Europe, second only to the Harvard School of Business Administration, and establishing the first MBA programme in Europe.   He finished his career at Strathclyde as a Research Professor.

In his years in Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities, he undertook many consultancy positions such as studying the administrative aspects of the medical care of patients, including the psychiatricly ill, developing the constitution of Southern Rhodesia (with the unfortunate side effect of enabling it to declare independence unilaterally), revitalising the Technion University in Haifa, Israel, reorganising the civil services of Denmark and Finland, reorganising the sugar industries of Nigeria and Kenya, reorganising the coal, gold and tea industries of South Africa on non-racial lines, and reorganising the nursing profession in the United Kingdom (ill-fated because those charged with implementing his recommendations did not take the trouble to understand how they ought to be applied).   He wrote 15 books and published more than 90 papers on a wide variety of subjects.

He spent his final years, after his official retirement in 1974, in North Vancouver, BC, Canada, partially as a visiting professor at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, but also continuing to carry out various consultancy jobs.

Throughout his career he was friend and colleague to many people such as T C Lethbridge, J M Wordie, L S B and Mary Leakey, R Fortune, G Bateson, Margaret Mead, H de Terra, P Teilhard de Chardin (S J), Ethel J Lindgren, M Utsi, A Cairncross, A Hoffer, and H Osmond.   His students from Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities often came to occupy senior positions in industry or Chairs of Administration world-wide.

He was an excellent and popular speaker, both to small groups in seminars and to larger audiences, tending to focus upon the fundamental meanings of the topics about which he spoke, never presuming that his listeners had the same
understanding of meanings as he did.   His writings were equally devoted to clarity of meaning rather than jargon and woolly phraseology.   His approaches to the concepts that he dealt with, he stated/claimed, were metaphysical, and yet, like some of the most esoteric mathematics, of very practical application.

For much of his early life he was involved, with his brother, with the Free Masons, enjoying their egalitarianism, but was put off by the snobbishness he encountered in the English lodges.   Until the advent of modern communications he would boast that he could tell, within ten miles, the home town of a Scot on hearing how that person spoke.   He loved travel, circling the world twice during his retirement.  His final trip was in a chartered boat, fishing up the coast of British Columbia, barely two years before he died.   He loved good food and had an almost unerring instinct for exceptional places to eat.   Dinner with him was never boring, being an almost unending-seeming succession of interesting anecdotes.   He was a connoisseur of fine malt whiskies.   He adored small children and the feeling was mutual.

He is predeceased by his father, Matthew, mother, Janet, five sisters and one brother, and his first wife, Elna.   He is survived by his second wife, Marion, his son, Dr Erik T Paterson – myself – of Creston, BC, Canada, his daughter, Kirsty
Groen of Bowen Island, BC, his two grand-daughters, Tara Duncan of Glasgow, and Fiona Paterson of Creston, grandson, Daniel Groen, and great grand-daughter, Ashley Roxanne Duncan.

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