Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Legacy of Colonel Walter Scott

(This article is a continuation of one written on June 17 and published on this blog site.)

Colonel Scott had a lifelong interest in policemen and fireman. He was an Honorary Police Commissioner of New York and always sent a check when there was a grieving family. He created a perpetual endowment to provide a medal to be awarded for heroism in New York, Boston, Worcester, Holyoke and Detroit. In 2005, the Walter Scott Medal was awarded to Firefighter Thomas P. Maxwell, Ladder Company 44 in New York City. This is the only reference I could find on the Internet. Perhaps, the other cities have stopped presenting the medal. I did find another reference where Yiqin Chang won the Walter Scott Prize in mathematics also in 2005.

For many years, Colonel Scott was a familiar figure at all Scottish gatherings and was a member of several Robert Burns clubs. He was a close friend of Miss Jean Amour Burns Brown of Dumfries, a great-great-granddaughter of the poet, and was also a descendant of his namesake. Among his old friends was Sir Harry Lauder. His clubs are too many to list and so are his honors, but he did receive the Silver Grand Cross of the Republic of Austria, a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and was a member of the Belgian Order of Leopold II. During World War I, he was a member of the New York Scottish Highlanders. He was also a manager of the St. Andrew’s Society of New York.

This article appeared in the New York Times, dated November 29, 1935, “Colonel Walter Scott, Past Royal Chief of the Order of Scottish Clans in the United States and Canada and former senior vice-president of Butler Brothers, died at 4:30 a.m. yesterday at his home, 225 West Eighty-Sixth street after an illness of two years. He was 73 years old.”

Colonel Scott is buried in the historic Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. On a visit to New York City, I rode the subway out to Brooklyn and visited the Scott family site in Greenwood. It was a long, long walk to the location and once there I found simple stone markers for the family. I also visited the home address at least twice and found a large square condominium-type building covering a city block. The interior courtyard is now a beautiful garden and the covered entrance designed for horse and carriage is a guard house. The security people were kind enough to let me wander around the complex.

In his will he wrote, “I have always felt an impelling desire to accomplish something definite in conferring happiness and relieving distress as conditions permitted me during my life, that I might not defer until after I had passed on an act that might stimulate a heart with joy, bring a smile to a tear worn face, help a struggling student or extend a helping hand to those afflicted with disease, for an opportunity passed to do good is lost forever. I strove to remember my friends while living and to share their joys; I endowed hospital beds to assist those whose needs were immediate. To the extent of my abilities I encouraged all civic enterprises and encouraged the extension of educational facilities to students who were self-supporting.”

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus

(The Scottish Home picnic will be held on August 6, 2011, 10:00-4:00 p.m. We plan to have the Museum open from 10-2 p.m. The Museum will be a cool place to sit and relax.)

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