A FORMER sub-editor and motoring correspondent at the Evening Times newspaper in Glasgow has died, following a short illness.
Stu McNee was aged 62. He died at home.
Writes Ian Bruce, former defence correspondent at sister paper, The Herald: “His ‘Sunday name’ was Robert, but everyone knew him as ‘Stu’. He had an infectious laugh and an outrageous sense of fun which could never be suppressed. no matter how bad things might be.
“Born and raised in Shawlands, Stu McNee was a lifelong fan of [football club] Pollok Juniors, the team he always referred to as either ‘The Southside Brazilians’ or ‘The Mighty ‘Lok’. One of his great delights was dragging colleagues along to their games of a Saturday and trying to wean them away from their usual SPL tribal loyalties.
“He joined the Evening Times as a sub-editor in 1968, remaining with the paper until he chose to take early retirement two years ago.
“During that time, he was also the Times’ motoring correspondent, a role which took him all over the world, testing cars.
“On one famous occasion in the early 1980s, he found himself in the USA, with a contingent of his fellow motoring hacks. He consulted a map and realised that the party was “only” 400 miles from Glasgow, Kentucky.
“Stu then persuaded the entire group, including Fleet Street colleagues, to make the trip to his home city’s namesake in the Deep South, arguing that it was an once-in-a-lifetime’s opportunity to visit the birthplace of Kentucky bourbon.
“They duly drove, from dawn ’til dusk, down country roads and arrived in the ‘other Glasgow’ after nightfall, tired and very thirsty, only to discover that, although the bourbon was distilled there, Glasgow was a completely dry city. The nearest bar serving alcohol was in the next county, another 70 miles away.
“With a lynch-mob forming, Stu laughed it off and predictably ended up with everyone laughing along with him. He later described the incident with typical understatement as ‘maybe not one of my better ideas’.
“On another occasion, he drove north, to Bridge of Orchy, on a stormy Sunday night on a hunch to rescue three of us who had been out hillwalking. It had rained steadily for four days, and in the breaks between driving rain showers, it had snowed.
“We were soaked and exhausted by the time we struggled into the local hotel to find McNee waiting to offer us good-natured abuse and a more than welcome llft back home. He knew we were out, figured out our route, and guessed instinctively that we would head there for shelter when we came out of the hills.
“We treated him to a meal for his kindness and he promptly reduced the entire dining room to tears of laughter by pointing to a trophy deer head peering down dustily from one wall and remarking loudly that the beast must have been running at a hell of a speed when it hit the the outside of the building’ to end up like that.
“He loved people and his generosity extended to quietly mentoring several generations of young sub-editors engaged in cutting their teeth in the unforgiving world of an evening paper against tight deadlines. In a parallel universe, he might have made a superb teacher.
“As it was, he collected friends with casual ease. His circle at the Boswell Country Club, a howf he could see from his living room window in Mansionhouse Road, included everyone from firefighters to a Chinese barmaid, all of whom he would have in tow on an always-memorable annual outing, Doon the Watter to Rothesay, on the paddle steamer, Waverley.
“In retirement, he had also taking to exploring his native city by the novel expedient of picking a bus route every few days and then walking it to see parts of Glasgow he had never had reason to visit.
“Typically, when he took ill a few months ago and was rushed into the Victoria Infirmary for tests, he told no one – not even his elder brother, Chris – that he had been admitted to hospital, because he didn’t want anyone to worry.
“When he was finally tracked down and friends began to visit, that ward became a markedly livelier and more laughter-filled place.
“In his time, Stu also held a number of elected posts in the National Union of Journalists, a course of action which tends not to be career-enhancing in newspapers, representing his colleagues in negotiations and generally looking out for their well-being.
“It is a measure of how much he was liked that messages of sympathy and tributes came in from as far afield as New York and France when news of his untimely death broke.
“He will be missed by all who had the privilege to know him as friend and colleague.”