A huge crowd said farewell to Ronnie Steele at St Michael’s Church on Thursday, October 25.
A well-known face around Crieff and beyond, Ronnie passed away peacefully at Crieff Hospital on October 17 in his 92nd year.
Ronnie came to the Strath in 1938 when he arrived at Abercairney Estate as a kennel boy.
He met his wife-to-be there, Mary Bruce, despite the head keeper warning the young man to keep away from “the house down the road with all the lasses,” referring to the family home Mary shared with her five sisters.
Ronnie joined the RAF in 1940, as did Molly, his sister. But while Molly served in England , Ronnie was posted to India and Burma, where he was a supply driver travelling back and forth to the front.
Mary Bruce remained his sweetheart throughout the war years and they were married at Broich Terrace Manse in 1945.
On demobbing, Ronnie went back to Abercairney Estate as underkeeper and went on to work at Ochtertyre, Aberfeldy and Glen Turret in a job he loved.
A fun-loving man, Ronnie had many a tale to tell about the practical jokes the keepers would play on each other. He was passionate about his work and knew every inch of the Glen Turret mountains and surrounding area.
It was a big disappointment to him, aged 51, when ill-health forced him to give up working on the hills. However, he never really retired from the gamekeeping business and was still involved in the shooting scene up till last year.
Ronnie was also adevoted family manand delighted in taking Mary and his children, Malcolm and Susan, fishing at Loch Monzievaird, picnicking in the hills with other local families or to see a den of fox cubs at Locherlour.
Malcolm was born in 1947 at East Glen Turret at the far end of the loch, an area that is now submerged.
It is difficult to imagine how Ronnie and Mary managed the harsh winters of that time with a new baby.
They were snowed in from February to April but hardy Ronnie, along with head keeper Will Lindsay, would walk the seven miles to Crieff for supplies, taking the horse as far as they could through the snow drifts before slapping him on the backside to make his own way home through the tunnel of snow.
Ronnie was a keen piper and a founding member of Strathearn Pipe Band.
He was also a good footballer, playing in goal for the RAF team in India during the war.
He was a member of Strathearn Rifle Club and was still a good shot into his 90s. A great claypigeon shooter, he used to compete at many events at the weekends in his younger days.
Ronnie will be greatly missed around Crieff and in the gamekeeping community. He always had a good tale to tell that would bring a smile to your face.
Ronnie is survived by his son Malcolm, daughter Susan, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.