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Caithness Field Club Bulletin
Jack Saxon 1924 – 2005 An Obituary
Jack Saxon was a founder member of Caithness Field Club, a former committee member and Bulletin Editor.
Jack was born in Burnley, Lancashire, grew up during the second world war and a few years after moved with his wife Jean and young family to Belfast where he was a writer and technical illustrator at Short Brothers aircraft factory. During his time there he developed and expanded the talents that marked him out. He gained a good knowledge of rocks, fossils and landscape. He trained in art and sculpture, eventually homing in on water colour as his main medium of expression. He also had a flair for languages and was able to translate complex technical documents from a surprising range of sources.
The family moved to Thurso in 1959 for a job at Dounreay as an information scientist and technical author.
Jack was one of the small group that proposed that the Caithness Field Club should be founded. It was 1966, the centenary of the death of Robert Dick – geologist and botanist. The anniversary triggered discussions and a public meeting. He was a life long member and in 1974 was elected to be an Honorary Vice-President.
In the same year Jack began to look at the Dick collection of fossils in the public museum in Thurso and began to improve it, to the extent that he became honorary curator of the museum for several years. With a task like that all Jacks talents came to bear – illustrations, accurate facts, good writing, imaginative layout, import of fresh ideas from elsewhere, enthusiasm and drive.
Jack served as editor of the Field Club Bulletin from 1990 until 1994. This was immediately heralded by the innovations of a picture on the front cover, and an Editorial.
During these years Jack was building up his knowledge and reputation on the fossil fishes of the Old Red Sandstone and he became a widely known and consulted expert on this subject. His book “The Fossil Fishes of Caithness” was later expanded to “The Fossil Fishes of North Scotland”. He had a large collection of fossils and gave specimens generously to others. He was frequently consulted by the specialists and developed a world wide network of friends and colleagues in the subject of geology.
His writings in the Bulletin show a wide range of interests. In addition to extensive coverage of fossils and rocks, he wrote on Viking history, on castles and brochs – and he made models sketches and paintings of many castles and brochs – on dolphins, Australia, Mongolia and Jurassic Park.
He leaves unpublished a fine work on fossil fishes that would undoubtedly be a reference work for many years to come if a way to publish it could be arranged. It would be a good way to remember this admirable man.