Tributes have been paid to a former university lecturer who has died after suffering from cancer.
Professor David Lessels taught law at Aberdeen University and was so popular that his colleagues named an award after him, which is given to students making a contribution to the law school.
He was named an honorary professor by colleagues, and students went into his final lecture en masse to applaud him before he was piped out and given a guard of honour.
After saying a last “goodbye” to the university in 2013, the dad-of-three moved to East Lothian with his wife of 45 years, Sue, and enjoyed travelling and rounds of golf.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 months ago and died aged 69 on December 28 after undergoing extensive treatments. He passed his last few days in St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh.
Sue said: “David had a great sense of humour and was very witty.
“‘He was a most self-effacing man who cared deeply about others. He will be sadly missed by many people.
“David would always remember his students’ names and faces. We would often be out and students would say ‘hello’ and they would strike up a conversation. He cared about the progress of all his students.”
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David graduated from Dundee University in 1971 and went on to study criminology at Hull University before taking up his post in Aberdeen in 1973.
Dr Greg Gordon, head of the university’s law school, said: “David spent 40 years as a lecturer and senior lecturer within the law school. Upon retirement, he was appointed an honorary professor – a tribute which was as popular as it was richly deserved.”
David was a schools liaison for the university, admissions officer for the university’s law school and Erasmus co-ordinator, helping students from Aberdeen study abroad and vice versa.
He spoke fluent French and visited France representing the university.
Dr Gordon said: “David was willing to put in the hard yards of repeatedly visiting our partner institutions to ensure the exchange was working satisfactorily.
“He would say ‘it’s a dirty job,’ with his eye twinkling, ‘but someone has to do it’.”
Dr Gordon described David as an “extraordinarily popular” staff member who was an “inspirational” teacher.
“Few people have been piped out of their final lecture to a guard of honour made up of their appreciative colleagues, but then very few people exercised dominion over the lecture theatre in the way David did,” said Dr Gordon.
He added: “He was, quite simply, a master of the lecture. His delivery was dramatic, but this was no case of style over substance.
“He expected his students to be prepared and on time, and woe betide the hapless fresher who disappointed him.”
Sue thanked staff at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and at the hospice for helping David. David also leaves children Ellie, 39, Tom, 36 and Andrew, 34, and grandchildren Finn, 3, Maggie, 2, Lena, 1, and five-and-a-half month old Albie.
His funeral will take place at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh at 3pm next Monday.