Public Service – Ronald Waterson Low

Ronald Waterson Low – Pilot, GP & the original inspiration for Scottish icon Oor Wullie

Ronald Watterston Duncan Low, was born on the 21st April 1927 in Dundee Scotland.

He lived in Dundee with his parents going to Dundee High School, graduating from school in 1943 and then going to St Andrews University to study medicine. He would eventually grew up to become an Air Force Squadron Leader and hospital surgeon, but it was as a fresh faced 8 year old that he was to make his name and take his place in Scotland’s literary history.

His father, RD Low, worked for publisher DC Thomson, where he was head of the children’s publications department during a time of huge success for DC Thomson. He was a driving and creative force who masterminded many of Britain’s most popular and best loved story papers and comics including The Dandy and The Beano. One day young Ron strolled into his Dad’s office to find out when he would be home for tea. At the time, staff at the DC Thomson headquarters were struggling for inspiration for a new character, when in walked Ron, scruffy hair, dressed in dungarees, clutching a bucket of potatoes.

Dudley D Watkins, the creator of Oor Wullie and his comic stable mates “The Broons”, immediately set about sketching him sitting on the upturned bucket. The iconic image, drawn in 1935, defined the character who has remained unchanged ever since. Ron was not the only member of his family to be immortalised in print, his sister Marion was the model for “Bunty” – the lead character in DC Thomson’s girl’s comic of the same name.

Ron always had a love of flying and planes and was a member of the local Air Cadets and University Flying Club. He met his future wife Elsie Sturrock of Whigstreet, Angus at St Andrews University and they married in April 1952 before he embarked on a successful career as a GP in Lochinver before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) where he trained as a pilot at RCAF Gimli in Manitoba, Canada and flew jet aircraft, eventually becoming a Squadron Leader.

Although he downplayed his obviously famous association Ron did have many of the traits made famous by the tousle haired laddie. He loved Scotland and even after living his dream of being a doctor and a RCAF pilot, he returned to work in Raigmore Hospital in Inverness in 1977 as Chief of Occupational Health. This move back to Scotland allowed him to travel around the Highlands and Islands which was where he loved it the most.

His first wife passed away in 1985, and Ron also retired at this time. He moved to Helensburgh in 1989 and was remarried to Mary Dutch who also studied at St. Andrews in the late forties and was also recently widowed. Both fully retired, they spent their subsequent years travelling and visiting family together.

Sadly Ron Low succumbed to cancer and passed away February 10th 1992 in Helensburgh.

All images Copyright Ronald William Robert Low

Other Heroes