A highly respected teacher, educationalist and trade unionist, Thomas Patrick Birnie (Tom) Devaney died suddenly, aged 83, on Sunday April 11 at his home in Dundee.
A Dundonian with a passion for his city, he was born in St Matthew Street off Broughty Ferry Road in 1937.
His parents were of Irish descent and he was proud of that heritage.
The third of four children, Tom attended St Patrick’s Primary and Lawside Academy before entering St Andrews University where he graduated MA (Hons).
He was first employed as an executive officer in the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance but realised that this was not the career path for him and returned to his studies, gaining a Diploma in Education in 1961.
Education, in particular its history and philosophy, greatly interested him. His first teaching appointment was at St John’s High School, the start of a long and highly distinguished career in education.
While at St John’s he completed a post graduate degree in 1964. He moved to further education in 1967, teaching history and economic history at Kirkcaldy Technical College before returning to his home town as principal teacher of history at Lawside Academy in 1970.
In 1978, a further promotion followed to assistant rector at the recently opened Monifieth High School where he remained until he retired in September 1994.
That same year he was awarded an FEIS (Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland) in recognition of his significant contribution to the development of education in Scotland and of the EIS itself.
Earlier, in 1991-92, he had been elected national president of the EIS and completed a distinguished term in that capacity.
Tom had joined the EIS at an early stage of his career and that was the start of an involvement that was to be a defining characteristic of his working life.
A passion for social justice and for improving the quality of teaching through enhanced professional development drove him to be an activist in the EIS at school and local level.
He would go on to be a key figure in the leadership of the EIS at regional and national level and become instrumental in moving the EIS to become a genuine trade union and a pro-active agent for the teaching profession.
The qualities which made Tom an effective teacher: his communication skills, wit, intelligence, compassion and unfailing courtesy also served him well on a broader canvas.
Tom was a strategic thinker, had an eye for detail as well as principle and was a fine debater which made him an effective contributor on many platforms.
In addition to his term as national president of the EIS, he was also convener of the law and tenure committee which looked after the legal affairs of Scottish teachers and was a long-term member of the EIS national executive.
His interest in the curriculum and assessment led him to serve on the Scottish Exam Board where he further promoted the teaching of history in Scottish Schools.
At a local level Tom served as teacher representative on Tayside Regional Council education committee (1982-1994) and was chairman of the board of governors of the Dundee Educational Trust.
In the late 1970s, through his local EIS involvement, he met Kirsty, also a teacher and they went on to form a lifelong bond, marrying in 1979.
They were joined by a daughter, Catherine in 1981 to complete a family with John and Josie, Kirsty’s earlier children.
Tom derived great pleasure from his family life and in supporting his children through successful careers of their own; a source of considerable pride to him.
After his retirement Tom continued his contribution to civic life through being a member of the Employment Tribunals Service (1994-2007); as a member of the board of Servite Housing Association and as a committee member of Dundee Civic Trust.
He was a regular contributor to Civic Trust publications to which he brought a great depth of local historical knowledge and a fine appreciation of architecture and social policy.
Tom Devaney also had a life beyond education, work and community service. He had a keen interest in sport, especially football and golf.
A talented footballer, he played well into his 30s for several teams including Monifieth Tayside, Grove FP, Lawside FP and Parkhead Juveniles.
A keen student of golf, golfing literature and psychology, he played at a good level at Broughty, Downfield and St Andrews Golf Clubs. He was still playing as recently as the week of his passing. In earlier days he was a keen ice skater and ice hockey player.
A Devaney family spokesperson said: “It is a remarkable person who can be radical and measured, dispassionate and humane in a single breath. Tom Devaney was all these and much more. He will be sorely missed.”
Tom is survived by his sister, Liz, his wife, Kirsty, their children John, Josie, Catherine and grandchildren Truman, Jessica and Sylvie.