WARM tributes have been paid to the last chief executive of the former Inverclyde District Council after he died at the age of 89.

Robert McPherson passed away after a short but brave battle against motor neurone disease.

Greenock Telegraph:

The much-loved husband, father and grandfather started as a trainee accountant with Port Glasgow Burgh in the 1950s, rising through the ranks to get the top job with IDC in 1992.

Former councillor Allan Robertson served as provost when Robert was chief executive and said that he made a 'huge contribution to Inverclyde'.

Allan said: "Even in those days money was very tight, and Robert always devised innovative ways to secure funding for the council to fund projects such as the Waterfront Leisure Complex and the cinema.

"The council couldn't get an operator to build a cinema, so Robert got the money to build one and leased it back to the operator.

"He refurbished Greenock town centre in 1994, which was a nice town centre then, and he secured funding for The Tall Ships Race in 1999. Even though it happened two years after he retired, it had been in the planning two years before that.

"He was an exceptional and committed council officer, who cared deeply about Inverclyde and its people."

As well as devoting himself to public service for more than 40 years, Robert was very much a family man and lived for his wife, three daughters and four grandchildren Adam, 16, Sophie, 13, Phoebe, 12, and seven-year-old Andrew.

Robert was Port Glasgow born and bred, brought up in Parkhill and attending Clune Park Primary and Port Glasgow High.

After leaving school at 15 he worked in the shipyards before moving to the Chamberlain's office for Port Glasgow Burgh and studied accountancy.

He qualified with an accountancy degree in the 1950s and after National Service in the RAF he returned to work as an accountant in the Chamberlain's office and was then appointed as Town Chamberlain for Port Glasgow, the chief officer responsible for finance.

At re-organisation in 1972, he became director of finance for Inverclyde District and then chief executive in 1992, before retiring in 1996.

He was happily married to Joyce for 55 years after the pair tied the knot at Clune Park Church in Port Glasgow in 1968.

They found their forever home in Barr's Brae and brought up their three daughters there.

They were blessed with, Ruth, who tragically passed away in November 2021 aged 51 after a fight against cancer, Fiona and Kirsty.

Fiona said: "Dad was very patient and supportive of everything we did and encouraged us to be anything we wanted to be. We couldn't have had a better dad.

"He was a quiet man, he wasn't one for small talk, he was selfless and humble. 

"He was very much a family man and a big champion of his home town.

"He was so proud of Inverclyde and making it a better place and believed if you worked in Inverclyde you should live there and work together towards the same vision of how it should be developed."

Fiona remembers happy childhood holidays at their parents' caravan in Dornoch and her parents later enjoyed holidays in Florida.

After he retired Robert joined the board of Parklea Branching Out and became its chair. He was also treasurer at St Martin's Church and enjoyed several pursuits and hobbies.

Fiona said: "He loved boats, took flying lessons and enjoyed curling and hockey. Dad was very active and loved gardening too.

"He was always thinking of other people and was very modest. If anyone asked what he did, he would say he worked for the council, he didn't say what his job was."

Sharon Gemmell, of Parklea Branching Out, said: "Robert joined the board at Parklea in the early years of the charity and brought along his years of experience from working in our local authority and finance.  

"After retiring he became a full time board member and chairman in 2003. We couldn’t have achieved what we do here at Branching Out without the support of a committed, passionate and professional board and Robert gave us this.

"Robert was passionate about his local community and we felt this working alongside him. He was a gentleman and it was a privilege to work alongside him. We will miss him here."