Charlie's piping career began with the Boys' Brigade in
Glasgow. With the advent of World War II, he became a piper
in the Highland Light Infantry. His brother, Jimmy, joined
the Royal Navy and when Jimmy made the move to the United
States, Charlie followed. Jimmy was the Pipe Major of the
Seattle Pipe Band and after Jimmy passed away, Bill Guthrie
assumed that position. When Bill stepped down from the role
of Pipe Major, the band nearly fell apart.
As with so many other things, Charlie kept the band going
and stepped into the Pipe Major position. The band wore
the MacKenzie tartan and full dress uniforms, including
a feather bonnet with a green plume (the green plume being
the distinction of the Highland Light Infantry). Charlie
also takes credit for bringing new life to the Tacoma Highland
Games when it was in danger of failing, and subsequently
turned it into one of the most friendly and enjoyable games
held in the Northwest.
Charlie also revived the Seattle Piping Society
when it was about to fold, and kept it going for many years.
*The Seattle Piping
Society went on to become our Washington Pipers' Association,
continuing the tradition of an organized piping community
in Seattle that Charlie helped to build and cared for so
much. Last year, to honor his many contributions, the WPA
presented Charlie with a plaque for his outstanding service.
In 1995 Charlie realized a lifelong dream with the founding
of the Northwest Junior Pipe Band. This was the beginning
of a viable and ever-improving group of junior musicians.
The band completed a very successful 1999 season, performing
and competing at several Scottish highland games in the
Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Junior Pipe Band has
since announced plans to compete at the World Pipe Band
Championships in 2008.
Dedicated to the end, Charlie more recently stepped in
to help rejuvenate the Shorecrest High School Pipe Band.
His no-nonsense attitude and unflagging expectation of hard
work had many students sitting up straight and taking note.
He will be surely missed by these young students who knew
him for only a short time.
Though Charlie has always kept a low profile and avoided
drawing attention to himself, his humility, matched with
an unforgiving teaching style and pure Glasgow piping, were
all old-school. Charlie taught hundreds of pipers through
the years and there isn't a piper or drummer in the Northwest
who hasn't benefited in some way from his efforts.
Thank you, Charlie, for your devotion to the youth of Seattle,
Scottish heritage, and our future. You were an outstanding
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