February 12, 2018
John (Jack) Slorach
NHS community dental surgeon’s sister delivered President John F Kennedy’s son
The Slorachs were one of the most accomplished families in Dumbarton, not least because one of them, Dr Charles Slorach, was the Medical Officer of Health for the Royal Burgh.
Dr Slorach was an inspiring leader in the post-war battle to rid the town of the curse of infant mortality – its figures were the worst in Scotland at one point – and turn back diseases such as tuberculosis and other lung complaints.
Poor health caused by poverty was widespread in the shipbuilding community, which was afflicted by the appalling conditions families were forced to live in.
These were dark, Dickensian, 19th century-built slums, single ends and condemned tenement flats in Dennystown, Burnside and College Street, which the Town Council demolished and replaced with new estates which are still with us today – Brucehill, Bellsmyre, Gibson Street, Eastfield, Castlehill and Westcliff.
Dr Slorach’s sisters, Fanny and Annie, were two of the best known primary school teachers in the town and his brothers, Stanley and Willie, were also educators of young people in schools in deprived areas.
One of the family’s most remarkable achievements however has recently emerged in the obituary of Dr Slorach’s son, Jack, who has died, aged 86, in Migdale Hospital, Bonar Bridge, Golspie, Sutherland.
Jack’s sister, Joan, was one of the midwives in attendance to Jacqueline Kennedy when John Jr was born to her and the US President elect in 1960.
John Jr will be forever remembered as the small boy who stood at his widowed mother’s side and saluted as the cortege carrying the assassinated President Kennedy’s coffin to Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.
A tribute to Jack Slorach in the Northern Times of February 8 said he died on December 13. He was the NHS community dental surgeon for Sutherland, the biggest practice area in the UK. He used to tow his mobile clinic by Land Rover to treat patients in remote west coast villages and hamlets.
He covered the whole of the sparsely-populated county, an area of more than 2000 square miles, treating school children, mothers-to-be and, latterly, old age pensioners who lived on mountainsides and the edge of sea lochs.
Jack was the second born in the Slorach family of six to Dr Slorach and his wife Mary, whose sea captain father was the harbour master at Bombay (now Mumbai) at a time when it was known as the Gateway to India and one of the key ports in the British Empire.
His older brother, Cameron, was a GP in East Kilbride and Josephine, another of the sisters, was married to a Glasgow GP who served in the Australian outback with that country’s Flying Doctor service.
Jack Slorach’s links with the Highlands began when he was sent to Fort Augustus Abbey School where he was educated by Benedictine monks.
He met his wife, Ann, who was originally from Dornoch there and who sadly predeceased him in 2005.
Jack was a keen sportsman who skied regularly in the Cairngorms and played hockey and golf.
The fact that he had a heart by-pass in 1995 and a leg amputated after an illness in 2005 did not keep him off the golf course.
Jack is survived by his daughter, Siobhan, whose husband is a nurse at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.