Minnie Caseby


CASEBY (nee MACFARLANE), Williamina, died peacefully after a brief illness, aged 101 years, on 23/09/2002, at about 1-25 p.m., at Clashfarquhar House, Church of Scotland Residential Home, Stonehaven where she had been lovingly cared for since March 1996 by the dedicated staff and the local GPs.

Williamina, daughter of Charles Macfarlane and Jemima Smith Raitt, was born on 26/05/1901 at Drumyellow Farm, Loanmouth, Carmylie, Forfar, as the fourth of their five children. She was married to Alexander Caseby by the Rt. Rev. Robert Laws, at Livingstonia, Malawi, on 30/04/1924. Her passing will be long mourned by Sandy, Grant, Cyril, and Ronnie, the surviving four of her six children. Her 13 grand-children, 20 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren will also sadly miss their loving Granny. Minnie, as she was known affectionately to her closest friends, will never be forgotten by all privileged to have known her because of her practical faith, kindness, indomitable courage and infectious laughter.

Minnie brought into her marriage a strong and sound United Free Church faith which she learned from her parents, as well as a forthright personal belief in the overwhelming love of God for all mankind and in the following of Christ's example of caring for the less fortunate. She also brought into her marriage practical housekeeping and country wisdom taught to her by her mother, animal husbandry and gardening techniques learned from her father, plus a sense of humour and fun, and a love for country music and dancing, from them both. To Minnie's list of blessings can be added dressmaking skills acquired by a long Apprenticeship in Forfar and Cupar and natural organising, communicating, directing and leadership talents.

As if this abundance of abilities was not enough Minnie had a love of, and a great capacity for, selfless hard work focussed firstly on her family and secondly on the wellbeing of others. Minnie gave to her children 100% love and attention and was proud of each of them for their achievements, as if each was the only child she had. She shared and deeply felt every one of her family's bereavements, grief's, hurts, illness and disappointments as if they where her own and utilized every spare moment in her life to lift everyone she loved before God in prayer.

Together Minnie and Sandy made for a formidable, productive and successful partnership, and a marriage dedicated to God's greater glory, in everything they attempted. This was achieved without failing to keep the Christian upbringing, instruction, education, and welfare of their extended family as their dearest, most sacred and constant priority.

Minnie's gifts were all put to good use when she assisted Sandy with the woman's practical educational part of his Missionary Work in Livingstonia, Malawi, from 1924 to 1929. She was also proficient and tireless nurse to her husband for most of his life after he was invalided from Africa in 1929 with Cerebral Malaria. In those days such a repatriation and diagnosis was akin to an imminent death sentence. Minnie had been given a similar death sentence by her doctors in 1914 after Rheumatic Fever had weakened her heart. She survived and so she had ongoing good cause to question, and enough faith to reject, all future morbid medical predictions made concerning her loved ones. Sandy was soon on the mend, due to Minnie's sure and certain inward faith, continual deep spiritual strength, prolonged loving care, cheerful encouragement and delicious cooking and baking. With her help Sandy worked as a Home Missionary to earn a living and in his spare time studied for and became an Ordained Minister of the Church of Scotland in 1947, to which they both continued to give sacrificial and sterling service for the remainder of their lives.

Minnie and Sandy's Church of Scotland's Missionary and Ministry works were located in Lundin Links, Fife (1929 to 1933), Newmills, Fife, (1933 to 1947), Blackridge, West Lothian (1947 to 1954), Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, (1954 to 1959), and Carlops, Mid Lothian (1959 to 1965). Together they comforted unhappy parishioners in times of disaster, epidemics, misfortunes and illnesses, and rejoiced in their good times.

For example; in WW2 Minnie was the driving force behind the Newmills Church Canteen that catered for the needs of soldiers from all the Services. Minnie always led the Women's Guild in fund raising. Minnie and Sandy were attracted to serve Churches that were poor in membership, run down in fabric and lacking in funds. They liked a challenge. Likewise, the various Manses were usually in a dilapidated state. Together Minnie and Sandy brought new and vibrant life into those Church communities and restored comfort and beauty to the buildings through the application of their many skills. All of this hard work was dedicated to, and for, the greater glory of God, and to the furtherance of His Kingdom upon earth.

Sandy and Minnie's active and happy retirement were first spent in Balhouffie Farm House, Anstruther (1965 to 1976), and at 4, Macduff Road, Glenrothes, Fife, or "Nyasa" as they fondly renamed it. "Nyasa" was the first house they bought when they were both aged over 70. This purchase was made possible due mainly to Minnie's careful lifetime of sound financial management and to financial support from the Church of Scotland by way of a low interest loan. They were happy together and content living in "Nyasa" until Sandy's sudden death in May 1991, aged 93.

As a lasting memorial to her beloved "Sandy", Minnie had Ronnie, her youngest son, complete Sandy's biography and have it published in October 1993 under the title "Going with God". Later, and as a more specific tribute, she asked Ronnie to arranged for the gifting of 300 copies of the biography to Church Museums, Theological Colleges, Libraries and the National Archives in Malawi. Also to have the books officially presented in Blantyre, Malawi, by the British Ambassador on her behalf to the Moderator of the General Assembly of Malawi's Presbyterian Church.

Minnie remained at "Nyasa" Glenrothes until February 1995 when she accepted that she could no longer care adequately for herself. Still ruggedly independent she refused offers of home sharing with members of her family. Instead, Minnie chose to enter a Retirement Home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in March 1995 which was then owned and run by one of her army of cousins. This home was close to where Sandy had been cremated and had his ashes scattered, convenient for her son Cyril and his wife Gladys to visit her from Edinburgh and near to her only remaining and younger widowed sister, Mrs. Meg Wallace, who lived in Balcurvie until she died in June 1995, aged 91. On Cyril's retirement, and house movement from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, Minnie agreed to move to the Church of Scotland run Clashfarquhar House in Stonehaven in March 1996. This also meant that her eldest child and only daughter Mrs. Margaret Hansford, and Charlie her fourth son, who already lived in Aberdeen could visit her more frequently until their untimely deaths due to cancers in July 2002 and June 1998 respectively.

Friends from outside the family were usually amazed at Minnie's regular output of handcrafted items throughout her life, for her fingers and needles were seldom idle. Such creative activity continued until the age of 98. After this time gradual sight deterioration and joint arthritis, especially in her fingers, almost stopped her from knitting, sewing, and crocheting useful items, such as blankets and soft toys, to the high standards she always demanded from herself. For example she made over 400 colourful blankets which were sent to the less fortunate throughout the world with many going to needy people in her beloved Malawi. Such physical deterioration was to Minnie a daily challenge to her lifelong faith, a cruel test of her natural patience, also to her intensely independent spirit and of her active intellect. She disliked not being in control of events affecting her daily routine. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that Minnie became increasingly disgruntled and frustrated with her increasing and unaccustomed inactive lifestyle, nor that latterly she sometimes reacted to events and people uncharacteristically.

Latterly, having outlived all her related contemporaries, Minnie longed to be in heaven with her beloved husband Sandy, daughter Margaret, son Charlie, and all her dear ones who had gone to their reward. God in His infinite mercy has granted her dearest last prayer.


Ronald R. CASEBY, Chichester, WS, England, UK. PO19 5DN
Genealogy: KFHS No. 6796, Internet site URLs;
His Biography: http://www.embangweni.com/going.htm