Harold Morley McIsaac
10th August, 1937 – 28th June, 2014
Harold McIsaac, High Commissioner of Clan Donald New Zealand
On the morning of the 28th of June Harold McIsaac passed away in hospital surrounded by his loving family. Early afternoon his many friends, in the worldwide membership of Clan Donald, received the very sad news. This was completely unexpected. His friends knew he was going to have some tests that the specialist had recommended, but didn’t expect to get such sad news. Condolences and tributes were quick to flow in to the McIsaac family from his many friends, in New Zealand and around the world.
The funeral was held on Wednesday the 3rd of July in the St Andrews Church in Epsom, Auckland. This is the family church of the McIsaacs. Harold grew up in Epsom and attended the church during his childhood and teen years. His parents and eldest son Robert are buried in the churchyard. The weather was a match for the sad occasion. Bitterly cold, with heavy showers and a very cold southwest wind.
The church was packed with around 300 mourners. The Clan Piper, Anton Hodson, playing “Flowers of the Forest,” led the funeral procession into the church. The Pall Bearers were the brothers Andrew and Douglas McIsaac, sons of Harold, Michael and Roger Clifton, and close working associates Tina George and Alison Williams.
During the service the Eulogy was given by Andrew McIsaac, and Tributes by Gavin Parish on behalf of TASC, Clan Donald by Allan MacDonald of Vallay, the Church by Roy San-Garde and the Robert McIsaac Trust by Douglas McIsaac. The service lasted nearly 2 hours as there were so many people wanting to pay tribute to Harold McIsaac.
The Blessing was a reading of the Robert Burns poem “A Man’s a Man for A’ That” by Andrew Wilkie, Past President of Clan Donald Auckland.
The Recessional was led by the Clan Piper Anton Hodson, playing “Amazing Grace” followed by the Sword Bearer Carl Bradley and the Minister Rev. Michael Hughes. The Pall Bearers were made up of Clan Donald members, Bruce McGechan, Allan MacDonald of Vallay, John Hawthorn and Andrew Wilkie with Andrew and Douglas McIsaac making up the six.
At the conclusion of the celebration of Harold’s life everyone enjoyed light refreshments and continued sharing memories. Everyone also had the opportunity to sample some fine single malt whiskies, drinking a “Toast to Harold,” from his extensive collection.
Harold Morley McIsaac
Our Dad had a cheeky sense of humour. With a glint in his eyes, over the years he’d instructed us about a number of different ways he wished to be buried. There was the Viking funeral, pushed out to sea in a burning long boat. On the farm, he’d tell us simply to toss him in the offal pit among the flowers. And then there was the send-off to the 1812 overture version, complete with cannons. So when the time came, suddenly as it did, we weren’t sure what to expect. In the end this service here with all of you was what he wanted, and he’s with us in his full clan regalia, just as you see him on the service sheet. I think everyone knows how organised he was, and this eulogy was written by him.
Harold Morley McIsaac – Born Auckland 10th August 1937
Harold’s father was Richard Harold McIsaac of Scottish descent. The McIsaacs were part of Clan Donald and lived in South Uist. As supporters of Bonnie Prince Charles they were uprooted and forcibly shipped to Prince Edward Island after the failure of the rebellion. His mother was Phyllis Annie Goodman whose parents were from Cornwall, United Kingdom. There is a stained glass window to their memory in this very church, and they are at rest outside, as does our brother Rob.
Harold commenced his education at Normal Primary in Epsom in 1942 when the country was fearful of a Japanese invasion. His first vivid childhood recollection of schooling was the hours sitting in darkness in a school dugout preparing for the bombing which fortunately never happened.
After a year Harold moved to the Model Country School which reopened in the grounds of the Auckland Teachers Training College, then two years at Normal Intermediate before moving to Auckland Grammar 1951-1955. He regarded these five years at Grammar as five of the happiest years of his life. In summer he joined in the lifesaving training and in winter played hockey, and he was vice-captain of the 1st hockey eleven for two years. In 1955 he became a school prefect. At the time compulsory military training was a requisite with each first week of each term being battalion week. Harold enjoyed this military involvement and reached the rank of CSM (Company Sergeant Major). And on a personal note, I remember these particular skills being put to good use when the time came to get 4 reluctant kids out of bed and ready for school.
From an early age he attended Saint Andrews Anglican Church in Epsom. This Church had a large and very active youth group, holding regular dances in the Church hall. These were the times when steely eyed mothers stood guard at every exit to ensure none of the young people slipped out. Harold also involved himself in the Saint Andrews Scout Group ultimately achieving the Queens Scout Award. On turning 18 he became an assistant scout master and completed the Gilwell training to receive his wood beads. On the retirement of Vic. St Clair Harold took over as Scout Master. It was during this time that the Troop attended the Pan Pacific Jamboree held at One Tree Hill. Harold’s troop was made responsible to look after the small Japanese contingent and at the end he was invited by the Japanese Scout Association to visit Japan, this he did attending both the 20th World Jamboree in the Philippines and the 2nd Nippon Jamboree at Lake Biwa.
Phyllis McIsaac died at the end of 1955 and Harold started work in a Chartered Accountants Office. With work from 8.30am to 5.00pm daily, Auckland University lectures in the evening and his involvement in Church and Scouts, life was very busy. On graduating Harold completed his membership of The New Zealand Society of Accountants and also obtained membership of The Chartered Institute of Secretaries, The New Zealand Institute of Management and membership of the NZ Trustees Association.
After his father died in 1959 Harold became the Accountant to Beechey and Underwood, an office equipment company with outlets throughout NZ, and the Group Accountants for Griffiths Holdings which had interests in retailing motor vehicles, property ownership and finance company activities. During this time he courted and married Wendy Lyn Carlisle, the marriage being celebrated at St Andrews on the 8th December 1962.
Harold and Wendy raised four children; Robert, Andrew, Deborah and Douglas, moving to the North Shore and building at Cloverly Crescent in Campbells Bay. During these years Harold renewed his interest in things Japanese, holding the positions of Secretary to the Japan Society of Auckland and the Japan/Auckland Businesses Association. Many consular staff and visitors from Japan were entertained in their home.
Towards the end of 1973 during a routine annual medical it was discovered that Harold had bowel cancer and he was immediately operated on. The surgery was a success but he was left with a lifetime colostomy. The medical advice was to move out of accounting for a less stressful lifestyle. The family moved to Matokohe and then to Te Arai near the Mangawhai Heads where he farmed a 500 acre dry stock unit running 2500 breeding ewes, 50 breeding cows and 80 deer. At this time he reactivated his scouting background becoming Akela for the Mangawahai Cub pack with Wendy as Balu, his assistant cub-leader. The pack was a great success and after the first venture into the district competition they were so far above the competition that Mangawhai were asked to stay away the following year. Year three again they entered with the same result. Harold was voted on to the local School Committee and then elected as Chairman of the committee that organised a highly successful 100 year school celebration. For the four McIsaac children these farming days were the happiest of their childhood.
This happy lifestyle came to a crushing end. The Government changed its farm policies and overnight farm land values crashed. It was no longer an economic proposition so the farm was sold and the family returned to Auckland where Harold joined Chatfield & Co., a small accountancy practice with a staff of eight as the practice manager. The practice grew with staff numbers reaching 26. In 1987 the sharemarket crashed and Harold left the partnership with his team and set up as a sole practitioner practising firstly in Upper Queen Street, then Castor Bay and then at Saturn Place, North Harbour.
Andrew and Douglas boarded at Auckland Boys Grammar at Tibbs House and in his last year Douglas became a school prefect. Harold has always been committed to his Christian faith and in the years following his return to Auckland he reactivated his membership at St Johns Anglican Church in Campbells Bay. All in all he served 18 years on Vestry including 8 years as Vicars Warden.
In 1985 Robert was a passenger in a car accident which left him a tetraplegic. This was a major shock to the family who had no experience of spinal injury. Robert was in the Auckland Spinal Unit for many months and it was discovered that the support offered by the Accident Compensation Corporation was minimal, so Harold joined Robert and a small group of Tetraplegics to form The Tetraplegic Action Support Committee to take a case for support against the ACC using Robert as a test case. Court proceedings dragged on for three years, then ACC tossed in the towel and the court awarded 24 hour care, 7 days a week.
The battle was won but the war was not, as there were no trained caregivers. The TASC committee asked Harold to set up a caregiving agency and TASC also changed its name to The Association For Spinal Concerns and became a Charitable Trust. The caregiving agency very much started from scratch and its first instructor was a self taught lady who had had many years care of her spinal injured husband. Using the amoebic process care teams were set up slowly at first and then more rapidly as more teams were formed then split up. It was a busy life. Harold married Mary Louise Clifton in 1990. He and Mary worked in the accountancy office Monday to Friday and spent weekends travelling the North Island interviewing and signing up clients. At this time Alison Williams and Tina George joined the practice and over the years played a major role in the ongoing expansion. Growth necessitated more space and the business was moved to larger premises in William Pickering Drive, Albany. ACC also asked that coverage be extended to serious head injury clients. With the growth Harold sold 90% of his accounting practice, but the remaining 10% refused to go and stayed with him.
McIsaac Caregiving Agency prospered, however the Accident Compensation Corporation advised all of its contracted providers that their open ended contracts would be cancelled as of April 2012 as they only wanted to deal with six major organisations. They agreed that McIsaac Caregiving was the outstanding provider in the care of spinal and head injury, but they no longer wanted to deal with smaller specialised organisations. ACC suggested that the company subcontract to one of the six but this option was rejected, so after 21 years on the 31st March 2012 the business was sold to Healthcare New Zealand Limited.
Harold’s Trust purchased new premises in Forrest Hill and he, Tina and Alison moved there with his accounting practice under Financial Accounting Services Limited. Apart from a number of accounting clients, the business handled Trusts set up to support spinal injured individuals and provided administrative support to The Robert McIsaac Charitable Trust, The Association for Spinal Concerns and St Johns Anglican Church Property Trust. Harold & Mary financed a youth centre for St. Johns Anglican Church and also paid for a portico to the Church entrance.
Harold had always taken a pride in his Scottish heritage and during this time made 8 trips to Scotland and 3 to Prince Edward Island. He was elected President of Clan Donald Auckland and later appointed the Clan’s High Commissioner for New Zealand, a role he held until his death. Harold took over the editorship and publication of the Clan Donald Auckland newsletter and quickly became recognized as one of the best Clan newsletters internationally.
With his background in Auckland Boys Grammar School and Clan Donald, Harold became Patron of the Grammar Pipe Band, equipping them with his family Tartan – Macdonald of Clanranald. Harold was invited to become a Trustee of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, a 20,000 acre estate at Armadale on the Isle of Skye. He was elected to the Executive Committee and became Deputy Chairman. He involved himself in the instigation and then re-organisation of the way the Trust was managed and organised making numerous grants including contributing to new venison processing facilities and a children’s playground.
In recognition of his outstanding work and dedication in representing and promoting Clan Donald, in May 2014 Harold was presented with the Somerled Certificate signed by all six Chiefs making up the High Council of Clan Donald. He had already been made a life member of Clan Donald Auckland, and on the occasion of the 21st birthday of TASC was also made a life member of that organisation.
That’s the end of Dad’s notes. In closing, my Dad faced many challenges during his life; cancer at an early age, severe injury to and eventual loss of a son, financial hardship and tough times in business, divorce, and ongoing health concerns later in life. He could be cranky! But he faced everything head on, and through it all he never lost his faith, his sense of humour or his concern for those around him.
I have many friends who are now fathers, and they tell me that the very best thing they can be is to be a role model for their sons. My father was a true role model for me. Of all his accomplishments this is the one I am most grateful for.
Andy McIsaac – 2nd July 2014
Robert McIsaac Charitable Trust
It is my privilege to speak about my father and his indomitable creation and passion for the Robert McIsaac Charitable Trust. Please bear with me, for how my brother Andy so aptly described us today “We are very, very, smartly dressed disaster areas”
After being injured in a motor vehicle accident and becoming a tetraplegic, Rob McIsaac turned to Dad to set up a model caregiving service, centric to an injured person’s needs. As a result, McIsaac Caregiving Agency was established in 1991 with Rob being the first client.
You have heard from Gavin about TASC, created by Rob, and for a long, long time supported in many different ways by Dad. Whether it be for financial, emotional, business matters, or straight-out friendship, he was always there for TASC. Having looked after Rob for a period, it was an absolute honor for me to shake my father’s hand whilst presenting him the “Life Membership Certificate”
When our brother Rob passed, we all grieved. Dad, well our little force of nature grieved heavily. So on Robert’s passing, Harold and Mary McIsaac set up the Robert McIsaac Charitable Trust to support people with spinal injuries and had a determined wish to establish respite centres.
This Trust has aided many people. Donations towards vehicles, art supplies, events, education,gardens, accommodations.. are just a few of the areas the Trust has so willingly and happily provided funds towards.
In Dad’s later years, his focus on all things TASC and the Robert McIsaac Trust, became more prevalent. With Dad’s passing, the main purpose of this Trust is to ensure that TASC is kept alive and well, serving the needs of those who so deservedly require it. We promise you dad, with full heart and resolution we will fulfill your wishes.
For 41 years I have known my Dad. They say a leopard cannot change its spots, but in later years I can say this was so very untrue of our Dad. A man who loved us wholly all our lives, but struggled to say the words, would easily gift us this message at every chance.
Dad was a strong man. As many of you know and have heard, he faced many challenges in his life, and he took these on with little fuss or complaint. On his last day with us, he still had the fortitude, to stand alone on his feet with no assistance from us, albeit for a few moments.
Here a few reflections of my Dad,
A man who, when we were little, came home at night in time to say goodnight to us – and snuck us each a comic. To this day I am still a Disney Nut
A man who I am positive went without at times to provide for us
A man who packed up his city family, made us farming folk, and provided us with some of the best times and most treasured memories
A man that worked the land hard, but took time to have a snooze, resting on the side of his favourite pig “Bacon”
A man who could disappear for a day as he mourned the loss of one of our beloved farm pets
A man who would loudly laugh at his children being; pecked by a rooster, scraped off the back of a horse, bunted by an over-zealous bobby calf – but when it was his turn for this treatment, funnily enough that animal was for the chop.
A man who could reinvent himself several times, start from scratch, and ending up being a highly successful business man
A man who would famously carve the Christmas meat, with a one for me (into the mouth), and a one for the rest of the family routine
Let us face the facts. A man who could murder a great joke, or take a one-liner joke, and turn it into a 10 minute saga that you could pop away, make a cup of tea, and return in time for the punch line. But for all of that, dad had a devilishly great sense of humour.
A man who was planning for his next adventure right up to the very last.
But most importantly, a man who was content at where he was in life, and of the successes of his children and extended family. He loved Mary and us all greatly
He leaves a larger than life hole in our lives, but will never, never be forgotten. We love you Dad.
The following are Tributes from Harold’s many friends from around the world.
The High Chief of Clan Donald
Lord Macdonald. The Rt. Hon. Godfrey James Macdonald of Macdonald.
I first met Harold nearly fifteen years ago as we crossed to Islay for the modern inauguration of the High Council of Clan Donald. His strong personality stood out like a beacon, and it was obvious from this very first exchange that here was a man destined to become my High Commissioner in New Zealand.
This destiny was fulfilled, and Harold, following in the footsteps of Donald Webster duly accepted this commission. His exceptional powers of leadership and his unstinting dedication, coupled with an extraordinary ability to communicate, saw Clan Donald in New Zealand arrive at a point never before thought possible. He continued in this role through nearly two three year terms.
Men of the stature of Harold only come rarely, possibly two or three in each generation, and it is incumbent on those of us remaining to ensure that the excellent work done by this man will be continued. This should be his legacy in years to come, and I consider it a real privilege to have counted him among my true friends.
Harold will be sorely missed, not only by his immediate family, but by all of us associated with the great Clan Donald throughout the world. His wisdom and generosity, so freely given, will be remembered and recorded in our history.
Chief of Sleat and Clan Huisdein
Sir Ian Godfrey Bosville Macdonald of Sleat , Bart
There are and will be many tributes to this great son of Clan Donald, a true and loyal Clansman, generous to many and an example of how to live a good life in this troubled and confused world.
Harold, with his financial expertise, stepped and saved the Clan Donald Lands Trust at a critical moment when as Trustee and Vice- Chairman he paid for the accounts to be sorted out and properly regulated. Armadale was dear to his heart and it’s survival and future success for the benefit of generations to come will never be forgotten.
His wise council and unflappability when lesser men were not quite sure how to proceed will be missed. He did not suffer fools though and like all members of Clan Donald, if he had an opinion about something, you were always going to hear it, whether comfortable or not. Thank Heavens for plain speakers !
Mary and his family will always be most welcome at Armadale and I very much hope that it will not be too long before we meet again.
A great and Christian man.
I salute you – farewell dear friend.
Ian Macdonald of Sleat
Lois MacDonell of Glengarry
Harold McIsaac was a giant in Clan Donald, not only with Clan Donald New Zealand, but also with the Clan Donald Lands Trust and the Clan Donald Society of the Highlands and Islands. He helped to set the Society on its feet in 2010, giving it joining leaflets and other financial support, which also gave great encouragement to the group.
Harold was down-to-earth and straightforward, not looking for personal glory, and I feel it was a privilege to have known him and to know his wonderful wife Mary. They entertained me in New Zealand in 2009 and I enjoyed their company greatly.
He was also a person who could give wise counsel and was admired by a great many people. His incisiveness in seeing where some of the fundamental problems were with Clan Donald Skye, was critical to the turning round of the enterprise. He achieved a great deal there.
With great sadness,
Professor Norman N Gillies OBE
On retiring from Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Skye based National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, after twenty-five years at the helm, at the end of 2007, I joined the Clan Donald Lands Trust in January 2008 as Director of Development.
In the three years that I spent at Armadale I very much appreciated the role that Harold McIsaac played as a Trustee. I found him to be humble and unassuming, more interested in the greater good than personal aggrandisement. His quietness and humility disguised a sharp and focussed business brain and a sense of purpose that cut through the unimportant issues and concentrated on the needs of the organisation that he so ably served. He was what would be termed, in the old days, a proper highland gentleman and his conduct certainly displayed the best meaning of that word at all times. He was a model Trustee in that he put his money where his mouth was, and Clan Donald Skye benefitted greatly from his generosity and foresight. He had the advantage of a deep understanding of the cultural context, and his input into the affairs of the Clan Donald Lands Trust will be sorely missed.
“Do dhol a-mach, ‘s do theachd a-steach coimheadaidh Dia a-ghnath” Salm 121 V8
The United States of America
Major Bruce W. Macdonald, Ret’d
Trustee, Clan Donald Lands Trust
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
My wife Rosalyn and I cannot express how shocked and saddened we are by the news of Harold’s passing. Harold had become an important friend of ours, and we so looked forward to spending time with him each June on Skye.
It was always a pleasure to join with Harold on the monthly Executive Committee Skype calls. Harold was an interesting combination of cautiousness and deliberateness. He could see through a complicated situation and focus on the meat of an issue, bringing a laser focus to the conversation. When action was required, Harold took it—often on his own and at his own cost. When patience was in order, Harold would advocate it and we would listen.
Harold was a great man, one I have come not only to respect, but love and admire. His contributions to our collective life in Clan Donald cannot easily be measured. To him goes much of the credit for turning around a potentially disastrous situation at Armadale. He was that rare leader that could see a problem and immediately move to solve it. That leadership, energy, and wisdom will be sorely missed.
I felt a spiritual connection with Harold because he was a man of faith. I recall many opportunities I had to discuss matters of the Lord with Harold. We all should take great comfort that Harold is now in the presence of our Lord and that light perpetual will shine upon him.
Clan Donald Western Australia
It is with deep sadness that I write this tribute to a man who has touched so many lives and in so many different ways. A man who was generous to a fault. A man who when giving did so with deep sincerity. I will never forget his very cheeky sense of humour.
I first met Harold at the Clan Donald Chief’s Tour dinner in Edinburgh 2010. I had the pleasure of chatting with Harold throughout the evening, of course this involved Clan Donald but also the happening of Clan Donald in W.A. Harold was a great support in many ways to our Society here in the West. You have and will always be held in very high esteem by all in Clan Donald WA.
When Harold and Mary so very kindly accepted our invitation to attend our dinner in 2012 it was received with great excitement by our the members of CDWA. The week that Mary and Harold spent with us here in Perth was wonderful. Harold did say it was the best and easiest shopping trips he had with his adorable wife Mary. I led the way and Harold just sat back with Credit Card in hand along with that cheeky look in his eye laughing. The dinners we had and the stories Harold told have left me with memories I will never forget.
In 2013, The Anzac Conference came to be with great thanks to the organization skills of this great man and his P.A. Alison. It was a huge success and was attended by various members of the our Clan from Australia as well as North and South islands of N.Z.
I was fortunate enough to have spent 10 days in May this year with Harold and Mary who I must say are the most gracious hosts. We flew down to Dunedin for the AGM following which we had an amazing time at the dinner which followed. The memories I have of spending such personal time with Harold and Mary will always be so very special to me.
On hearing the saddest news of Harold’s passing I flew to Auckland to not only say farewell to a special friend but to also farewell a man who has become a great friend to Clan Donald Western Australia.
From all at Clan Donald Western Australia
Sweet Dreams our dear friend.
Allan MacDonald of Vallay
2nd July 2014
My name is Allan MacDonald.
Or as Harold often referred to me as, Allan of Vallay.
First of all I would like to pass on my personal condolences to Mary, Andy, Shannon, Debbie, Doug and Pat.
Your loss is our loss.
Harold’s passing has been keenly felt around the world.
As some of you may be aware Harold and Mary were due to be in Scotland at this time. First to attend the Clan Donald Lands Trust AGM on the Isle of Skye, and secondly to attend the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, where many of the Clan Donald’s worldwide dignitaries are assembled.
The sense of shock and sadness on receiving news of Harold’s passing was palpable.
Lord Godfrey Macdonald, Sir Ian Macdonald of Sleat, the Captain of Clanranald and Ranald of Glengarry make up the High Chiefs of Clan Donald. They along with Lois MacDonell of Glengarry, the Board of Trustees of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, The High Commissioners for Clan Donald, USA, Canada, and Australia, along with commissioners from Queensland, New South Wales, Rob Mac and Marion and many others, have specifically asked that I pass on their sincere condolences to Mary and family, following the sudden loss of their friend and colleague Harold.
Like many here today, I first met Harold and Mary through the Clan Donald in Auckland.
They were involved with many of the characters of the time, the late Murdo, the late Donald Webster; Murdock McDonald, Bruce McGechan, Tom McDonald, and Andrew Wilkie along with their respective partners and many others; in attending the various Highland Games around the North Island, and they helped organise many of the marvellous Clan Donald events through the years.
I was immediately drawn to Harold, who had a dry sense of humour, and was obviously an astute reader of people.
We enjoyed many happy times together, not the least being a visit by Clanranald and Lex Brown. This trip not only emptied Harold’s liquor cabinet but several bottle stores around the countryside, and I think almost made Harold’s liver inoperable for several weeks.
Normally one would expect, once bitten twice shy, but Clanranald was welcomed back a second time and stayed longer. I am not sure how Harold’s liver lasted, but according to Clanranald it was a splendid trip!
Several years ago Harold was appointed as High Commissioner to the Clan Donald in New Zealand. Being a very able administrator and with Mary and Alison at his side, Harold led a profound change to the Clan Donald organisation within New Zealand, that was revolutionary and far reaching. In fact Harold helped bring about significant changes in Clan Donald Australia as well as in Clan Donald UK.
Harold also personally helped edit and produce the world class Clan Donald New Zealand newsletter, and latterly the Crosslet in Scotland, with the help of Mark Green.
He also helped to establish new Societies in the Hawke’s Bay and Wellington, as well as several overseas.
Harold was also instrumental in setting up a national body to bring the various Clan Donald Societies together. It was no mean feat getting Southlanders and Cantabrians to sit around the table with a bunch of Jafa’s, but under Harold’s leadership and guidance it actually happened. Harold also helped to organise the first ever Clan Donald trans-tasman conference, which was a great success.
During this time, I managed to convince Harold to join me on the board of the Clan Donald Lands Trust. The Lands Trust administers 20,000 acres on the Isle of Skye, the last vestige of the once vast Clan Donald area of influence.
The Trust was in serious trouble and once Harold was elected, he was fast tracked onto the Executive Committee and then became Vice Chairman. He muttered something about a set up, but thank goodness he accepted the challenge!
Utilising his extraordinary business skills, and those of a very able administrator, set about organising a restructure of the administration of the Trust and ever the generous benefactor, funded several major projects on behalf of the Trust as well.
Harold oversaw, and guided many of the key decisions taken to turn the Trust around, and make it the success it is today. He was truly impressive amongst his peers from all over the world. He was highly respected in everything he undertook on behalf of the Trust.
The Clan Donald community around the world are eternally grateful to him and his family, for all he and they have contributed to the Clan and the Lands Trust over the years.
Harold was very humble and modest about his achievements, and preferred to operate behind the scenes, and as such I cannot tell you about the dozens and dozens of organisations and people Harold and Mary have helped over the years. I can tell you however, how much I admire what they did and achieved together.
Harold often assisted by Mary, was also a great practical joker and liked to have a bit of fun. Mary you will recall the many laughs we had over Harold trying to convince us to Run Donkeys at Puka.
Harold was a gentleman in every respect.
A brilliant businessman.
A family man through and through. I don’t recall seeing Harold looking so proud as the time Andy and Doug joined him on Skye for CDLT gathering.
A dutiful and loving husband, who often referred to Mary as, “Her Ladyship” or “She who must be obeyed.”
A compassionate man and carer of many people.
An absolutely generous man with his time and influence.
Harold was an outstanding leader and a remarkable man.
I feel absolutely privileged to have known Harold for many years now, and had come to count him a close friend, and a mentor.
We have all been blessed to have known and loved him, and while his passing brings great sadness, I am sure Harold will want us to reflect on the many happy times we have all spent with him and Mary, and to learn, to live life, as he lived; to the full, with courage and humility, and to show respect to all you may come into contact with.
God bless you Harold.
High Commissioner Elect for Clan Donald New Zealand
It was with much sadness I learnt of the passing of Harold McIsaac. I only got to know Harold in recent years, mainly as a result of the formation of The Associated Clan Donald Societies of New Zealand. It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to not only work together on Clan Donald matters but to enjoy the pleasure of his company on a number of social occasions.
Harold had a huge passion for Clan Donald. In his role as High Commissioner for Clan Donald in New Zealand he provided a lot of the drive and energy to establish The Associated Clan Donald Societies of New Zealand. This was no easy task but it was one, which Harold put a huge amount of personal effort into. The concept of bringing the Member Societies within the umbrella of a New Zealand association, was not widely supported initially, but through the effort and perseverance of Harold we now enjoy a very strong New Zealand wide organisation. Harold’s quiet determination, coupled with his gentle approach, were key factors in successfully establishing the Associated Clan Donald Societies of New Zealand.
As High Commissioner Harold visited Christchurch on a number of occasions. He willingly mixed with local members at meetings and at social gatherings. As recently as last October, Harold and Mary were visiting the South Island and stayed in Christchurch for two nights. They joined Clan Donald Canterbury’s Country and Western night party, which was a fun occasion and one that Harold and Mary fully participated in. We enjoyed Harold’s company, especially his quiet humour and humility.
Those who were fortunate enough to have a close involvement with Harold, will remember not only the man but the tremendous amount he achieved for his beloved Clan Donald here and overseas.
North Island Commissioner for Clan Donald New Zealand
I first met Harold toward the end of the 1990’s, at an annual dinner for Clan Donald Auckland. Immediately he made a mark by taking responsibility for the production of our newsletter in full glossy colour.
All along Harold was known for his generosity. Toward the end of his Presidency in Auckland he made substantial annual donations in the name of a Trust. This set up a capital fund whose income is a major contributor to the finances of the society. Harold was keen to see the newsletter become a bench-mark production, first as an Auckland production, and later as the mouthpiece of Clan Donald New Zealand. This leadership in printed publications was later extended to overseas Clan Donald groups, and the Clan Donald Lands Trust. The Auckland Grammar Pipe Band now wears Clanranald colours as a direct result of Harold’s sponsorship.
Harold set a high standard when it came to the Highland dress. Having traced his roots to Macdonald of Clanranald in South Uist, he proudly wore the Clanranald tartan. For the sake of practicality in packing for his trips to Scotland Harold took to wearing trews. Harold was a regular attender at highland games, in the Auckland area, and also Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Canterbury. He was instrumental in forming the Hawke’s Bay and Wellington societies of Clan Donald, and also gave practical encouragement to the smaller South Island societies. Harold has actively sought to ensure that quality Clan Donald merchandise is available at the clan pavilion. Harold has had a leading role in managing finances in a thoroughly professional manner. The framework of a constitution for Clan Donald New Zealand is primarily Harold’s work.
With Harold’s encouragement, Mary became active on the Auckland committee and has been a reliable person as our “shop front” at the highland games. Son Doug, and daughter-in-law Pat also followed Harold’s lead by joining the Auckland committee.
Harold has had a most happy knack of getting the best out of his people – not by brute force, but by the persuasion of setting a great example himself. He is sorely missed by all who knew him.
President of Clan Donald New Zealand & President of Clan Donald Wellington.
Harold’s death has come as a complete surprise to us all. Totally unexpected. All who knew him will agree that he was the most generous and sincere person you could meet and be associated with. A true gentleman in every aspect.
I have known Harold for 7 years and he was an inspiration. He was always so positive and had such a great outlook on life. A person to whom many of us looked up to. A friend.
Not only is Harold a huge loss to Clan Donald New Zealand but to Clan Donald Worldwide. He has put an enormous effort into this Clan. More so than many Clan members will ever really realise. His passion was Clan Donald.
My thoughts are with Mary, his wonderful wife, who helped Harold fulfil his passion. Also to his sons and family.
Rest in peace friend.
President of Clan Donald Auckland
On the 18th of August 1998 Harold Morley McIsaac filled out an application form for membership of Clan Donald Auckland. Little did we realise the significance of this application, and what it would mean to not only Clan Donald Auckland but to Clan Donald worldwide.
As in all things, Harold was cautious to start with, but within a few short years he was on the Executive Committee, and by 2002 a Vice President. His office took over the responsibility of the Treasurer, and in 2004 Harold became responsible for the Clan Donald Newsletter with his wife Mary as Editor.
An early indication of Harold’s generosity came during the first visit, in 2002/2003, of Ranald Macdonald, the Captain and Chief of Clanranald and his Chamberlain Lex Brown.
Clanranald also happens to be Harold McIsaac’s Chief, as the McIssac ancestors come from South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, which is Clanranald territory.
Clanranald’s visit coincided with the 150th Anniversary Celebrations of the settlement of Waipu and the 132nd Waipu Highland Games. These celebrations were of particular significance to Clanranald as many of the Waipu settlers of the 1850’s came from western Scotland through Nova Scotia to Waipu.
During the Games Clanranald and Lex were accommodated in one of the top hotels in Whangarei and Harold covered the cost.
Harold also had Clanranald stay with him on his second visit in 2008. Clanranald was the special guest for the 10th anniversary of Clan Donald Auckland. During his visit Clanranald , who was a keen sailor, was hosted by Harold’s PA Alison Williams to lunch at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland, and to visit the Maritime Museum. They also went on a dolphin-watching cruise in the Hauraki Gulf.
On the Saturday I was privileged to host Clanranald to the “Whisky Live” sampling event at the Civic Theatre. We were able to sample from around 150 different whiskies from Scotland. Clanranald, being a whisky connoisseur, was in his element as we enjoyed some wonderful malt whiskies. And that evening the main celebration was the 10th Anniversary Dinner of Clan Donald Auckland, where Clanranald was the Guest Speaker. All these events were made possible through the generosity of Harold McIsaac.
Harold was President of Clan Donald Auckland from 2006 till 2010. And that was an amazing 5 years. He was not only generous financially, underwriting many events and items, but with his time and commitment to growing the society. When he retired from the Presidency, he made sure that Clan Donald Auckland had a firm financial base.
During that time, in 2007, Harold was also appointed, by the Clan Donald High Council, to the position of High Commissioner for New Zealand.
You would think that Harold could now have a rest after he had achieved so much. But no, he then put all his energies and commitment to developing Clan Donald New Zealand. He arranged meetings throughout New Zealand starting in Invercargill and Christchurch, and got the support of all 6 societies to form Clan Donald New Zealand.
He helped start the Clan Donald Wellington Society.
He supported the South Island Commissioner, Elwyn Martin, in his duties looking after the 3 South Island Societies.
Harold was particularly committed to supplying support to the younger people in Clan Donald, by establishing scholarships and sponsorships for their endeavours in Scottish cultural activities, piping, highland dancing, Scottish country dancing and drumming etc.
Harold also supported the Clan Donald Newsletter and Website.
In February 2013, Harold, with the able assistance from Alison Williams, his PA of 14 years, organised the ground breaking ANZAC conference. 50 delegates from throughout Australia and New Zealand met over 2 days at the Spencer on Byron Hotel in Takapuna Auckland.
Harold had an exceptional mind for financial matters and management, and it wasn’t too long before Allan MacDonald of Vallay got him involved with the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale in Skye and the Clan Donald Lands Trust.
Clan Donald New Zealand held it’s 4th AGM in Dunedin in May, and is now in the process of planning for the next 5 years.
Unfortunately Clan Donald will no longer have the help and guidance of Harold McIsaac.
Personally I counted Harold as a close friend. We seemed to develop a procedure at the Auckland Highland Games, the first one of the season. We would stroll around the grounds checking out the other Clans and the various commercial sites, chatting about Clan Donald activities, in New Zealand and overseas. Inevitably we would stop for a coffee and Harold as always, insisted on paying for it.
We also used to chat over the phone on a regular basis, discussing areas of interest for both Clan Donald Auckland and Clan Donald New Zealand.
He seemed to have his ups and downs with his health. At the start of a phone conversation I always asked how he was. He was always very cheerful, stating that he was still breathing in and out, and putting one foot in front of the other.
Even in the last few weeks he was always prepared to help. He and Mary spent the Saturday of Queen’s Birthday weekend helping out in the Clan Donald Pavilion at the Cloud on Queens Wharf for the United Kingdom celebrations. And it was very cold that day.
One week later he presented the Certificate of Appointment to Tom McDonald, the new North Island Commissioner at a special luncheon, and then attended the monthly committee meeting afterwards.
Harold appeared tireless but I now realise that his health was failing.
I will miss him, as I am sure all our Clan Donald people will, both here and overseas.
Rest in peace Harold Morley McIsaac. You have achieved more than most people would have in a dozen lifetimes.
Secretary of Clan Donald Otago
The sudden passing of our High Commissioner Harold McIsaac, came as a real shock to members of the Clan Donald Society in Otago.
It was a few weeks beforehand that we had the pleasure of Harold’s attendance at the AGM of the National Association in Dunedin.
Harold has made a very large contribution to Clan Donald affairs in the time he has been the High Commissioner, and his generosity has extended around New Zealand and particularly in Scotland and the Clan Donald Lands Trust, of which body he was a highly valued member. His business acumen must have been of tremendous value to that Trust, and we are positive that he will be greatly missed.
The members of the Clan Donald Society of Otago extend their heartfelt sympathies to Mary McIsaac and family.
We will certainly miss our association with our friend Harold as High Commissioner.
President of Clan Donald Hawke’s Bay
Like everyone else who knew Harold, I was shocked to learn of his untimely death. From reading the tributes made to his memory, it is obvious that he reached out to many people during his life and made a difference to all of them.
I came to know Harold a few years back when he and some others from the Auckland Clan Donald Society were trying to set up a Branch in Hawkes Bay. A group of interested people was formed in Hawkes Bay and eventually Clan Donald Hawkes Bay came into existence, with much help and support from Auckland. Harold backed the new organisation to the hilt, visiting Hawkes Bay in person on more than one occasion to provide encouragement and help, and even providing some initial funding to start things off. I know that he was always proud of the new off-shoot he had helped to bring into the world and Clan Donald Hawkes Bay always regarded him with a good deal of respect and affection, and was delighted to receive him whenever he was able to visit.
Harold’s attachment to his Highland Scottish ancestry was deeply rooted, uncompromising, and unapologetic. To those of us with similar feelings about our Scottish lineage, he was very supportive and very interesting to talk to, having a wide breadth of historical knowledge and understanding of the “diaspora” that brought to an end the old Highland society and scattered its descendants across the face of the earth.
My last memory of Harold comes from the national AGM in Dunedin not long ago in May 2014. As we listened to the excellent piping of Dr Warwick Johnson, Harold said to me that one of his great regrets was never having learned to play the pipes. He recounted that, while still a teenager, he decided that he would become a piper and told his father. His father’s response was “Congratulations on your decision. Now when are you leaving home?” The plan to learn to play the pipes came to an abrupt end!
While we will continue to miss Harold for many years to come, it is comforting to know that the foundations he played such a big part in laying will support Clan Donald as it continues to grow.
From Hawkes Bay, we extend our condolences and best wishes to Mary and to Harold’s other family members.
Diane Hendrickson Winder
Chaplain of Clan Donald Auckland
A Tribute to a Life of Leadership, Generosity and Goodwill
A treasured tree has fallen, and a great gap is left in our world. Such was the mark made by the way in which Harold walked amongst us. Cherished heart of his family, and bright light of our lives, a great man has passed and our sorrow leaves us speechless.
How does one even begin to pay tribute to a life of one of the most dignified, generous and kind-hearted souls?
Gentle, wise, loyal. Good-natured, giving, thoughtful. Attentive, altruistic, understanding. Respectful, reserved, witty. Moral, principled, honourable. Caring, considerate and warm. These are but a few of the esteemed views by which so many people held Harold.
As a husband, father, clansman and friend, it is without doubt that Harold has been well loved and respected by family and friends alike. In classic noble fashion, Harold made an immense difference in the lives of people throughout New Zealand. And his profound influence has extended far across land and sea to Scotland and around the world.
From his quiet manner to his wry sense of humour, Harold held strong to principles of excellence, hard work, compassion and care. His leadership and guidance left many of us astounded at the vast breadth and scope of his initiatives and day-to-day activities. It’s been mind boggling, and a tad difficult to keep up with all the commitments that Harold seemed to manage with grace and good humour… and with an exceptional heap of help from dear Mary and competent Alison, Tina and teams.
Generosity of Heart
Harold was never one to draw front-row limelight. Yet his enormous contribution to all things Clan Donald spans the globe from Auckland to Scotland. Side by side, Harold and Mary have been central figures in our Clan. Just as Clan Donald is the largest clan in Scotland; and the descendants of thousands of McDonalds who emigrated make it the largest in the world, Harold followed suit. From T-shirts to new kilts for a school band, caps to Committee Clan shirts, sunhats to CDs. Raffles to whisky, new event ideas to newsletters, Harold’s large and generous heart seemed boundless.
And Clan Donald Auckland was not his only commitment. He was proud High Commissioner for Clan Donald New Zealand, advisor to Clan Donald at Armadale in Skye and a trustee of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, Past President of Clan Donald Auckland and Districts, TASC – The Association for Spinal Concerns, McIsaac Caregiving Agency, the accounting practice, the family trusts, trips within New Zealand, to Australia and the US, travel back and forth to Scotland, and hosting a cadre of house guests and visitors from Australia to Skye. Highlights of their numerous trips to Scotland have always been topics of great conversation over the closing dram at Clan Committee meetings.
For Harold, it’s been about people. Over the years, the Committee in Auckland has expanded and members and friends have thoroughly enjoyed Harold’s company. Harold and Mary. Donald, Allan and Barry. Murdock and Lois, Bruce, Tom and Lynnette. Andrew, Heather, Eileen and Noelene. Carl and Cindy. Jeanette and me. And a few years back, Harold encouraged Doug and Pat to come on board, which led Doug and me to share VP duties. Harold commented to me that Doug always looked the more splendid in tartan and lace cuffs. Clan Donald members and kin – such as Dianne and Tom, Marni, Lawrie, Ishbel and Halina, Elwyn and Christine, Allan and Lee – and those from many other clans spent many New Year celebrations in Waipu with Harold.
I’m certain that all of us from Clan Donald around the country, as well as Clans Fergusson, Davidson and Campbell. Stewart, MacMillan, Cameron and Sutherland. Robertson, Gordon, Fraser and more share in our sadness and our tribute. In May, we applauded as Harold was awarded The Somerled Certificate, named after the medieval Gaelic hero, for his outstanding work and dedication to represent and promote Clan Donald in New Zealand.
Na sloigh as feart san gcruinne A muirn a mire a bhfighnamh;
Ni comhnairt bheith ‘ na bhfeagmhais:
Ni h-eibhneas gan Chlainn Domhnaill
The best people in the round world, their joyousness, their keenness, their effectiveness;
Without them is no strength; it is no joy without Clan Donald
Life presents with joys and sorrows, tragedies and triumphs. And we often hear that it’s how we respond that matters. For Harold and his family, the injury and then loss of his eldest son Robert was an unexpected opening to support thousands in New Zealand with spinal injury. In 1991 Robert turned to Harold to help establish a model caregiving service. McIsaac Caregiving Agency, now McIsaac Healthcare, has provided homebased care for people with spinal injury, traumatic brain injury and complex care needs for over 20 years now. As an extended member of the TASC family, Harold’s work has been treasured.
Warmth and Hospitality
Harold’s laugh was contagious, like Santa Claus. A few years ago there was a fundraiser in Auckland for TASC. Harold invited Jon and I to attend with him, Mary, Doug, Pat and Tina. We heard that many of the All Blacks were going to be there. Mid-way through the dinner, Mary and I left the table (women often leave in pairs). The corridor was long and narrow and we chatted amiably not really watching where we were going. All at once, very (very) large, muscled men in black suits strode their way up this constricted passage. One could feel the air of force and might pushing ahead of Richie McCaw who brushed past my left side, and Ali Williams brushing by Mary’s right. The rest of the team followed in a towering wave of power and strength. Our jaws dropped in astonishment, as we were flanked between a bulk of male energy.
Such was our brush with the famed ABs. When we returned to our table, I related the story to Harold. He roared with such laughter that the rest of us couldn’t help but join in his great mirth at our unexpected encounter. My autographed copy of the menu by Richie is a treasured memory of our many good times.
Hospitality was one of many hallmarks of Harold’s generous nature. Whether at Harold and Mary’s home, at the many Clan dinners, or in the Pavilion at the “Games,” that knowing, quiet smile lit up the faces of visitors and friends.
Personally, Jon and I have been enriched through our years of happy times with Harold. I will miss the many afternoon teas at our place, the lively discussion of the life and times of boys growing up in New Zealand, the many dinners at old Pallini’s at the Milford Mall and many other restaurants in Mairangi Bay and the North Shore. Be assured, though, these good meals and times will go on with our good friend Mary by our side.
Harold’s faith was inspirational. After his surgery at Mercy in Mt Eden, Jon and I visited Harold. His cheerful attitude and cheeky smile prevailed. He told us he never worried too much because he always put his trust in “the Boss upstairs.”
Truly, there are no words for the loss of this great man. We can only hope that, in time, our sorrow will subside, our tears will dry and our hearts will mend. May our long and happy memories with Harold – all his inspirational work to make a difference to hundreds under his care – and the breadth of his extraordinary contribution to Clan Donald worldwide slowly work to the foreground of our lives.
For each of us the pattern of grief travels at a unique pace, sometimes fluttering, other times overtaking. May we take comfort in our kinship and common friendship with Harold. May we commemorate Harold with grace and admiration. And may we all be inspired by Harold’s life – one of immense yet quiet leadership, generosity and goodwill. Farewell treasured and honoured friend.