Remembering John McIlWraith, a Scottish Wit

John McIlwraith, whose commentaries graced All Things Considered between 1990 and 2001, died last Friday. Listeners may recall McIlwraith's deep Scottish accent and wit, which he applied to subjects ranging from insomnia to a childhood bout with what was thought to be tuberculosis.

McIlwraith emigrated from Glascow to Vancouver, British Columbia, as a young man. His first job there was as a coal-stoker on the western ferries of the Canadian Pacific railroad.

But he soon drifted toward a career more suited to his garrulous dispostion: as morning radio host in Seattle, and later as a writer for newspapers and magazines. Charming to be sure, John McIlwraith was crusty and willing to tweak convention — like he did when he raised the hackles of his countrymen.

"The Scots are a race not noted for their music," McIlwraith began. After explaining his almost blasphemal dislike for an ingrained Scottish tradition, he closed with a wondering comment about how Scots could have "mistaken bagpipes for a musical instrument."

John McIlwraith suffered from Lewy Body Disease. He is survived by his wife, Dixie, four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A Party for an Endangered Organ

Writer John McIlwraith has been told he has stomach cancer, he will have surgery tomorrow. To prepare for the surgery he decided to celebrate his digestive organ in a unique way.

Copyright © 2001 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

Copyright © 2001 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Jesse the Incorrigible: My Grandson

Commentator John McIlwraith tells about his difficulties with his grandson, who was at one point living with him. A complex and complicated child, Jesse has Attention Deficit Disorder. Eventually, his outbursts forced his grandparents to send him away.

Copyright © 1997 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

Copyright © 1997 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

McIlwraith Commentaries

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.