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A Century of Tradition

Norman Munro


Norman was born in Bathgate, West Lothian and educated at Bathgate Academy, then Edinburgh University for an honour’s degree in Economics. He joined the then Coats Organisation, coming to São Paulo as a trainee in 1955, where he met his wife, Joyce. They were married in Edinburgh in 1956. His career with Coats Viyella took him to Portugal, Brazil and Canada as Mill Manager and to Brazil as Manufacturing Director.

Norman was a wonderful singer and entertainer and took part in many shows, including a Black and White Minstrel show on Canal 7, pantomimes at SPAC and old-time musicals at St Paul’s Church. As a singer, he formed the Haggis Alley Row Choir and the Barber Shop Quartet entertaining audiences at Legion pub nights, Canadian club nights and Stacey House parties. At a ceilidh in the 1990’s Lexie, his daughter, gave a marvellous rendering of “Tal pai, tal filha”. Norman was also a songwriter of no mean worth and composed a farewell song, sung to a popular Scottish tune, for all staff members of Linhas Corrente returning to Scotland.

Norman had a very upright posture, with chest out and shoulders back and had the nickname, in Portuguese of “Peito de Pombo”. To his pigeon chest he attributed his excellent singing voice and will be especially remembered for his stirring and strident “A Scottish Soldier”. That`s Norman`s song. At the Caledonian Ball, he toasted the Lassies with many compliments, and it took 2 ladies, Jan Garland and Sheila Walls to jointly reply to this charming and complimentary speech.

In 1985, Adam Simpson Ross, Headmaster of St Paul`s School, was awarded an MBE for services to education in Brazil. Mr Ross worked in Sao Paulo and Salvador before becoming Maths master, then Headmaster in 1962.

During Norman’s term of office as President of the Society, he donated a cup, the Munro Cup, to be contested annually between the Scots and the American Society. The Daily Post, maybe because of Norman`s interest in British-American-Brazilian relationships, ran an article in April 1985 on “Scotland and its Brazilian and American Descendants”.

“Of the millions of families that emigrated from Scotland, two will be featured in this article: The Cochranes that came to Brazil and the Carnegies that went to the United States. Lords Cochrane was not a typical Scotch immigrant. A Lord of the British Admiralty, he escorted the Portuguese Royal Family to Brazil during the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. In Brazil, Dom Joao VI asked him to create the Brazilian navy. … Here in Brazil there is the St Andrew`s Society which promotes Scot get-togethers. … Even in Brazil the Scottish country dancers use specific tartans for specific clans. The dancers are dressed in full fig at the St Andrews dinner at the end of November and the Caledonian ball in September…. Major Scot products are consumed heartily in Brazil – even though some arrive falsified from Paraguay. Even Robert Burns` “Auld Lang Syne” is sung every New Year`s Eve at midnight with Portuguese words and a samba rhythm, and many a New Year`s toast is toasted with Scotch liquid products.”

Despite the quaint spelling and wording, Norman`s influence can be felt in this article.

Unhappily, Norman passed away in 1994. He and Joyce had 4 children, Linda, Lexie, Donald, and Douglas.

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