Ron Rollo, 1937-2011

Published: December 31, 2011
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Ronald “Ronnie” Grieve Rollo passed away early on December 28, 2011, after a brief illness. Piper, judge, teacher and lover of all things Scottish and bagpipe, Ronnie was one of the great men of Canadian piping.

Born in the small village of New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire, he took full advantage of his northeast birth place in receiving lessons from the famous Banff piper, James Robertson, pupil of G.S. McLennan and composer of the classic “Farewell to the Creeks.” Ronnie’s first foray into the pipe band world he loved was Robertson’s Turriff & District Pipe Band.

At the age of 17, Ronnie moved south to Fife where, in Lochgelly, he would meet the true love of his life, June.  Life in the Kingdom with June was good, and it was here Ronnie joined Hugh MacPherson’s Grade1 Lochore & District Pipe Band.  In 1958 an adventurous spirit and a natural curiosity saw the young couple immigrate, or shift, as Ronnie might have said, to Canada.

Canada was good to Ronnie and Ronnie returned the favour. A joiner by trade and a self-made man it was in Canada where, with June at his side, he built a business, a family and a great life. And through it all was woven the music of the bagpipe and the people who made it.

As a piper he devoted countless hours to the pipe band practice hall. He was a perfectionist and carefully mindful of the bands for which he’d choose to play. They were always excellent. The vintage great City of Toronto band of the 1960s, 400 Squadron, Clan MacFarlane and his own Toronto & District Caledonia, a band he worked to build and as pipe-major led to premier grade success.

Ronnie’s competitive pipe band career was capped in his founding membership of the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band. As player with and, later, manager of the band, Ronnie said only recently his finest competitive pipe band performance was with the band in the 1984 World Pipe Band Championship March, Strathspey & Reel contest.  That day the band was to be ranked third, at the time, the highest placing ever for a non-Scots band.

The last number of years saw Ronnie answer the call to service and step up to administrative leadership within the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario. His last role with the organization was that of president.

 

Ronnie grew to be something of a renaissance man: travel, antiques, golf, a good book and Robert Burns – “Tam O’Shanter” was his favourite.

He was a piper to the core but a family man at heart. He leaves a truly great legacy of a loving family and countless friends, all of whom he in some way, great or small, touched and he, in turn, will be well-remembered.

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white – then melts for ever;

On behalf of all in the pipe band world the deepest condolences at this time to his family; wife June; children Beverley (Bruce), Jimmy, Ian (Lynn) and Ainsley (James); seven grandchildren and countless friends.      

A private funeral is planned.

- Submitted by Michael Grey

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  1. rsm

    I first met Ronnie and June at Ed and Isobel Brydie’s home. I played accordion in Ed’s band, and Isobel and June were relatives. The Rollo’s had just come from Scotland, and Ronnie was introduced, by Ed, as a fine” piper. It was there that lifelong friendships began. Now I emphasise fine because Ronnie was a fine fellow

  2. BrianPollock

    A true friend with a great family and a love of piping and all things Scottish. We had some great times together. Will miss you, Ronnie. Janet & I send our love to June and all the Rollo family.

  3. JoanGrey

    To June and all the Rollo family,our thoughts are with you at this sad time , as well as our heartfelt sympathy. Joan and Bill Grey

  4. tombaker

    It has been our pleasure over many years to have known and counted Ronnie as a friend. Our deepest sympathies to June. Bevie and Bruce and all the rest of the Rollo family. Tom and Mary Baker

  5. BillLivingstone

    seems far to chintzy to post about Ronnie to a website…special guy…not always easy…hard minded, but full of sappy emotion when it counted…he and I have a long history and I think it’s best that I share it with June and the huge family that Ronnie loved above all else in his life

  6. NeilDickie

    So sorry to hear this sad news. My condolences to June, Bev and the entire Rollo family. Ronnie was one of the finer people I have known in the pipe band world. He’ll be sorely missed. Neil Dickie

  7. StuLiddell

    Seeing Ronnie’s face this morning gave me such an empty feeling. I had so much fun with this guy and his family, all truly wonderful people. Memories will tie us together now. All my love to the Rollo clan, my thoughts will be with you.

  8. DonMole

    Good friends are made quickly and endure for a lifetime. I met Ronnie and June over 50 years ago and have enjoyed many happy times with them over the course of those years. My sympathies go out to June and their children. Ron’s memory will stay with me for the rest of my life. Don Mole

  9. ColinMacLellan

    What a lovely photo of Ronnie. He and June welcomed me and showed me great kindness when I came to Canada as a very young 18 year old. I will always remember him with great affection. Sad condolences from me and Jenny to June, Bev, Iain, Ainslie, Jimmy, Bruce, Fraser and Alex and the rest of the family.

  10. MikeCole

    A fine tribute to a great man by Michael. We will miss Ronnie a lot. Our deepest sympathies to his family. Mike and Mary Jane Cole

  11. AndreTessier

    I am deeply saddened to hear this news. Ronnie and his wonderful family have been great to me over the years. My most profound sympathies go out to June, Ian, Ainsley, Bev, Jimmy, Bruce, Lynne and the rest of the family. Ronnie, you will be greatly missed.