Richard Lloyd Gwilt C.B.E., F.F.A., F.I.A., F.S.S.

RSE Obituary

by J M Ross

Obituaries Index

Richard Lloyd Gwilt died on 21 August 1972 in his 72nd year and with his passing the actuarial profession lost one of its most distinguished members. A progressive illness in his later years restricted his mobility but in spite of this he courageously maintained a keen interest in all his previous activities. Elected to the Society in 1941, he greatly prized his Fellowship and served on the Council 1947-50.

Born in Edinburgh and educated at George Watson's College, Dick Gwilt entered the service of the Edinburgh Life Assurance Company in 1917 to commence what was to be a most successful business career. He joined the Scottish Widows' Fund in 1922 and rapidly won promotion. In quick succession he filled posts of increasing importance until in 1947 he was appointed General Manager and Actuary, a position he held until his retirement in 1961. As a manager he earned the respect of his colleagues by his technical and administrative ability, but it was his absolute integrity of attitude and conduct together with his unfailing courtesy and consideration for others which gained him their loyalty and affection. The years of his management were full and exacting. In Great Britain the life assurance industry was recovering from the restrictions of wartime and was expanding rapidly so that managements were compelled to review and alter many existing practices. As chairman of the Associated Scottish Life Offices in 1956-58 he was deeply involved in the adjustments which took place at that time.

In addition to his business activities Gwilt gave long and faithful service to the Faculty. Acting first as Tutor, Examiner and, then, as a member of council he held at one time or another nearly all the principal offices. He was a member of the Joint Mortality Committee of the Faculty and Institute from its inception and was chairman from 1949-61. He was President of the Faculty from 1952-54 and during his term of office was awarded the C.B.E.

At all times a stimulating writer on actuarial subjects perhaps his most notable contributions were a paper delivered in 1926 dealing with Notes on the Census Method of obtaining Rates of Mortality among Assured Lives (Trans. Fac. Actu., Edinb., 11, 105-135) and another in 1956 given on the occasion of the Faculty Centenary on 'Mortality in the past hundred years' (Ibid, 24, 40-176). By attending international congresses regularly and taking part in the proceedings he became well known and highly respected in actuarial circles both at home and abroad. His comments were always welcome and to the point. On one occasion he was honoured by and accepted an invitation to lecture in Scandinavia.

Gwilt strongly believed that the scope of his profession extended far beyond the confines of statistical analysis and life assurance and that actuaries, on account of the specialised nature of their training, were well qualified to play an important role in the realms of finance, investment and industry-something which has now become universally recognised. An independent member of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board and of the Agricultural Wages Board he was also a director of several companies including his own office and served with great acceptance on a number of committees concerned with the investment of public and charitable funds, including the Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust 1954-66.

He was a person of great loyalty and made many friends both in and out of his profession. Thoughtful and purposeful to a degree he had the ability in discussion to make the solution of a difficult or obscure problem appear obvious and he would delight in doing so but never in an unkindly manner. Of discerning taste in literature and the arts he found relaxation and enjoyment in reading, particularly the classics of the Victorian era, in pictures and in music.

As a young man he was an active member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and when not on the hills by way of recreation he could usually be found on the golf course where he showed an above average proficiency at the game. In the course of time however angling became his favourite pastime and those of us who were fortunate enough to accompany him on such an outing know that his passion for fishing on either river or loch continued to the end.

He married in 1926, Marjory Mair, and in their home they were warm and kindly hosts. His wife shared many of his interests and during the clouded years of his physical incapacity she was his constant and devoted companion. They had three sons and a daughter and to them and to Mrs Gwilt we extend our sympathies.

Richard Lloyd Gwilt was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 3 March 1941, his proposers being Sir Ernest M Wedderburn, Sir Edmund T Whittaker, A Graham Donald, James P Kendall. This obituary, written by J M Ross, appears in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Year Book 1973, pages 34-35.