Obituary from the August 2021 issue of the Socialist Standard
ROBERT VALLAR (20 July 1920 – 9 June 2021)
Born over 100 years ago, Robert Vallar was a remarkable man. To his family he was dad or grandpa, to a selected group of others he was Comrade Vallar, but to everyone else who knew him – friends, customers and acquaintances – he was simply Bert.
The son of Prince Vallar and Margaret Collis, Bert had a younger brother, Stephen and a younger sister Hetty. Growing up in a loving family in the 1920s and thirties Bert saw at first hand the massive inequality, economic hardship, political turmoil and social deprivation capitalism created.
Influenced by his family and what he saw around him, in his youth Bert began to look to socialism as a way of creating a better society and way of life for everyone.
A highly intelligent person and a gifted artist Bert entered Glasgow School of Art in 1938. However, the start of the Second World War the following year saw him moving to Ireland to live with relatives. As someone with strong socialist beliefs and pacifist principles Bert fully recognised the futility of becoming cannon fodder in what was essentially a war between opposing capitalist systems.
While living in Ireland Bert gained citizenship and an Irish passport through his Irish connection. While he was in Ireland he met Teresa O’Neill. They married in 1944 and had three children: Joyce, Lorraine and Brendan; five grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
After the war Bert joined his father Prince, then Scotland’s preeminent tattoo artist, in his studio at 404 Argyle Street, taking over when his father died in 1947. Over the years he developed an increasingly useful side-line in supplying professional photographers with mounts, albums and photo frames.
In 1965 Bert closed the studio and moved to new premises in York Street to concentrate on developing and expanding his new business – supplying professional photographers and manufacturing and selling picture frames. Bert continued to work full time well into his eighties.
These core values and the economic and social deprivation that he saw growing up led Bert to want to change the world he and others were forced to live in under the yoke of capitalism. In 1943 he joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain. He remained a member for the rest of his life, constantly developing and enhancing his understanding and knowledge of how our economy and society really works. For many years he was one of the key members of the party’s Glasgow Branch. An accomplished public speaker Bert conducted public meetings and membership drives across the city right up until the 1970s. Bert stood as the party’s Parliamentary candidate for the Glasgow Woodside constituency on three occasions in the 1960s. For Bert and his family the annual Mayday meetings in Glasgow, to which he usually invited comrades from the Party’s London Branch, were one of the highlights of the year.
His wife, Teresa died in 1994 and he is survived by his two daughters and son, his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
(From the eulogy delivered at his funeral).