Don Cline 1949-2019: The Woof of Churchill and the Warp of Scotland

Don Cline 1949-2019: The Woof of Churchill and the Warp of Scotland

Churchill: Walk­ing with Des­tiny, Andrew Roberts’s out­stand­ing biog­ra­phy was at Don Cline’s bed­side, and he almost made it through. I opened his copy to where the last book­mark fell. It was Jan­u­ary 1944, a scene redo­lent of the fas­ci­na­tion we shared.  The writer was Lady Diana Coop­er: “There was our old baby in his rompers, ten-gal­lon cow­boy hat and very ragged ori­en­tal dress­ing gown, health, vigour and excel­lent spir­its. Nev­er have I seen him spin more fan­tas­tic stuff, the woof of Eng­lish and the warp of slang.”

That pas­sage will now always remind me of Don, who him­self spun fan­tas­tic stuff. Nev­er until the end had I seen him in less than “health, vigour and excel­lent spir­its.” Once I had the idea that I could out­ride him on a road bike. But on 50-mile char­i­ty rides, I could nev­er catch him. So I sug­gest­ed we cycle from my house to his, Moul­ton­bor­ough to Andover, NH. It’s 45 miles, but I knew it was most­ly down­hill. I was cer­tain I had the advan­tage. Two old men (we were in our six­ties) who should know bet­ter. Not even breath­ing hard at the end, Don pre­tend­ed not to notice I was whacked. Instead he broke out a bot­tle of Pol Roger to celebrate.

7 August 1949 – 20 Sep­tem­ber 2019. Don had far too lit­tle time, yet he showed us all how much you can pack in. He was an avid bag­piper, wood­work­er, boat­builder, world trav­el­er, cook and pho­tog­ra­ph­er. He skip­pered their Cape Dory on adven­ture­some sails from Manhattan’s East Riv­er to the New Eng­land coast. “Maineiacs” like the rest of us, he and Lor­raine even owned an island bun­ga­low you could only reach by boat. It had once belonged to the L.L. Bean fam­i­ly. That’s a recap, but not near­ly all.

* * *

Don grad­u­at­ed from Hiram Col­lege in 1971, became a video­g­ra­ph­er, moved to New Hamp­shire, met Lor­raine, and became father of two daugh­ters, Corinne and Mered­ith. Don joined her com­pa­ny, Cline Design, engaged in mar­ket­ing for com­mer­cial con­struc­tion com­pa­nies through­out North Amer­i­ca. That was in the 1980s, and he was just get­ting going.


As founder of Cline Con­ser­va­tors, Don was expert in the recon­struc­tion of stained glass. He restored stained glass win­dows for New Hamp­shire church­es and pri­vate homes, as well as his­toric build­ings. His work can notably be seen today at Cas­tle in the Clouds here in Moul­ton­bor­ough, and St. Paul’s School in Concord.

Don loved bag­pipes and was Pres­i­dent of the New Hamp­shire Pipes and Drums. So it nev­er occurred to me that until much lat­er, he’d nev­er been to Scot­land. He he loved Eng­land just as much. Like me, he drove the odd Land Rover, because it was British and would go any­where. Typ­i­cal­ly, he took a Land Rover course to enable him to do just that. He even made me tune in the rake­hell British dri­vers on the BBC show Top Gear.

The drums and pipes are still

Of course our Anglophil­ia led to Churchill, whose woof and warp snared us both. His photographer’s eye made him a col­lec­tor of Churchill press pho­tos, dis­trib­uted by the score when new, but val­ued collector’s items today. A few months ago, see­ing the trail nar­row­ing appre­cia­bly, Don promised them to the Hills­dale Col­lege Churchill Project, which I have the hon­or to serve. They join a dis­tin­guished archive led by the Mar­tin Gilbert Papers, the Ronald Cohen Churchill writ­ings col­lec­tion, and Ron’s Churchill audio archive.

I nat­u­ral­ly men­tioned the usu­al tax advan­tages of such gifts, but Don laughed that off with a couldn’t-care-less. I think he want­ed his col­lec­tion to go where it would do the most good. It will. Hillsdale’s mis­sion, as a cen­ter for the study of Churchill’s states­man­ship, is carved in gran­ite. Don knew, and I know, that fifty years on, it will still be doing what it does now to edu­cate future gen­er­a­tions. It was a fine thing for Don and Lor­raine to join us labor­ers, as Mar­tin Gilbert used to say, in the Churchill vineyard.

And now the drums and pipes are still. The fun and the laugh­ter, the excite­ment of shared dis­cov­ery, the noisy accom­plish­ment of things great and lit­tle, all these are now silent. In the still­ness are only echoes and reminders. Each of us whose life was touched by Don has their mem­o­ries. And a man nev­er dies as long as he is remem­bered. Scots Wha Hae, my old friend.

2 thoughts on “Don Cline 1949-2019: The Woof of Churchill and the Warp of Scotland

  1. Lor­raine, my deep­est sym­pa­thy to you and your fam­i­ly. Keep­ing you all in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Very touch­ing piece. I am sor­ry he did not fin­ish Andrew Roberts’magisterial book. But he had a very good taste of it. I don’t know but I imag­ine he knew Scot­tish poet­ry and musi­cal tra­di­tions and nation­al music very deeply. Scots Wha Hae etc. and Auld Lang Syne ….O I had ance a true love but now I’ve nane at a’ and I had three braw brither but I hae tint them a’ My fayther and my mither sleep in the mools this day. I sit her a’ amang my lane aboon Sweet Roth­say bay. ‘Tis a bon­nie bay at morn­ing and bon­nier at the noon and bon­ni­est when the sun draps an’ red comes up the moon. And the mist creap o’ver the Cum­brays and Aran’s peaks are grey and the hill sleep like kings aboon sweet Roth­say Bay!

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