In 1924, health failing, Geddes left Bombay, choosing Montpellier in the south of France as his new home. He founded his Scots College “on a plot of rough hillside” he managed to purchase, probably with the financial help of the woman who was to become his second wife, Lilian Brown. The College’s purpose was to encourage dialogue between differing intellectual and philosophical positions.
His youngest son Arthur came out to help him but still found his ageing father demanding. He married Lilian, a long-time admirer fifteen years his junior, in 1928. In a strange mirroring of Patrick’s Mexican adventure fifty years earlier, Lilian went blind on their wedding night – though thankfully only temporarily, and was able to support him in his last great venture.
Having refused one before, he accepted a knighthood in February 1932, “to help further his thinking” and died a few months later on April 17. Vivendo discimus was one of his mottos. By living we learn.
Patrick Geddes lived a long time, was open to many influences, from which he created many far-reaching connections. He leaves us with a dazzling example of action based on cherished beliefs.