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Robert Burns Lives!
Poem on Burns by John Imlah and read by John P. Imlay

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

John P. Imlay, Jr

At our monthly meeting of the Burns Club of Atlanta this week, a guest of member Bill Tucker was introduced. He was none other than John Imlay, a prominent Atlanta businessman who “is considered a leading authority and pioneer in the software industry”. Before going any farther though, let me tell you a bit about this Scotsman as shared by Mr. Imlay’s assistant, Barbara Brooks, and thank her for this insight.

“Mr. and Mrs. Imlay live in Scotland four months of the year each summer.  They own a manor house, Westerdunes, in North Berwick.  The North Berwick Burns' Club is the oldest of the Burns' Clubs and John has attended several Burns' dinners at that club.

Photograph courtesy of Burns Club Newsletter Editor Bill Tucker

While reviewing the Imlay family genealogy they discovered a poet, John Imlah, from Aberdeen, Scotland, circa 1840.  Ten years ago, some friends of theirs found a book of poetry by Mr. Imlah and this book included the poem on Burns.  The most famous poem/song of his was "O! Gin I Were Where Gadie Rins," which is a staple wherever the bagpipes are played in Scotland.

Mr. Imlay appreciated the opportunity to read John Imlah's Burns' poem and enjoyed meeting all of you.”

I went a step farther and checked with my old friend George F. Black, author of The Surnames of Scotland which was first published in 1946. Black describes the name Imlay as “a softened form of Imlach, q.v. Agnes Imelie was burnt for witchcraft in Aberdeen in 1597”.  We can’t stop with this tidbit of information since we are referred by Black to Imlach in which we find the name John Imlah (1799 -1846), poet born in Aberdeen, who was author of “O gin I were where Gadie runs”, referenced above by Ms. Brooks.

Photograph by talented fiddler and Burns Club member Keith Dunn

John P. Imlay, Jr. is Chairman of Imlay Investments, Inc., a private investment firm which manages capital and provides venture funds for small technology companies. Imlay chaired the software industry association and has been a prominent spokesman for the computer services industry for twenty years.

Imlay is the retired Chairman and CEO of Management Science America, Inc. (MSA).  MSA was among the top ten software companies in the world with 60 offices worldwide and over 12,000 customers.  Under his leadership, the company grew from $2 million in revenue in 1970 to $280 million in 1989 when the company was purchased by The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation. Imlay directed the merger of MSA and McCormack and Dodge, an existing division of Dun & Bradstreet, into Dun & Bradstreet Software and served as Chairman for six years until his retirement in 1996.

Upon selling the company, Imlay formed Imlay Investments and The Imlay Foundation.  He currently serves on the board of the Atlanta Falcons and is a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Before heading MSA, Imlay held various positions at Univac and Honeywell.  He holds a bachelors degree in industrial management from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mercer University.  In 1994 Imlay was inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame for Georgia and in 1997 received the Entrepreneur of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.

John Imlay is author of the management book, Jungle Rules, published in the United States by Dutton, October 1994, and internationally by Kogan Page (London), November, 1996.

Club Affiliations                                       

United States:                Scotland:
Peachtree Golf Club        Royal and Ancient
Atlanta Athletic Club         Honourable Company of Edimburgh Golfers
East Lake Golf Club         Royal Troon
Honors Course                North Berwick
Capital City Club              Loch Lomond

I have often heard people read a poem on Burns that an ancestor wrote or even ones they wrote themselves and wondered why. Why would they write a poem on Burns? There really is nothing new to say about him that has not been said in one form or fashion years ago. Many of them are extremely sentimental and too mushy. So I must confess that I was not too excited about a guest of the club reading another tribute to Burns, even if it was written in 1841. I have a second confession to make. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Before Mr. Imlay got through his first page, I was hooked! When the club paused for a break, I made my way over to him, congratulated him on the poem, and requested a copy to share in the pages of Robert Burns Lives! and he readily agreed. Not even 24 hours had passed before I had it in hand. I then inquired about a bio and a bit or two of information about Mr. Imlay and his Scottish connections and followed that up with a request for a photo as well. All arrived in a timely fashion with the picture coming within minutes of my email to Ms. Brooks.

The Burns Club of Atlanta, founded in 1896, is a unique Burns group. One is always in for a treat when attending the meetings as our speakers seem to go all out to address this club whose clubhouse was first occupied in 1911. Not only is it a treat to listen to guest speakers, but our membership is usually treated to an interesting evening when members themselves give a talk. I have seen speakers from Scotland stand almost dumbfounded when they set foot in the building for the first time, a structure that was built like the Scottish home in Ayr where Burns was born in during the 18th century. Usually the first thing they do is grab their cameras and begin taking pictures.

We deeply appreciate John Imlay sharing this family heirloom with us and will welcome him back to the Burns Club of Atlanta anytime he chooses to speak to us.  (FRS: 9.11.13)

Poems and Songs
By John Imlah (1841)

Return to Robert Burns Lives! Index Page


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