Family man who was firefighter for 37 years

Hall Obit INPT0613-027.
Hall Obit INPT0613-027.

A HERO, a creator, a gentleman and a comedian is how Portadown man Robert Hall, who has died aged 89, was described by his granddaughter Sarah.

Robert, or Bob as he was affectionately known by many, passed away peacefully at Glenview Private Nursing Home. His wife of 55 years, Margaret, had died less than five months earlier.

Robert had a widespread reputation for being a gentleman and for his hospitality, humour and friendship. The many hundreds of sympathisers who called at his home, attended his funeral and sent cards and messages, bore testimony to the love and respect in which he was held by a wide circle of family, friends and acquaintances from all walks of life and all sides of the community.

A great family man for all of his life, Robert was the third youngest, and last surviving member, of a family of nine who were born and reared at the family farm in Cregganconroe just outside Pomeroy in Co Tyrone.

At the age of 17 Robert joined the Northern Ireland Fire Authority as a trainee fireman and served proudly with the Fire Brigade for 37 years until his retirement in 1977 at the age of 54.

He met his future wife Margaret at a dance in Donaghmore in 1954 and they married on March 2, 1957.

Their first home was in Espy Park, Killyman, but shortly after the birth of their first daughter Helen in 1958 the family moved to Portadown where Robert was stationed in the then full-time Portadown Fire Station.

They lived in Drumilly Green and had two more daughters, Lynda and Roberta, before they moved to their current home at Corcrain Drive, which has been the family home for the past 44 years.

Robert was a hard worker and always had to be doing or creating something. He could turn his hand to anything and, as well as working as a full-time fireman, he was frequently called upon by his many friends, relatives and neighbours to undertake all manner of odd jobs for them such as building, decorating or fixing things.

Nothing ever defeated him and if there were no obvious solutions he invented one that was more often than not quite ingenious!

He was rightly very proud of his home in Corcrain Drive where he personally carried out all the renovations, which involved adding an extension, garage and front porch.

In midlife, Robert developed an interest in garden ornaments and worked for a number of years until he was well into his 60s making and selling them.

When their daughters moved on to have families of their own Robert and Margaret enjoyed their annual ‘foreign’ holiday and they both loved the fact that they had visited so many different places while they were able to enjoy the experiences.

For more than 25 years they both enjoyed getting away to their family caravan, originally in Kilkeel and for many years in Annalong, where their youngest daughter Roberta settled in 1992.

Robert continued to enjoy good health until he was well into his 80s, which enabled him to enjoy life to the full until failing health forced him to slow down over the last couple of years. Right to the end, though, Robert retained his razor-sharp wit and humour which he delivered with his familiar wink and a twinkle in his eyes that charmed everyone around him.

He was a proud and long-serving member of Kilmoriarty Orange and Black Institutions and played a key role in the renovations of the Orange Hall on the Loughgall Road in the late 1970s. Robert’s last outing was to visit the recently refurbished Kilmoriarty Hall where he gave all the modernisation work his experienced nod of approval.

Robert is survived by his daughters Helen Walker (Portadown), Lynda McClatchey (Toronto) and Roberta McKee (Annalong), sons-in-law Marshall, Colin and Graham, grandchildren David, Nicola, Paul, Lauren, Rachel, Sarah and Emily and great-grandson Jaxson.

The funeral took place in the family parish of St Columba’s, where both Robert and Margaret were faithful and respected long-serving members. The service was conducted by the Rev Canon Bill Adair and Robert’s nephew, the Dean of Clogher, the Very Rev Kenny Hall, took part.

The service included many glowing tributes to Robert and the highlight was a moving and amusing speech entitled ‘My Granda Bob’ written by his granddaughter Emily when she was asked at school to make a speech about her hero. The speech was read by her proud mother Roberta. In it Emily tells of her Granda’s “funny, laid back and loving personality” and affectionately describes him as “an undercover clown”.

The service ended with an emotional version of the LeAnn Rimes song ‘Please Remember’ which Robert’s granddaughter Nicola had recorded for her grandmother Margaret’s funeral.

Burial was at Kernan Cemetery and donations in lieu of flowers are being made to the Alzheimer’s Society, c/o Joseph Poots & Son Funeral Directors, 42 Bridge St, Portadown, County Armagh, BT63 5AE.