A legendary principal of Tandragee Primary School and valued member of the town’s Ballymore (St Mark’s) Parish Church has died at his Madden Road home following an illness.
Mr William John (Bill) Frizell was ‘Master’ at the school for 20 years until his retirement in 1988. At his funeral service in Ballymore, the Rector, Rev Canon Shane Forster, recalled, “Bill was in many ways the last of his generation, of the old school - a great disciplinarian but with a kind and caring heart.
“It was not just a case of teaching the Rs, it was about teaching a value system that would set his young charges on the right path for the journey of life. He knew all his pupils by name.”
Canon Forster added it was fitting that the service was held in view of the beautiful stained glass window that Mr Frizell and his wife Amy presented to the parish in 2000, “as it bears an image of Jesus surrounded with children and the text, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me’.”
William John Frizell was born on June 17, 1928, in Legilly just outside Dugannon, the son of William and Catherine Frizell. He and his brother Tom spent their formative years working on the family farm.
Their father died when Bill was just two and a half years old and they were raised single-handedly by their mother. The loss of his father when was Bill was at such a tender age had a lasting impact upon him.
He gained a scholarship to the Royal School, Dungannon, and progressed to Stranmillis College to start his teacher training. Between school and college he worked for a year to earn the money to pay for his further education.
The young William Frizell appreciated all that his mother had done for him to put him through school, but realised that to proceed further he would need to be able to financially support himself. While studying in Belfast his involvement with the Officer Training Corps (OTC) had an important influence on his young adult life.
When he qualified as a teacher, Mr Frizell taught in Aughnacloy Primary, became vice-principal of the Howard Memorial in Moygashel and was then promoted as principal in Benburb. He then moved to Tandragee where he served for 20 years .
Mr Frizell was steeped in the Church of Ireland tradition, having been baptised in Derrygortreavy Parish Church in Tyrone, and he served a number of parishes before moving to Tandragee.
Canon Forster added, “Bill’s faith was a constant factor throughout his long life. As Select Vestry member, honorary treasurer, former Churchwarden and Reader he was a great support to the various rectors down the years.
“On the Wednesday before he died, the Archbishop of Armagh (The Very Rev Richard Clarke) visited Bill at home and celebrated Holy Communion with him. Bill was quite weak, but he took a full and active part in that service.”
Mr Frizell loved sport throughout his life - he had played rugby for the first fifteen at Dungannon Royal, played bowls, tennis, table tennis, loved walking and cycling. He was a very knowledgeable gardener.
Most of all, he was a devoted family man – as well as his much-loved wife Amy and daughters Lois and Carol, he leaves grandchildren Peter, Lauren, Chloe and Jack. He took a close interest in everything they did and had a great rapport with all three generations.
The funeral service was in a packed Ballymore Parish Church. Canon Shane Forster officiated, and the Curate-Assistant, the Rev Graham Spence led the prayers. Burial was in the adjoining churchyard.