The life and times of Ann Dobson reflect the changing role of women over the years.
A popular, independent woman, Ann (79) faced life with an impish sense of humour, which passed down the generations. She died in hospital after courageously battling a long illness.
She had a strong sense of family and was deeply anchored in Portadown, making friends throughout her life, and with a talent for keeping a dead-pan expression while creating fun all around her.
It was ironic that, in her earlier life - when she worked in the banking services - she had to quit her job when she married. All women in professions like banking and the Civil Service had to quit work, once they married – a situation which would never be tolerated in these days of equality!
Ann married GP, Dr Billy Dobson, who retired at the turn of the Millennium. She was the life and soul of three generations, and leaves daughters, Jennifer, Lynne, and Julie, sons-in-law Jeremy, Michael, and Ian, sister Helen and grandchildren Olivia, Emily, Alexander, William, Henry, Christopher, Jonathan, Michael, Anna, Jack, Sophie and Sam.
Rev Tony Davidson, who conducted the service of thanksgiving at Armagh Road Presbyterian Church on Monday, January 2, reflected that Ann had married “the young man next door”. The daughter of late dentist Graham Rodgers and Lilla (nee Morton), she was brought up at Church Street, and had many relations in the Portadown community.
Billy, originally from Waringstown, had joined the practice of Dr George Dougan, snr, and later became a medical partner with Dr George Dougan jnr.
Billy and Ann were married at Armagh Road on January 19, 1959, with the Rodgers and the Mortons all closely associated with the church.
Ann and her sister Helen were keen members of the Guides (1st Portadown) unit.
She was educated at Hart Memorial Primary School and Lurgan College, after which she worked in Larne and Dungannon for the Belfast Banking Company – later the Northern and now Danske. After marriage, she became Billy’s ‘home back-up’. In those days, doctors were often out during the night on house-calls. Billy and George Dougan worked alternative nights, with phone-calls going through direct to their homes.
Ann had to prioritise patients and often contacted Billy when he was out on a visit, directing him to the next patient. Their home was originally at Ridgeway Park North and they moved to Ridgeway Park South when the family came along.
Mr Davidson told the large congregation, “Ann transformed her house into a home for her husband and three daughters. Their home became a base not only for the girls but also their friends, who loved to talk to their mum. In each stage of her life, she had a keen understanding of how young people ticked.
“With her generous gift of hospitality, her ability to converse, her fierce competitive spirit, and her mischievous, quirky sense of humour, life was never dull in the Dobson household.
“She loved playing tricks on April Fool’s Day. Later in life, the home became a family base for all 12 grandchildren, from first grandchild Christopher to youngest Sam. Each of them was treated uniquely.
“She had a way of making each grandchild feel special, by indulging them and keeping in touch with them. She was a friend as well as a granny.”
The family ethos was underlined at the funeral with the two Bible readings – the first by the younger grandchildren, each reading a short section from each passage, and the second by the older grandchildren. The third reading was by nephew Michael Clarke. And friend Joanne Hogg sang the song ‘Rest’ from Uncountable Stars Album. The tribute was by daughter Jenny, whose youngest daughter Julie reading the poem, ‘You can shed tears when she is gone’.
During the latter part of Ann’s illness daughter Lynne’s care and dedication along with the medical, nursing staff and home carers allowed her to remain at home until almost the end.
Ann pursued her interest in history through involvement in the local historical society. Her imagination was stimulated by reading crime novels and enjoying the theatre. She made friends wherever she went. She was a loyal and good friend, as demonstrated by the large attendance at the funeral.
The Dobsons enjoyed their holidays – in Portballintrae and later in Spain and Portugal and various cruises. They particularly enjoyed family get-togethers at her Ridgeway Park home, the latest being Christmas past.
Ann Dobson had a fondness for stray dogs, giving many a good home over the years. She cared for them, fed them and brought them for walks along the Bann River towpath.
She volunteered for the YMCA, being a past secretary and treasurer. She also played squash. With her competitive spirit, she excelled at bridge, with partners like George McCaw (an international player) and Ruth Bloch.
Rev Christina Bradley, minister at Armagh Road, was ill and unable to officiate at the funeral, with Mr Davidson of First Armagh stepping in for the service of thanksgiving. There followed a private committal at Seagoe Cemetery.
Donations are to Craigavon Cardiac Care Association and the Dogs’ Trust Shelter, NI Branch, via Milne Funeral Services Account, 59 Seagoe Road, Portadown, BT63 5HS.