Pharmacist and optician who had a deep interest in ancient languages

Tommy Proctor.
Tommy Proctor.

Well-known pharmacist and optician Thomas Proctor has died after a long illness.

He passed away on Monday of last week, aged 90, at Lisnisky Nursing Home.

Originally from Armagh, he had lived in Portadown since 1959, firstly at Clounagh Lane and laterally at Carnreagh in the Mandeville area of Craigavon.

Mr Proctor was pre-deceased by his wife Hetty and is deeply missed by his son Tom, daughters Mary and Maureen, daughter-in-law Anne, son-in-law Neville, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Born in 1924, he attended Armstrong Primary School in Armagh, where - in his late teens – he was a volunteer weather recorder at Armagh Observatory, sending daily weather forecasts to London.

He later studied in Belfast, where in 1947 he graduated as an optician and pharmacist, gaining the medal for first place in pharmacy in Northern Ireland.

Initially, he worked for W.P. Ewart’s Chemists in Armagh, then at Armagh Infirmary and in St Luke’s Hospital, before moving to Portadown.

He went into partnership in town with David Rowe in Rowe’s Pharmacy, Woodhouse Street, before taking over the business as a pharmacist, where he served the people of Portadown and the wider farming community of the area.

He had a deep interest in the names and meanings of the surrounding townlands, and this led him to learn the Irish language. He could also read the ancient languages of Greek and Hebrew.

Mr Proctor was a committed Christian and was deeply involved in his church, St Columba’s Church of Ireland at Loughgall Road, which was carved out of Portadown (St Mark’s Parish) many years ago.

He was Sunday School Superintendent for a long period, prior to being commissioned as a Lay Reader. He was well-known and respected throughout the Diocese of Armagh and far beyond.

His Christian ethos also led him to joining the Mid Ulster Branch of The Gideons International organisation and he was involved in placing copies of the Bible in many schools throughout County Armagh.

The caring aspect of his business life and his involvement in the church were praised by St Columba’s Rector Rev Canon Bill Adair at his funeral service in the church he served with such distinction. Interment was at Kernan Cemetery.

Donations in lieu of flowers are to – Gideons International, c/o Joseph Poots and Son, Funeral Directors, 42 Bridge Street, Portadown BT62 5AE.