Joe was ‘a true gentleman’

THE family of the late Mr Joseph (Joe) Wilson have submitted the following tribute:

The town of Dromore and surrounding district are mourning the loss of local man Joseph (Joe) Wilson.

Born in Banbridge on April 27 1936, Joe, the youngest son of the late George and Jane Wilson, and younger brother of the late George, Jim and Sam Wilson, the resided at the family farm in Skeogh, Dromara.

Joe attended Skeogh School, leaving at the age of 14. He went straight to work for local grocer, Joseph Gibson and Sons Ltd., Dromore.

Joe, like most young lads, enjoyed sport. He was extremely fit then, completing in the Flush cycle races alongside many of his pals. He followed closely the boxing career of his brother Sam, known as ‘Tommy’ Wilson and would go to the Ulster Hall, Belfast, to support him.

He loved music and dancing and he would frequent many venues, the Floral Hall in Belfast being one of them.

In 1955 Joe met the love of his life, a local girl from Drumiller called Agness (Nessie) McVeigh. They were married on August 4 1960. This was a momentous year for Joe as he also gave his life to the Lord.

In 1964 they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Arlene, and settled into family life in Drumlough, a few miles outside Hillsborough.

Joe worked hard to support his little family, moving around several jobs over the next few years but God had plans for Joe. After much prayer, he had no doubt that God was guiding him towards the ministry so he commenced studies, initially with the Reformed Presbyterian Church and then with the Free Methodist Church.

In 1974 Joe got the call to his first church, Oldpark Free Methodist Church, North Belfast – a hard and deprived area in the midst of the Troubles.

Knowing this was God’s will, Joe and his family took the step of faith and moved to Belfast. It would be a big challenge to the Wilson family, leaving those they held dear behind them.

They spent many memorable years with the fellowship in North Belfast area and made many lifelong friends. Joe’s dedication could not be questions, he always put God and his church first.

However, Joe’s ministry was to come to an abrupt end due to ill health and he was forced to retire. This prompted Joe to move back home to his local area of Dromore, giving him and Nessie the opportunity to spend more quality time with family and friends.

It didn’t take long for them to settle back in to country living and were soon enjoying church activities again with the Independent Methodist Church in Dromore. They also shared many happy times with the fellowship of Fresh Oil Ministries, Dromore, with whom they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2010.

Joe was a faithful member of the Orange Institution, giving much dedication to Tullymore LOL 602, the Royal Arch Purple and RBP 990. He held many offices over the years and was held in high esteem. Joe was also a valued supporter of the Democratic Unionist Party, he was well known and respected by local councillors and MLAs – this was evident with many in attendance at his funeral.

Joe was widely known and respected in the pipe band world. He played with local pipeband, Leapogues, where he became leading drummer. He shared many happy years there with his eldest brother, George, a piper in the band and his daughter, Arlene, drum-major of the band.

When Joe’s drumming days were over he used his knowledge and skills on the adjudicating panel for drum-majors (dress) and marching and deportment of bands.

Over the years Joe helped many young drummers and drum-majors achieve encouragement and support to other, not only in pipe band circles but in other aspects in life.

Joe loved life, Joe loved people. Anyone who came into contact with him loved him, he always had a smile, a joke to share and his laugh was infectious.

Sadly Joe passed away on Sunday December 18 2011. He was not alone; with his son-in-law, Mervyn, at his side Joe slipped peacefully into the presence of his Lord and Saviour. He was laid to rest on Tuesday December 20, 2011.

Joe was a loving husband and father, a loyal friend but, most of all, Joe was a servant of God. It was a pleasure and privilege to have known him. His memory will last forever in the hearts of those closest to him, however, life will not be the same without him.

Joe Wilson – a true gentleman.