By EDDIE MCILWAINE
THE funeral service for retired schoolteacher and rugby referee James ( Jim) McBride who died at 85 was held in Windsor Presbyterian Church on Lisburn Road, Belfast, where he was an elder and a trustee.
But it could just as well have taken place in St Catherine's Parish Church, Aldergrove, where he frequently worshipped or Killead Presbyterian just a few miles from his home at Ballyrobin Road, Templepatrick, where he was also a familiar face in a pew. In fact there were five clergymen at the Windsor thanksgiving for Jim's life — the Rev Paul Erskine, the just retired minister of Windsor who paid the tribute, the Rev Alexander Wimberly of McCracken Memorial Presbyterian, a young American who is Convenor of the Windsor vacancy, the Rev John Murdock of Killead Presbyterian, his assistant the Rev Stephen McNie and Killead's senior minister, the Rev Derek Weir.
St Catherine's, where Jim was chairman of the Men's Fellowship, was represented by the people's churchwarden Victor Sefton who is secretary of the Fellowship and other members. "Jim was a man with a love of churches and their people which explains why he attended these three which were close to his heart," said the Rev Weir.
Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Stranmillis College old boy Jim was a principal at Fane Street PE School and then head of Deramore Secondary. "He loved sport, was a member of Masserene Golf Club in Antrim and apart from his time as a rugby referee he was also a referee assessor, a task he was fulfilling only a few days before his death," said the Rev Erskine. "He was like Barnabas in the New Testament — a man who was always encouraging others. He loved serving the community. He served on the education board of the Presbyterian Church, was a governor of the College of Business Studies and was active in the Manpower Service and the Youth Training Programme."
Jim who was awarded the OBE in 1985 for services to education and sport, was also a member of Antrim Probus Club who were represented at the service along with mourners from all Jim's three churches and rugby and education colleagues. They joined in the singing of Amazing Grace, one of his favourite hymns.
He was married to bank clerk Maude whom he met at dance in the Overseas Club in Belfast, for 47 years and they had a son Minford and a daughter Cathy and two grandchildren. His wish was always that his last farewell would be from the Windsor church where as a young man he taught the Bible class. In the personal family tribute Minford McBride, a lecturer, read a version of the emotive poem The Dead by Rupert Brooke.
After the service Jim McBride whose last task before his sudden passing was arranging the November speaker for St Catherine's Men's Fellowship and setting the date for the Christmas get together, was buried in the family plot at Donegore Cemetery.