FORMER Mayor and first Freeman of the City of
Lisburn, Dr Samuel Semple MBE JP, passed away peacefully at home
last Friday (October 31) in his 92nd year.
Dr Semple was a well-known and much-loved
figure who dedicated his life to the education of young people
and the advancement of Lisburn.
He was actively and prominently involved in
Local Government in Lisburn for 24 years as a Councillor and
Alderman, from his election to Lisburn Borough Council in 1973,
until his retirement in 1997.
During that period he held office in a wide
spectrum of committees as Vice-Chairman and Chairman,
culminating in his election as Deputy Mayor, 19771979 and Mayor
of Lisburn from 1979 to 1981.
His work, commitment and dedication to his
many activities over the years led to him becoming the first
ever Freeman of the City in 2003, Lisburn's highest honour.
Dr Semple was an ever-present figure
throughout the City of Lisburn's history and was a strong
advocate of the City Status campaign.
He was also instrumental in the educational
lives of many of Lisburn's young people.
Dr Semple was a stalwart of the College in
Lisburn and has had an almost lifelong connection with it which
started when he arrived as a 12 year old pupil in 1932; he later
returned as a teacher and was Vice-Principal of Lisburn
Technical College from 1963-1966, before going on to become
Principal of Lisnagarvey High School.
Mr Alister McReynolds, former Principal of
Lisburn Institute of Further and Higher Education and long time
friend of Dr Semple, spoke this week of the 'courteous,
thoughtful, dedicated, devoted and intelligent man' who had
served Lisburn's young people for so many years.
"The thing that most people say is that he
was extremely courteous," said Mr McReynolds.
"He was thoughtful and he possessed a
courtesy that is almost old world now.
"He was very deferential to people and he
would never do anything that he thought would be hurtful in his
everyday dealings with people.
"But for me the great gift that Sam brought
was his great intellect. In spite of being very much an
Edwardian gentleman, he was capable of great rational thought."
Mr McReynolds also highlighted Dr Semple's
strong political convictions. "I would describe him as a great
Ulsterman," he continued.
"He had a love of politics. He was
surprising. He was very much an Ulster Unionist but he had an
understanding of Irish Nationalism. Sam's party piece was
singing the Fields of Athenry with some emotion and fervour.
"He was also a very religious person and a
devoted Anglican, who had great feeling for the Prayer Book,"
added Mr McReynolds.
"He was 100% for Lisburn and for Lisburn
College, which he regarded as his alma mater. He was a pupil,
teacher, Vice Principal, a governor, Vice Chairman and Chairman
of the College's Board of Governors.
"He was a tremendous mentor to me. As far as
I was concerned he was the world's gentleman and I never had a
cross word with him."
As well as his dedication to Lisburn and
Lisburn College, Dr Semple was above all a family man.
"He was devoted to his wife Edith and often
brought her to events," said Mr McReynolds. "Sometimes he would
refuse invitations if she wasn't invited. She was his partner."
Edith predeceased Mr Semple last year.
Mr McReynolds also recalled Dr Semple's love
of gardening and the times they spent discussing one of their
favourite topics - history.
"He was a strategic thinker in all he did. He was very
interested in geneaology and history and he would talk for
hours. He was one of the great talkers but also a great
Mayor's tribute to man he knew for half a
Mayor, Councillor Ronnie Crawford, led the tributes to Dr Samuel
Semple this week and as a mark of respect all City Council
Committee meetings were postponed.
"It was with great sadness that I learned of
the death of the first Freeman of Lisburn City, Dr. Sam Semple,
whom I have known for the last 50 years," said Mr Crawford. He
was my English master at the former Lisburn Technical High
School where he was held in great esteem because of his
motivation and earnest encouragement, which he sought to impart
to all his pupils. "Over all those years I have never known any
former pupil to speak of him except in terms of endearment and
he became quite an institution in this city, which he loved so
much. He had a great grasp of our local history, an undying love
for his country and its institutions. He was also a very
committed Anglican and devoted to his wife and family.
"Right until the end he was delighted to
learn of the achievements of any of his former pupils whose
names he could recall with great accuracy. His passing has left
a large gap in our civic landscape but all those of us who had
the privilege of knowing and working with him will always
remember him with great affection," he said.
Ivan Davis, who was elected to the council at the same time as
Dr Semple, also paid tribute to his friend and former colleague.
We both entered local government in 1973,"
said Mr Davis. "His contribution to local government and the
Borough of Lisburn in particular was invaluable.
"Sam Semple was a highly talented and
giftedperson. He treated us all with the same unfailing courtesy
and good humour and had the total respect of everyone who knew
Adjourning this week's meeting of Lisburn
City Council's Planning Committee as a mark of respect, Chairman
Councillor Bill Gardiner-Watson, also spoke warmly of Dr Semple.
"He represented the council with distinction on many boards and
authorities and was also the first freeman when Lisburn became a
city" he said. " I would like to express my deepest sympathy to
Dr Semple's family on their great loss."
DUP group leader on Lisburn Council Alderman
Edwin Poots, speaking on behalf of his colleagues, said Dr
Semple had made a huge contribution to the City of Lisburn.
"He was a remarkable individual with a
tremendous intellect who will ne sadly missed, we express our
deep condolences to his family at this sad time" he said.
As a mark of respect the Mayor requested the
flag at the Civic Centre was flown at half mast on the day of Dr
`A man of vision, faith and unswerving
AT the funeral of Dr Samuel Semple at Christ
Church on Wednesday, Canon Dr Ken Cochrane spoke of a man of
vision, a man of faith and a man of unswerving dedication.
"I can say without equivocation or
reservation - I have never ever met a person of such devotion,
dedication, skill, achievement, zeal and motivation in one
person in my fifty years ordained in the Priesthood of the
Church of Ireland, than that which was contained in Dr Samuel
Semple," said Dr Cochrane.
"As a young man he came to realise that God
had a work to accomplish through him, and his Christian faith
was to lead him to the meaning of his life. The young Samuel
Semple found his vision for his life - his vocation to teach.
"He loved his neighbour, irrespective of his
class, creed or denomination. This was reflected in all aspects
of his life," continued Dr Cochrane.
"He loved his church and his faith to be a
continuous learning to his journey's end. Christ Church Lisburn
was very dear to his heart. He loved the traditional worship,
which enabled him and prepared him to meet his saviour and no
doubt he has heard "well done, good and faithful servant, enter
now into the joy of they Lord."
Following the service at Christ Church, Dr
Semple was laid to rest at Aghalee Parish Church, Soldierstown,
following a short service led by Rev Paul Dundas.
Dr Semple was pre-deceased by his wife Edith.
He is survived by his sons Kenneth and Paul, daughter-in-law
Barbara and grandchildren Adam, Louise and Stephen.
Principal's great sadness
and Chief Executive of South Eastern Regional College Mr Ken
Webb spoke of his sadness at the passing of Dr Semple.
"I have had the privilege to have known Dr Semple for quite a
number of years," said Mr Webb He was my teacher when I came to
the College and I always found him to be a very professional and
committed person. It was my great pleasure to have met with him
again this year when I took up the position of Principal at the
"Dr Semple had given many dedicated years to
the College, first as Lisburn Technical College, then Lisburn
College and Lisburn Institute and his support has still been as
strong since we became South Eastern Regional College," he
continued. "I am proud that Dr Semple made the considerahle
effort to attend our Higher Education Graduation Ceremony in
September this year, despite being in ill health, to present the
Dr Semple Cup to the 'Most Enterprising Higher Education
student'. He used this occasion to reaffirm his commitment to
the College and to outline the importance of further and higher
education in Northern Ireland. He will be very sadly missed."
`He was an inspiration'
THE Principal of Lisnagarvey High School, Mr Jim
Sheerin, said his predecessor was an "inspiration". Speaking
after Dr Semple's funeral this week, Mr Sheerin said: "Dr Semple
was a man of great vision based on his Christian values.
"He was an inspiration to others and one of
the most impressive educators I have ever had the honour to know
and work with.
"His contribution to Lisnagarvey High School
and Lisburn is a legacy of striving for excellence and expecting
nothing but one's absolute best. His expectations were high for
all of us and based on his being a teacher of boys.
"Those high expectations he had for his
pupils were the same high standards he expected of them when
they became citizens in business or leading the community. He
was a great man who made a great contribution and will be sadly
missed by his many friends and colleagues."