ONE of Dromore's best known residents, Mr. Robert Jess, of Banbridge Road, passed away on Thursday. Though he retired some time ago, for many years, Bobby, as he was almost universally known, pounded the pavements of Dromore in his occupation as a postman.
While his health allowed he was no less active in his leisure time; a member of the loyal orders, he also had the distinction of being the founder member, first chairman and first honorary life member of Dromore Beekeepers' Association.
A spokesman for Dromore BKA explained that it was on Bobby's land that the first association apiary, complete with observatory house, was built, becoming the prototype for all the association apiaries in Northern Ireland.
Bobby took up beekeeping in 1976, when his late wife Doreen was advised to take honey and cider vinegar to control a sinus problem; it worked.
The association spokesman said, "As a postman, Bobby identified all the beekeepers in his district and on 1 August 1984 he called them to the inaugural meeting of Dromore and District Beekeepers' Association in Preston's Auction Rooms.
"On 1 June 1985 Bobby led a party of 45 beekeepers on a trip to Ayr to visit the Bee Research Station at Auchincruive and in the following year the party had grown to 52 to make the same journey.
"In 1985 Bobby proposed an Association Apiary but it took t10 years for the membership to catch his vision; the Apiary was officially opened on 7 September 1996.
"Bobby saw the Dromore Association outgrow the Auction Rooms, the Old Post Office Sorting office, the Methodist Hall, the Town-hall and it now meets in The Science Research Centre, Dromore High School.
"The Dromore and District Beekeepers' Association, from small beginnings, has grown to become the largest Association on the Island of Ireland; this was all the result of a postman, Bobby Jess, having a vision."
Bobby, who passed away peacefully in hospital, is survived by son Richard and daughter-in-law Caroline, daughters Roberta, Elizabeth, Doreena, Jacqueline and Pamela and sons-in-law Neil, Cohn, Stuart and Leslie, sister-in-law Sadie and grandchildren.
His funeral took place on Saturday from his Banbridge Road home to Dromore Cathedral, followed by interment in the adjoining churchyard. Donations in lieu of flowers may, if desired, be sent to John Gamble, Funeral Director, 7 Meeting Street, Dromore, BT25 1AQ, for the Parkinson's Disease Society.