by ALISTAIR BUSHE
TRIBUTES have been paid to well-known Lisburn man Jack Stevenson, who died on September 23 at the age of 79.
Jack was well respected throughout the Lisburn area, a fact acknowledged by the large attendance at his funeral service held in Ronnie Thompson's Funeral Church last Thursday.
Born in Belfast in 1924, Jack was educated in Foyle College, Londonderry and later in Wallace High School.
During the Second World War he worked as an engineer with the BBC in England.
After the war and for some 40 years thereafter, he was the driving force behind Stevenson Brothers of Seymour Street, the automobile and agricultural engineering company founded by his uncles and father in the early part of the 20th century.
The company held the British Leyland franchises for cars and tractors and also sold and serviced a wide range of agricultural machinery.
Outside business, Jack played a prominent role in the life of Lisburn. He was a JP, a member of the Lisburn Rotary Club, a member of the Masonic Order and a member of many major sports clubs in the town. He was Captain, later President and at the time of his death a trustee of Lisburn Golf Club, a past President of Lisburn Rugby Club and a Vice President of Lisburn Cricket Club. Jack was acknowledged as an excellent after dinner speaker and his ready wit and story telling enlivened many an annual dinner.
It is perhaps in Lisburn Golf Club where he is best remembered. In 1987 he was appointed Greens Convenor, a post he was to hold for the next 12 years. His appointment coincided with his retirement from business and he was able to devote his full and not inconsiderable energies to developing the Lisburn golf course into the sylvan landscape it is today.
Jack travelled the length and breadth of Northern Ireland, and indeed further afield, to purchase specimen trees to grace the Blaris landscape. He introduced literally hundreds of rhododendrons to the course, so that Lisburn is now often referred to as the Augusta of Northern Ireland.
He had an intimate knowledge of the inventories of all the principal horticultural nurseries in the province, information that he put to good use in the landscaping of the golf course. In a highly symbolic visit to the Golf Club just before he died, Jack was driven round the course and was able to inspect the preparations underway for the hosting of the Golfing Union of Ireland Cups and Shields Finals - the premier amateur golf competition held in Ireland each year.
It was fitting he was able to witness the praise lavished on the course, by thousands of visitors from every corner of Ireland, before he died.
In addition to the golf club Jack was also closely associated with the rugby and cricket clubs. In recent summers he derived much pleasure watching his grandson Greg Thompson play his way onto the Ireland Under-19 cricket squad.
He is survived by his wife Eileen, daughters Jackie and Gail, their respective husbands William and Ian, grandchildren Jenny, Adam, Christina, Greg and Luke and his sister Helena.