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Paisley family mourning 'big brother' Harold, who has passed away aged 91

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 08/12/2015

The Rev Ian Paisley with his sibling Harold (left)
The Rev Ian Paisley with his sibling Harold (left)
Ian Paisley, Eileen Paisley, Rosetta Paisley (Harold’s wife) and Harold
Harold (left) with his father James, brother Ian, mother Isabella and sister Margaret

The Paisley family are mourning the death in Canada of the elder brother of the former First Minister.

The Rev Harold Paisley and his brother were affectionately called "the long fellows" by their father when they were growing up in Northern Ireland, according to Baroness Paisley.

Last night she told the Belfast Telegraph that despite them living on different sides of the Atlantic the brothers maintained a "good, close family relationship" over the years.

She said that while none of her family were heading for the funeral in Canada this weekend, Harold's daughter, who lives in Scotland, would be making the trip.

Harold Spurgeon Paisley was a retired evangelical minister who had lived for most of his life in Canada.

He died last week at the age of 91 in a care home, where his devoted wife Etta still lives.

His sister-in-law described him as an "adventurous fellow" who, while still underage, enlisted in the RAF in order to fight during World War Two, before joining the Merchant Navy and travelling the world.

While his brother went on to found the Free Presbyterian Church, the Democratic Unionist Party and was Northern Ireland's First Minister, Harold devoted his life to being a church minister in Vancouver, Toronto and latterly Ontario.

Baroness Paisley spoke fondly of her late husband's elder brother.

"They were both great fun and had a great sense of humour - you would have known they were brothers," she said.

"We all laughed together more than anything else when the boys got together.

"We all had lovely times as a family.

"Harold used to call Ian his 'wee brother', and we have a story that their father, the Rev James Kyle Paisley, called them the 'long fellows' when they were growing up as they were both so tall and skinny.

"We always kept in touch and there was a very good, close family friendship between Harold, Ian and (their sister) Margaret and her husband, the Rev James Beggs."

Baroness Paisley said that she and Dr Paisley had visited Harold and his family several times over the last few years, and that Harold had visited Northern Ireland a few years ago.

Dr Paisley and the Baroness had also attended the wedding of Harold's grandson in London over four years ago.

She said her family were not told of Harold's death at the Victoria Village Care Home, Barrie, Ontario, until after 11pm on Friday due to the time difference.

She said: "Harold had not been well for a good while.

"He had been in this lovely nursing home after being cared for at home by Etta.

"She was wonderful and kept him at home and looked after him as best she could.

"It just broke her heart that she couldn't take care of him anymore.

"He must have been living there for about a year before Etta took ill with a stroke. While she made a good recovery, she was never able to go home again.

"But her family got her into the same home, and that was lovely for them both to be together."

Harold was the eldest child of the James Kyle Paisley and his wife Isabella, and was born in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Raised as a Baptist, he started to preach in Wellington Street Assembly, Ballymena, at the age of 21 in 1945, before marrying a year later.

He and his wife had been married for 69 years.

He is survived by Etta, his sons Kenneth and Harold, his daughters Ruth and Linda, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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