Respected lecturer Dr Madeleine Lombard to be laid to rest day before her beloved grandson christened
A much-loved mother and respected lecturer from Co Antrim is being laid to rest a day before her grandson is christened.
Final farewells will be said today to Dr Madeleine Lombard, who taught in the English department at St Mary's University College, Belfast, for more than 25 years.
The 63-year-old, from Lambeg, died of a heart attack on Tuesday.
Wife of former principal Michael (62), who formerly taught in Holy Trinity and St Matthews Primary Schools, she was a devoted mother to Anna (34), Peter (32) and Jonny (29).
Family and colleagues remember Dr Lombard's love for seven-month-old grandson Gianluca Perito, and how she enjoyed her role as a doting grandmother.
Gianluca is to be christened tomorrow, and although the family say it will be hard, Dr Lombard would have wanted it to go ahead.
Widely known in Belfast after teaching thousands of young people, "warm and caring" Dr Lombard met Michael over 40 years ago, when both taught at St John the Baptist Primary in the city.
"It was a shock and incomprehensible for us, especially my dad, who was her soulmate," said her daughter Mrs Lombard-Perito, a special needs teacher.
"They had a deep, deep love for one another. The type of marriage people would look at and wish they had. Mum had such a quiet, quiet strength about her, she touched everyone she met.
"She was always laughing and smiling, she loved the craic and she always had time to speak to anyone. Mum always had a joyful spirit, she was kind and generous in so many ways - she was a real 'people person' who had a way of understanding people.
"Even during tough times she remained positive and kept smiling. People remember her sharp wit, her good sense of humour and her vast intelligence. It's a huge loss for us."
The family have received hundreds of tributes from around the community, where she was known as a devout Catholic who said the Rosary every day and attended Mass at Clonard Monastery and the Sisters of Adoration Convent in west Belfast.
A talented musician, Dr Lombard played the organ for more than 10 years at St Agnes', Andersonstown, and was known for her ability to write faith-related poetry, including her communion reflections for Anna's wedding and also for Mass.
She had plans to retire and take writing classes in New York to improve her already recognised skill in poetry, as well as spend time with her husband and grandson.
A special Mass at St Mary's College earlier in the week was attended by staff and students wishing to pay their respects.
Colleague Dr Brian Hanratty said: "Her warmth and sympathy, tempered by her ready wit, were greatly valued and appreciated by her colleagues and generations of students alike."
Requiem Mass will be held today in St Anne's Church, Kingsway, at 11am.