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Son's tribute to 'incredible man of God' David Somerville

Popular minister laid to rest after sudden illness

By Lesley Houston

Published 23/02/2016

The funeral of the Rev David Somerville at St Matthew’s Church, Richhill
The funeral of the Rev David Somerville at St Matthew’s Church, Richhill
The UUP's Danny Kennedy at the service
The DUP's Jim Wells at the service

The family of a popular Co Armagh minister who died suddenly at the weekend have told how he deteriorated rapidly after suffering from a mild flu.

Ian Somerville, the eldest son of the Rev David Somerville, said his father had time for everybody and was always "just a phonecall away".

His funeral service was held yesterday at St Matthew's Parish Church in Richhill followed by a private interment in Knocknamuckley Parish, where he first entered the clergy.

The 57-year-old father-of-three and grandfather took ill at home on Saturday and died in Craigavon Area Hospital the next day.

A former teacher, the minister had been the rector of Richhill Parish in Armagh Diocese, and had also served in the Diocese of Dromore.

Church of Ireland Bishop Harold Miller paid tribute to the "dearly loved" and "valued" minister.

Yesterday, as the family circle was coming to terms with their loss, Ian said his mother May was being very brave following the shock loss.

"May is holding up very well, she's a very strong person," he said.

"It's been a very hard time for us all. It was totally unexpected. It was just a mild flu, but that's so common at this time of year, and he deteriorated very suddenly. It was a great shock."

Ian said his abiding memory of his father will be of a man with a great love for his family.

"He told us every day, or every time he saw us, that he loved us.

"No matter how busy he was with everything he was always only a phonecall away.

"You get a little bit independent as you grow up and you get on with your own life and family, but he always had time for us. We are a very close family." He added that his father was "just an incredible man of God and an incredible example" as a human being.

Shortly after his father's passing on Sunday Ian thanked the legions of well-wishers from across the world who expressed their condolences on social media.

On his Facebook page many former pupils of Rathfriland High paid tribute to their one-time teacher, speaking with great fondness for "Mr Somerville".

Ian wrote: "My dad was such a good Godly man and it is comforting to know how well he was thought of."

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