Charlie Poots, father of Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and a founding member of the DUP, has passed away at the age of 90.
Mr Poots had been receiving treatment at the Ulster Hospital after falling at home earlier this month. He was also the grandfather of DUP councillor Caleb McCready.
His death on Thursday morning comes just a day after the death of fellow DUP member and the father of MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Jim Donaldson.
Charlie Poots became one of the initial DUP members after campaigning alongside the Rev Ian Paisley as a Protestant Unionist in 1969, Mr Poots went on to serve on the old Lisburn Borough Council from 1973 until 1997 and spent a term as deputy mayor in 1991/92.
He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly representing North Down in 1973, retained his seat in the Constitutional Convention in 1975, but lost out in the 1982 Assembly election.
DUP leader Arlene Foster led the tributes to Mr Poots.
"Charlie’s service to the people of Lisburn was marked in 2009 when he was made a Freeman of the City of Lisburn and his loss will be felt by many people, but particularly in that city and amongst the people to whom he gave such dedicated representation," Mrs Foster said.
The tradition of service to the people did not end with Charlie’s retirement however, but continues today through his son Edwin within the Northern Ireland Assembly and his grandson Caleb McCready who was elected as a DUP Councillor in the Downshire area of Lisburn just last year.
"My heartfelt sympathies are with my friend and Executive colleague Edwin and the wider Poots family at this most difficult of times. Having been involved in caring for Charlie over recent years I know how difficult it was not to be close to him as he approached the end of his life.
"The current circumstances make it difficult for us all to express our thoughts directly with those who have lost someone. However, I hope they can take some comfort from the very many people who will have been impacted by Charlie’s life and work and who will feel his loss.”
DUP Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan paid tribute to Mr Poots on social media.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Edwin Poots and the wider family circle in the loss of his father, Charlie. Charlie was a founding member of the DUP and first stood with Dr Paisley in 1969," he said.
Upper Bann MLA Jonathan Buckley said he was "saddened" to learn of Mr Poots passing.
"Just a few months ago I enjoyed fellowship with Charlie at his home, I know his presence, and company will be deeply missed by all," he said.
"My thoughts and prayers are with my good friend and colleague Edwin Poots and the family."
Education Minister Peter Weir also offered his condolences.
"Thoughts and prayers with Edwin and his family on the loss of his father Charlie Poots. This is an incredibly difficult time for any family suffering loss. He is at rest with the Lord," he said.
Edwin Poots told the Belfast Telegraph earlier this month of his family's pain at being unable to visit his elderly father in hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.
He praised healthcare staff for the support for his father.