Belfast Telegraph

Journalism bids final farewell to Victor Gordon as renowned reporter laid to rest in Portadown

By Ivan Little

The self-evident irony for journalists covering the big news story in Portadown yesterday was that Victor Gordon wasn't there to approach for advice.

Sadly the veteran reporter who knew his beloved hometown inside out WAS the story, not the source of it, nor the dispenser of wisdom about it.

And so it was left to those of us who learnt our craft from Victor to ponder for ourselves on what angles to take from a moving funeral for this ordinary man with an extraordinary gift for journalism and zest for life.

For starters yesterday, politicians from all sides in all-too-often divided Portadown united at Armagh Road Presbyterian Church to honour the 76-year-old multi-award winner.

Mourners in the packed church included dozens of Victor's former colleagues.

They heard a moving tribute from ex-Portadown Times editor David Armstrong, who said during 45 years working with him he showed a fierce pride in his journalism and his newspaper.

He said: "Second best was never for him. And he could turn his hand to anything."

There were also emotional reflections from Victor's son Paul who said his father was a warm and loving family man, but also a man of journalistic integrity who would never reveal his sources and who loved Portadown.

His "inseparable" brother Billy said all his family - including his own son David Gordon, the former Belfast Telegraph political editor, Nolan Show editor and Stormont spin doctor - were all immensely proud of Victor, whose other passions away from journalism were also recognised yesterday.

Fans and officials of Portadown Football Club were at the service, along with former manager Ronnie McFall.

And there were tears in the eyes of Victor's colleagues in his church choir and Portadown Male Voice Choir as they sang poignant farewells to their erstwhile friend.

Rev Christina Bradley - a former journalist who is now minister of Armagh Road Presbyterian Church where Victor was baptised in 1941 and married in 1968 - tried to weave together all the strands of Victor's remarkable life as a youth leader, Christian, family man, sportsman and journalist.

She said "journalism was Victor's thing" adding that he had a great sense of justice and stood up for people who were not given a voice.

She added: "He picked up many a story where people were sidelined or marginalised.

"That really got Victor going. Unfair treatment and injustices that people were suffering needed exposed.

"Victor really seemed to sniff stories; he had his ways of getting information and is known to never have betrayed the trust of those who gave him stories.

"He loved his job and even though he retired officially a few times after he turned 65, it never lasted long before he was back as a freelance once his fingers were itching again to write about what was going on out there."

But Mrs Bradley said that Victor's life had been carried by his faith.

She said like many journalists, Victor had been targeted during the Troubles.

"Victor's faith enabled him to be calm and composed even at times of being attacked," she said.

Victor was buried at Seagoe cemetery.

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