Tributes to harbour master Robert Anderson who brought Coleraine history to life
The grieving family of Portrush's harbour master have described him as both "a gentle man and a gentleman" after his sudden death at the weekend.
Coleraine native Robert Anderson, who celebrated his 69th birthday last week, died suddenly but peacefully while surrounded by his loving family at the Causeway Hospital on Sunday.
He was a highly qualified seafarer with over 40 years service on a variety of small ships, and had spent 25 years as dredging master and River Bann pilot at Coleraine Harbour.
A founding member of the Foyle and Bann Shipping Association, he was also a member of Coleraine Harbour Commissioners, where he served as chairman for a number of years.
Mr Anderson had also worked as harbour master at Portavogie, and as port manager for Caledonian MacBrayne on the Rathlin Island ferry route.
An author of local history and photographic books, he was the chairperson of Coleraine Historical Society and had published several books including The Port of Coleraine and the Fading Memories series.
His family said he had "time for everyone he met" and "loved nothing more than being with his wife and family".
Paying tribute, his wife Elizabeth, son Neal and daughter Charlotte McFadden said: "Robert was a very dedicated, quiet family man.
"He had time for everyone he met and was willing to help when he could, personally and professionally.
"He enjoyed the simple things in life and weekend city breaks, and had just returned from a wonderful time in Palma four days before his sudden death.
"He loved nothing more than being with his wife and family, including being a proud Poppy to his four young grandchildren. He will be sadly missed within the community of Coleraine and beyond. He was a gentle man and a gentleman, an exceptional people person whose goodness and friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew him, especially his family."
Tributes to Mr Anderson poured in on social media.
Coleraine Historical Society NI expressed their "deep sadness" at his passing, adding: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the Anderson family and Robert's many friends & colleagues."
The organisation said that the launch of its annual publication The Bann Disc, of which Mr Anderson was editor, would go ahead last night with his family's blessing.
Portrush Lifeboat Station extended their "sincere condolences" to the Anderson family and described Mr Anderson as "a gentleman and a scholar". They added: "He will be sadly missed."
The crew of the Causeway Lass said that they were "sorry to hear of the passing of our harbour master Robert Anderson".
Former Justice Minister, MLA Claire Sugden, expressed her "sincere condolences" to Mr Anderson's family and friends.
She said: "Past, present and future, Robert knew, loved and celebrated Coleraine. He brought to life a rich, local history that many of us can only imagine.
"Through talking about history, he made his own and will be remembered fondly for his knowledge and love of our area."
Mr Anderson's funeral will be private. An open invitation celebration will take place in the next few weeks to mark his life.