Former Alliance Party deputy leader, David Sommerville Cook, who in 1978 became Lord Mayor of Belfast, believed in bringing a voice of the middle ground of politics.
Born in England on January 25 1944, he moved to Northern Ireland with his parents and sisters after his father was appointed headmaster of Campbell College in Belfast in 1954.
His political career began in his 20s when he was a founder member of the Alliance Party in 1970. It was eight years later in two nights of high drama in Belfast City Council when he wrote his name indelibly in the political history of that institution.
Two Faulknerite unionists held the balance of power and their votes were enough to give victory to Mr Cook by the narrowest of margins, 26-25. The following month when the council met to ratify his appointment — which normally went through on the nod — the unionist block called for a recorded vote. A member of the nationalist side of the chamber was missing and it took a lengthy filibuster by SDLP leader Gerry Fitt to ensure the vote was delayed until the missing member entered the chamber and restored Mr Cook’s majority. It was a victory which even made the pages of the New York Times.
A solicitor by profession, he rose to become a senior partner in his 30s of the firm Sheldon and Stewart in Belfast where he practiced for 49 years.
He put his legal expertise to use when he brought proceedings against Belfast City Council and other councils in 1986 and 1987 following their unlawful protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement and obtained High Court orders compelling them to perform their statutory duties.
He also brought a libel case after he and journalist Chris Ryder were sacked by the then Secretary of State after losing votes of no confidence in the Police Authority, where he served as chairman from 1994 to 1996. The split with the Authority came after debate about the pace and manner of change in police reform.
He was deputy leader of Alliance from 1980 to 1984 and fought a number of elections in the South Belfast constituency.
Mr Cook believed the middle ground must have a political voice even in the worst of times in the 1970s and 80s. He stood in the February 1974 general election, taking just under 10% of the vote.
He was able to improve to 27% of the vote at the 1982 South Belfast by-election. Following this, he won a seat on the Northern Ireland Assembly representing South Belfast. In the 1983 general election, 1986 by-election and 1987 general election, he won over 20% of the votes cast in the constituency.
He also stood in the 1984 European Parliament election, but took only 4% of the vote as the larger parties took the three seats.
Away from politics he was founder and long time thair of the NI Voluntary Trust, now known as the Community Foundation for NI and spent long periods fundraising for the organisation which helped hundreds of community organisations. He also served two terms as chairman of Craigavon and Banbridge community health and social care trust.
He was also a member of the Valance Marie Trust for 30 years for his old Cambridge college, Pembroke.
In his private life he enjoyed countryside pursuits including hunting with the West Down Beagles. Donegal was a favourite holiday destination and he was an avid reader with a special interest in history.
He died from Covid-19 on Saturday at Craigavon Area Hospital. He had suffered a stroke two years previously.
He is survived by his wife Fionnuala, children Barbary, John, Patrick, Julius and Dominic and granddaughters Romy and Imogen and sisters Alison and Nora.