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Obituary: Dr Ian Brick, East Belfast boy who made fortune by founding a pharmaceutical firm

By Alf McCreary

An east Belfast multi-millionaire who made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry in America has died.

Dr Ian Brick died on July 5 aged 72 after a long battle with cancer.

Dr Brick was born in Belfast, in 1942, to humble beginnings in a two-up, two-down house with an outside toilet in Rosebery Street.

He was the son of an insurance salesman and grandson of an east Belfast joiner, who worked in the shipyard and on the construction of Parliament Buildings at Stormont.

In 1959, at the remarkably young age of 16, he went to Queen's University, Belfast, initially to study medicine, but later transferring to physiology, graduating with honours in 1964 and gaining his PhD in pharmacology in 1967.

It is as president of the Students' Union that 'Brickie' is best remembered and it was then that he met his beloved Katherine. He later donated $1million to Queen's to renovate the Students' Union, and the union bar, Brickie's, was named after them.

An inseparable pair, Ian and Katherine moved to England after their wedding in 1968. They lived there for 10 years, having three children, while Ian rose rapidly through the ranks of ICI.

In 1977 the family moved to Dublin and Ian started work for ICP. A career opportunity with the company took the family to the United States in December 1984.

They lived in Connecticut for two years until Ian began working in Nashville in 1987, which became their home base. In 1990 Ian founded the company Pharmaceutical Laboratory Services (PLS) in Baltimore, Maryland, which he eventually sold in 1994 and began an early retirement.

After many years of hard work, Ian and Katherine began travelling and meeting friends in every country. They became very involved in the Nashville community, helping to twin Belfast and Nashville as sister cities in 1996.

Ian was also a founding member of Queen's University's Foundation Board, where he worked to raise $160m and remained active with the university until Katherine's untimely death in 2008.

In 2011, Ian was honoured for his service to Northern Ireland education services by being appointed an officer of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Ian received the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace, accompanied by his children and sister, Jacqueline.

Ian was a passionate and devoted family man, never happier than when he was surrounded by the people he loved best.

Ian's heart was still broken from wife Katherine's death seven years ago.

He is survived by his children, son Michael (Krista) and daughters Karen Werthan and Claire (Jon) Corby as well as eight grandchildren who he adored, and adored him: Shannon Guerreno, Micaela Brick, Lindsey Brick, Conor Corby, Jack Brick, Patrick Brick, Declan Werthan and Cian Corby, and sister Jacqueline (Ronnie) Graham, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

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