Mrs Doris Iris Black, wife of the late Alastair Black, passed away on December 25, in her 100th year.
Mrs Black, always known as Iris, led a full and eventful life and continued to be active and make new friends until the very end of her life.
She was born on June 1, 1915 in Derby, to parents Percy and Ada Taylor (nee Barker). Her father (who played the violin professionally until marriage forced him to seek more regular employment) was a civil servant and in 1920 the family moved to Tottenham in London where he became manager of the local labour exchange. She had two younger brothers (Philip and John) and one younger sister (Pat) all of whom are still alive.
She attended Tottenham High School for Girls. Unusually for those days, she travelled extensively to the continent and in particular Germany in the years leading up to the Second World War. Remarkably she was on holiday with a friend in Germany in September 1939 when she was advised by the manager of the hotel where she was staying that she should leave immediately as the situation had deteriorated and war was imminent.
She escaped from Germany on one of the last civilian trains permitted to leave.
Her love of travel continued into her late 70s and early 80s with trips to the continent often accompanied by an old school friend from Tottenham, Margaret Lowe, and also on occasion with her daughter Alison.
Her initial employment was as a civil servant in a tax office in London. Her office was evacuated to Blackpool at an early stage of the war but after a few months she returned to London where she lived through and survived the Blitz with a number of narrow escapes from the V1s and V2s.
During her time in Blackpool she met Alastair Black, then an officer in the RAF. They were married in Tottenham in 1943. Following the War they moved to Lurgan in 1946 where her husband was first a teacher in Carrick Primary School and then headmaster.
Iris worked as a proof reader for the Lurgan Mail in the late 50s and early 60s. In following years she worked in the Tax Office in Belfast, and finally, until her mid 70s, in the Law Courts in Belfast.
Her husband, Alastair, was a prominent Unionist politician, and like so many others came under threat from the IRA during their terror campaign. On one occasion a booby trap bomb was placed in his office desk which exploded and killed a police officer investigating what appeared to be a break-in. She supported her husband staunchly and believed that after living through the London Blitz she could face anything the IRA could do with comparative equanimity.
Iris Black played a full and active part in the life of the community. She was member (and secretary) of the local Business and Professional Women’s organisation for 30 years. She was also a member of the local Combat Cancer Committee, both organising and collecting. She was a member for many years of the Woman’s Loyal Orange Order and was active in local unionist circles in support of her husband. She also assisted any of her friends who had become infirm or housebound, running errands for them and collecting pensions, and continued to do this into her early 90s.
Her life and character is probably best summed up in the words of a close friend in a letter of sympathy to her family.
“She was generous and kind, well-read and intelligent, non-judgemental and had a terrific sense of humour. Her greatest concern was always for others, particularly for the wellbeing of her family as it grew over the years.
“I enjoyed her company so much. She always made me laugh when we met and we had many happy times together. Hers was a life well lived and it has been both a privilege and a joy to know her.”
Mrs Black was laid to rest iat Scarva Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 28. She is survived by her children Philip, Douglas, John and Alison, her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.