Ivor will leave behind a legacy

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IVOR John Mitchell was a straight-talking man who will leave behind a legacy in terms of the buildings he designed and the lives he touched.

He sadly passed away at the age of 78 on September 15 at home surrounded by his loving family.

Ivor was born on June 25, 1934 to Eileen and Jack. Ivor, the eldest of three children, grew up in Lurgan and attended Lurgan Model and Lurgan College, where he was Head Boy in 1951/52.

It was at the College where Ivor developed as a rugby player and a cricketer, captaining both teams.

After college Ivor went to work with Houston & Beaumont, which later became the Colin Deane Partnership. Ivor had been one of the two remaining partners.

It was when he was working as an architect in London that Ivor met his future wife Judy from Sunbury on Thames.

Ivor and Judy married in London before moving back to Northern Ireland. They were due to celebrate the 49th wedding anniversary on November 2.

Ivor designed the family home in Franklyn Park on the Gilford Road, but not before the family had a spent few years in The Grange in Loughgall.

While their house was being built in Franklyn Park, Ivor and Judy lived in Housing Executive houses in Taghnevan and Sunningdale.

The couple have two children - Jonathan and Joanna - and three grandchildren - Pablo, Zach and the late Conor.

As an architect Ivor took great pride in his work. He was responsible for designing a number of local landmarks including St Saviour’s Church in Dollingstown and Craigavon Hospital. He was also behind the architecture for the renewal at Lismore School and much of Pinebank.

He considered it an honour to have designed two buildings for organisations which held a place in his heart. He drew up the plans for Lurgan Rugby Football and Cricket Club’s clubhouse at Pollock Park and the Salvation Army Citadel in Union Street.

Another of the buildings which he designed - Ian Milne’s Chapel of Rest at Lurgan Cemetery - was to be his final resting place.

He’d been semi-retired in recent years, but Judy said he’d only stopped drawing a few weeks ago when he became too ill.

Ivor was an inspiration to many - some admired his straight talking while others were intrigued by his simple, strong architectural designs.

The Lurgan man had a passion for music and he found an outlet through the Salvation Army.

His wife Judy said: “He originally would have liked to have been in music as a conductor or a composer. In the end it was architecture that proved more practical.”

Ivor came from a musical family. In particular his uncle John, who was an officer in the Salvation Army along with his wife Eva, was a big influence on Ivor with regards to music and the Salvation Army.

Ivor was a member of the Salvation Army and was particularly involved in the musical side of the Christian organisation.

He was bandmaster for a number of years and sang in the songsters as well as playing cornet.

Ivor was a keen sportsman and in his latter years a strong supporter of grassroots rugby and cricket.

He was a former president of Lurgan Rugby Club in 1978/79 and also served on a number of committees.

He loved to get children involved in sport, including his own.

Joanna recalled: “Every summer he would take us out to play cricket. That included myself and Jonathan and all the local kids. My dad would bowl and we didn’t stand a chance.”

She added: “We were encouraged to join in with dad’s interests. He used to accompany me on the piano while I sang.”

Ivor also took an interest in his daughter Joanna’s husband John Heverin’s cycling career. John competes for Clann Eireann and Ivor kept tabs on the results of all his races.

Joanna said she will always remember her dad in terms of his love of his grandson Conor where his generosity knew no bounds.

Ivor and his family are great lovers of animals and have given homes to a number of rescued pets. Ivor was a familiar sight on the Gilford Road taking his two black Labradors for a walk. They are named Ry and Cooder after his grandson Conor’s favourite musician.

Ivor also loved to go to Rathlin to visit his son Jonathan, his wife Ann and their children.

Not surprisingly, it was the Lurgan man who ensured the designs for Jonathan’s house in Rathlin got planning permission.

Ivor was a well-read man, who although not particularly religious, enjoyed reading about theology and politics in order to remain enlightened.

He was a loyal friend and he socialised with a ‘coffee drinking fraternity’ which including Alvin McMurray, Alec Hamilton, Phillip Jones, Jim Stewart and Victor Malcomson.

Joanna said: “They were great friends who liked to trawl the local cafes and set the world to rights over a cup of coffee.”

Another of Ivor long-standing friends was Lawrance Wilson who he used to sing duets with in the Salvation Army band.

Even though Ivor’s funeral was private there were well over 100 people at the service at Ian Milne’s Chapel of Rest on Tuesday, September 18.

Ivor is buried in Lurgan Cemetery with his grandson Conor and his mother-in-law.

His wife Judy said: “Life with Ivor was never dull. He was a great character and will be so greatly missed by all of us.”