Portadown businessman Sam Hewitt enjoyed a colourful life well-lived

Sam Hewitt as drawn by Billy Austin.
Sam Hewitt as drawn by Billy Austin.

When Sam Hewitt ran the Superglaze firm in Bridge Street, Portadown, everyone knew him as ‘Super Sam’.

And that is how he will be remembered as hundreds of his friends mourn his passing.

Sam died in Craigavon Hospital on Sunday afternoon after a brief illness and as family and friends reflect on a colourful life well-lived they will all remember Sam with much affection.

Sam was 83 and he and his wife, Margaret, lived at Annahugh House, Kilmore, one of the oldest houses in County Armagh.

Sam, the third child of Norman and Jean Hewitt, was raised on a farm at Moneypennys and it was there that his love for the outdoor life was nurtured. He would often recall his early days there, telling stories of sailing to Portadown along the canal on his canoe and spending hours in the fields observing the wildlife along the river banks.

It was there too that his spirit of adventure developed which ultimately led to a career in the Royal Air Force and a posting to Germany where he served for three years, developing a love for that country.

That career was relived when the family gave him a trip in a Spitfire for his 80th birthday and Sam was delighted when the trip was featured on Anne Marie McAleese’s Radio Ulster programme Your Place and Mine.

Having obtained a pilot’s licence earlier in life he enjoyed lots of flying time from Aldergrove and there were frequent trips to the Isle of Man with his wife, Margaret, and daughter Claire.

As a child and teenager Sam developed a close relationship with local horse dealers, the Hamill family, and this gave him the opportunity to ride horses, which became a life-long passion, passed on to daughter Claire and grandchildren Olivia and Rocco.

Family was the most important aspect of Sam’s life and he and Margaret had three children, Claire, born in 1972, Reuben in i978 and Samuel in 1980. He was totally devoted to them, opening up opportunities for each of them to pursue a range of activities ranging from horse-riding to fishing and motor bikes and all sorts of watersports. And although Samuel was based in England there was nothing he enjoyed more than to arrive at Annahugh House and see his children play with the model trains Sam had so lovingly built.

Because of his love for horses Sam was involved in the founding of the Armagh Horse and Pony Club and instigated pony camps for children in the Mourne Mountains. Until recently he was a constant supporter of grandchildren Robin, Alex and Jude at rugby and cricket.

Sam’s career was as colourful as his life. On leaving the Air Force he worked at Quintin Castle in Portaferry as the land steward where he continued his horse riding and began to sail and fish in Strangford Lough. Then he was a car salesman with Allens Automart, where he formed a lasting friendship with the owner, George Allen, and John Ford; he dabbled for a while as a carpet salesman with Cyril Lord’s Carpets, then there was a spell as a paint salesman in Bridge Street before he went into business on his own with the Superglaze business in Meadow Lane. And all the while Sam’s infectious enthusiasm for whatever he did warmed him to everyone with whom he came in contact, forming a close relationship with the late Victor Locke who had emigrated to Hong Kong.

Debonair Sam was an immaculate dresser and had a wardrobe to fit every occasion, whether it was a wedding, a funeral, a formal invitation or a sporting occasion and he stood out from a crowd with his sleek, silver hair.

He was also a car enthusiast, his interest having been fostered at Allen’s Automart and he cut a dash as he enjoyed top-range sports cars over the years.

Travel was another of his passions and he had been to Vietnam, Africa, America, where he toured the Grand Canyon, Thailand, Hong Kong andChina

But Sam will be best remembered for his friendship and there have been many tributes to him. He enjoyed his weeklylunch date with a group of friends, a get-together that been going on for some 50 years and one of that gathering, Ron Mullen, said, “Sam was a one-off. He was a wonderful friend and he always had the ability to brighten any gathering, no matter the circumstances. He will be sadly missed.”

Retired school headmaster Jim Smart’s friendship with Sam goes back over 70 years and Jim said, “Sam was a frequent visitor to our house in Mandeville Street where my father ran a potato business. My mother always had the teapot on and we enjoyed seeing Sam arrive and giving us a bit of the fun that was part of his character.”

Sam brought fun no matter where he went but he had his serious side too and his RAF training in discipline and decorum could come into play when the occasion demanded. He was comfortable in any gathering and was equally at home discussing world affairs or more mundane matters at home. People like George Allen, Ralph Loney and Mervyn Gilpin, all known for their Christian views, were among Sam’s best friends, even though he didn’t share all their views, but there was mutual respect on all sides and their friendship grew over the years.

“Sam was a deep thinker and liked to argue his case,” said Mervyn. “I don’t think we ever saw eye to eye but we had a friendship that could never be broken and we all held him in the highest regard.”

Sam is survived by his wife, Margaret, daughter Claire, sons Reuben and Samuel, son-in-law Mark, daughters-in-law Zara and Lucy grandchildren Robin, Olivia, Alex, Rocco, Jude, Charlie and William, sister, Jeanette and brother Trevor.

The funeral is to Roselawn Crematorium on Friday at 5pm and donations in lieu of flowers are to Help the Heroes, c/oJoseph Poots funeral directors, 42, Bridge Street, Portadown. BT63 5RA

The family wishes to place on record their sincere thanks to the doctors and nurses at Craigavon Hospital for all their care and attention to Sam during his short stay there.