Dromore couple die within days of each other and are buried together

Dr Victor and Jane Sterling
Dr Victor and Jane Sterling

A respected GP and his wife from Dromore, Co Down died within days of each other and were buried together yesterday.

Dr Victor Sterling died on Friday from a heart attack aged 96. His wife, Jane, 93, died early yesterday only hours before his funeral, after a long illness.

Their joint funeral service was held at First Dromore Presbyterian Church.

“We thought mum would have died about a week ago but when she heard that dad had gone into hospital with a heart attack, she began to fret for him,” their daughter Jan told the News Letter.

“Then when she heard he had died she relaxed and succumbed too.

“The undertaker called us this morning [Sunday] and asked would we like to bury them both at the same time. I asked my daughter and she said, ‘mum, that would be lovely’ so that was it, we decided to go ahead and do it.

“Most people who turned up to the funeral were shocked to see two coffins instead of one.”

One former patient of Dr Sterling’s told the News Letter he was “a very good doctor who was very on the ball and very attentive to his patients”.

Victor’s father owned Sterling’s chemist in Dromore which was later passed on to Jan’s brother, Jimmy.

Victor retired 36 years ago at 60.

“In those days the GP had to diagnose what was wrong before they sent patients to hospital,” Jan said.

Some 50 years ago he diagnosed one patient with leukaemia and another with polio of the throat when the symptoms had other doctors at a loss.

He retired to Newcastle and played golf until he was 87, and suffered knee problems. And he continued driving until he was 90, which he gave up when he could no longer tell the difference between green and red traffic lights.

Three years ago the couple moved to Banbridge, where Jan lives, so she could give them more support.

“Mum worked in fashion retail in Lisburn and had been invited to set up her own business by the bank, who offered her a loan.

“But she turned them down, saying she did not have any debt. Then she had six kids one year after each other.

“Dad had wanted to be a surgeon but on the day he graduated the Dromore GP had to leave for war and they asked him to step in. He went to go back to surgery but the people of Dromore did not want him to let him go.

“But he has passed his medical brains on to two of his grandchildren,” Jan added.

“Aaron Nagar is a consultant microbiologist and Jenna Stevenson, my daughter, specialises with children.”