Large funeral for father of Jim Wells, 94

Former Health Minister Jim Wells has paid tribute to his father, who has passed away at the age of 94.

Samuel Henry ‘Harry’ Wells died peacefully at his home on the Old Kilmore Road, Moira on Thursday.

He is survived by his wife Doreen, and children Jim, Geoffrey, Arnold, Norma and Adrian.

“It was expected but it was extremely peaceful with his family all around him,” said DUP MLA Mr Wells.

“His breathing just went down and down then stopped.”

His father’s declining health had been the reason he had not stood for election in June, he said.

“I just could see this coming and we had a couple of scares at the start of the year. We think it was possibly pneumonia at the end.”

Long life seems to be in the Wells genes, he added.

“The Wells grave has not been opened since 1945.”

His father’s brothers “are still going strong”.

He puts longevity in his family line down to good genes, an aversion to smoking and drinking and long marriages,

“My parents were married for 61 years. The telegram from the Queen to mark their 60th wedding anniversary sits very proudly on their mantelpiece.”

The couple had five children, nine grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren.

His mother Doreen, now 85, had been the full time carer for his father for the past four years.

They met in a sweet shop in Muckamore when Mr Wells’s father went to collect his brother from Greenmount Agricultural College.

The two brothers met the two sisters in the shop.

“One took one sister out and the other took the other sister out.”

Only Jim’s father and mother’s romance persisted though, he said.

His father farmed beef and barley at the family farm in Moira for 71 years.

“My brother still runs the family farm, still farming beef and barley. It has changed very little.”

His father had been a very fit man, he said.

“The doctor said in recent times that he had the heart of a 23-year-old.

“He worked so hard on the farm that he worked himself out.”

His overriding interest in life was always farming,

The funeral at St John’s Parish Church in Moira took place on Sunday. “There was a big crowd of about 300 people. A lot of DUP backbenchers attended which was very much appreciated.”