Heartbreak at joint funeral service for John and Sylvia McKee

Sylvia and John McKee
Sylvia and John McKee
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  • John died last night - a day before his wife’s funeral
  • Joint funeral held today in their home town
  • Couple were involved in a two vehicle crash in Portadown on August 4

A large congregation paid their final respects today to husband and wife John and Sylvia McKee, who died after a crash in Portadown on August 4.

It was heartbreaking with only Sylvia’s coffin at Seagoe Parish Church. Her husband had died in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital the night before her funeral and the Service of Thanksgiving was for them both.

Sylvia had died at the scene of the crash at the Northway. The couple had been travelling home from a friend’s wake when the collision happened. The 54-year-old driver of the other vehicle was arrested at the scene and is currently on police bail.

Officiating, Canon Terence Cadden said; “Today is undoubtedly a sad day.

“It has not been easy for the family, thinking of them trying to set a date for Sylvia’s funeral and John passing last evening,” he said.

He explained that while Sylvia’s remains were at the church, the service was for both of them and, while John’s remains could not be present, there will be a private burial for him at a later date.

“We can only try to imagine what the family have been going through in the past week and what they are going through now. We have lost one but not both parents at the same time. But for you, the loved ones of John and Sylvia, you alone know what you are going through.”

John was born in 1943 in Poyntzpass, the son of Joe and Emma McKee and one of seven children. He went to school in Poyntzpass and Markethill.

Sylvia (72) was born in Carrickdale Gardens off the Tandragee Road and moved with her parents to the newly built Killicomaine in 1953. The family home is still there, where her brother resides.

The daughter of Joseph and Gladys Clulow, Sylvia has two sisters and a brother, Shirley, Victor and Millie.

In her youth she went to Edenderry School and then Killicomaine Junior High School.

Canon Cadden described them both as a ‘hard working couple’.

John worked in Tayto and later in the Camelot Bar in Portadown. He also worked at the Oakland factory and De Lorean cars - a job he particularly enjoyed. Since then and until his retirement he did security work.

“He did long hours, seven days a week, 12 hour shifts right up until his retirement,” he said.

The Canon revealed the couple met on a blind date in 1970. “John must have been very keen as he lived in Poyntzpass and walked to Portadown to meet Sylvia. He walked every day of the week except Thursday and told her he washed his hair on a Thursday. The real reason was because money was scarce and by Thursday he had run out.”

The couple got married in 1984 and in July 7th past they celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.

Canon Cadden said Sylvia hadn’t changed much in recent years but John had not been well in recent years and ‘it had started to tell on him’.

The couple had three children Nicola, Sanya and Stephen. Tragically Sanya died suddenly in Poland six years ago while on holiday.

Sylvia adored her grandchildren, Sharon, Gemma, Stuart, Kris, Demi, Isha, Jason, Chloe-Anne, Tyler and Zara as well as her great grandchildren Tia, Levi, Katie and Sam.

Like many of her generation she worked as a stitcher in Spence Bryson, Ulster Laces and the Mayfair factories in her home town.

She also worked in Oakland Foods and Robinson Foods before taking up a post at the Camelot Bar in the town centre,

Later she worked at Unidare and, though she retired at 60, she returned to work a couple of days a week in the canteen.

Both were big Country Music fans with John a fan of Michael English and Sylvia a fan of Roly Daniels.

Sylvia loved walking while Michael enjoyed gardening until his ill health. Both enjoyed their foreign holidays and were huge fans of Liverpool FC.

Mrs McKee was buried in the Seagoe Parish Church graveyard. A private burial for Mr McKee will be held at a later date.

This afternoon a PSNI spokesperson said: “Police can confirm that 74 year old John McKee sadly passed away in hospital, on Monday 12th August, due to injuries sustained in a road traffic collision on the Northway in Portadown on Sunday 4th August. John’s wife, Sylvia McKee, aged 72, died at the scene of the collision on Sunday. Mr and Mrs McKee were from the Portadown area.

“A 54 year old man arrested at the scene is currently on police bail pending further enquiries whilst the investigation into the collision continues. Witnesses or anyone who may have captured dashcam footage of the collision is asked to contact officers at the Collision Investigation Unit on 101.”