The congregation of Macosquin Presbyterian Church in County Londonderry has mourned the passing of senior minister Rev Victor Whyte, who passed away on November 27.
Tributes at his funeral service were led by close friend and colleague Rev Harry Allen, former Presbyterian Moderator, for whom he had acted as Moderator’s Assistant in the 1990s.
Mr Allen said in the course of his tribute that Rev Whyte had “loved his Lord, his wife and his family; he loved his ministry, where and when it was needed; he loved this congregation and its people amongst whom he had spent his whole ministry”.
Rev Whyte was born in 1927, one of 10 children of Joseph Whyte and Agnes Harbinson who lived at Little Derry outside Limavady, close to Balteagh Presbyterian Church, to which they belonged. Only one of the family, Harry, now remains and is living in Canada.
Victor Whyte left school at the age of 14 years and began his working life in the well-known firm of Tweedy Acheson’s in Limavady.
He was saved in 1944 and had a strong sense of calling, which took him to the Faith Mission in Edinburgh for two years.
He then served for two years as assistant to John Moore at the Tent Hall in Glasgow.
After moving back to Northern Ireland, Rev Whyte served for two years with the Irish Evangelisation Society but desired to enter the Presbyterian Church ministry and studied with this purpose in mind at Renshaw’s College, Queen’s University and Assembly’s College.
The congregation of Macosquin issued a call, their minister Rev Drew Leitch having moved to Dublin, and Rev Whyte was ordained and installed there on October 27, 1964, serving faithfully until his retirement in 1992.
Appointed chaplain to Coleraine Hospital on the retirement of Rev David Hanna, his ministry there spanned 30 years and was to prove effective and helpful to patients, relatives and staff alike.
In his tribute, Rev Allen said that in October 1994 when he had cardiac surgery, Victor Whyte had agreed to come out of retirement and look after New Row Presbyterian Church congregation during the recuperation period. In 1996-97 when Rev Allen was called to be Moderator, his colleague again came out of retirement to be the Moderator’s Assistant.
“I knew the congregation was in good hands and he did a great job,” Mr Allen told those at the service.
During his time as minister at Macosquin, Mr Whyte was involved in different work with the church and hall buildings, culminating in the building of the new hall.
While preaching in Northern Ireland in the 1950s, Victor met Muriel Elizabeth Gaston, his future wife, and the couple were married in 1955 in Ballygowan.
They had two children, Derek and Sheena, who live in England and South Africa with their respective families.
Rev Whyte had been in failing health in recent times and passed away peacefully at Cornfield Care Home in Limavady.
The service of thanksgiving for his life was held at Macosquin Presbyterian Church on December 2.
He is survived by his wife Muriel, son Derek and daughter Sheena, daughter-in-law Jill and son-in-law Alan, grandchildren Joy, Henhry, Sipho, Sihle and Nzuzo and step-grandchildren Matthew, Naomi, and Peter.