OBITUARY: David Baird was a devoted loyal order master and broad-minded unionist

David 'Davy' Baird
David 'Davy' Baird

David Baird was both a veteran of the loyal orders and of his church.

In addition to his religious life, the lifelong farmer was also an active grassroots member of the UUP.

He was buried last month in the same graveyard he had been in charge of looking after for much of his life.

Born on May 23, 1932, in Newry, he was the son of William and Ruby, the latter of whom died when he was aged just three.

Educated at Newry Model, he joined his father in the butchery business until taking up farming in the Banbridge area in his late teens.

The farm initially dealt with pigs, then later cows and horses (which he would show at Balmoral).

He was a very committed member of Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church, and widow Margaret – whom he wed in 1962 – said he scarcely ever missed a service.

He also served on its committee for 40 years,with particular responsibility for the care of its cemetery.

Mr Baird had been both a master of Brague LOL 427, and a master of the Royal Black Preceptory’s 402 branch.

He also chaired the Loughbrickland Unionist Association, and was on friendly terms with towering Upper Bann figures such as Harold McCusker and David Trimble.

While a staunch unionist, his widow added: “He was very tolerant of all different kinds of religions – he listened to other people’s points of view... Catholics, Protestants; it didn’t make any difference to him.”

His family said he never truly retired from farming, and would assist and direct his sons on the farm.

Death came suddenly on January 21; while mixing up milk solution to feed his animals, he collapsed of a heart attack. He was 82.

He was not a smoker, and though he had suffered an attack 25 years earlier, had been in good health since.

His funeral service on January 23 at the roughly-400 capacity Loughbrickland church drew an estimated 600 mourners, and he was then buried in the graveyard he had tended to loyally for decades.

Margaret received more than 100 condolence cards in the wake of his death.

He is survived by sons David and John, daughter Ruby, and 12 grandchildren.