Obituary: TA Commander Eric Dale survived eight heart attacks

Colonel Eric Dale, former TA man, pictured at his home in 1988.
Colonel Eric Dale, former TA man, pictured at his home in 1988.
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OBE-holder Eric Dale was a long-serving member of the TA and an Army Cadets commandant.

Col Dale had been born on March 2, 1937 in Portadown to Jack and Elsie Dale.

In his early days he was a reporter at the Portadown News, but later went on to establish the Daleway Motoring School along with his father Jack in 1959 – something which is still going today, under control of his son Andrew.

The same year also saw him make another momentous decision – he opted to become a part-time soldier.

His widow Serena – nee Maxwell, who married him in September 1973 – said he had been commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.

His posts and roles changed over the years as he rose through the ranks, and in 1976 he was made Commanding Officer of 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers, with rank of Lt Colonel.

He was then appointed in 1980 as Commandant of Armagh and Down Army Cadet Force, with the rank of Colonel, retiring in 1988.

During the course of his military career, he had been given a Territorial Decoration medal for reaching his 20th year of service, as well as an OBE for services to the TA.

He retired from driver training in 2005 and had more time to pursue his interests, which included being chairman of the Edenderry Cultural and Historical Society, and his membership of the local branch of the UUP.

He was also a member of Ballyleny Orange Lodge, and a frequent attender at Seagoe Parish Church.

Since the mid-80s, he had battled cardio-vascular disease, surviving no fewer than eight heart attacks.

He died at the Royal Victorial Hospital on March 21, after suffering a ninth cardiac arrest. He was 77.

His funeral was on March 24 at Seagoe Parish Church, and widow Serena estimated that around 400 attended the service. He was buried in the adjoining church yard.

He is survived by Serena, sons Andrew and Richard, daughters-in-law Emma and Suzanne, grandchildren Sarah-Jayne, Ben and Thomas, brother John and sister Evelyn.