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‘True gentleman’ laid to rest after weekend tragedy

A WIDELY-respected retired civil engineer who died in tragic circumstances on a mountainside near Omagh at the weekend has been laid to rest.

Harry Alexander (73), who lived several miles outside Omagh on Gortin Road, went missing when he was riding a scrambler motorbike on Saturday.

The grandfather, who had served as an elder at First Omagh Presbyterian Church for more than 30 years, had been out in the area of Mullaghcarn mountain, close to Gortin Glens, with three friends.

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The alarm was raised after Mr Alexander became detached from the rest of the group.

On Saturday evening, a search operation, involving the PSNI, the North West Mountain Rescue Team (NWMRT) and the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA), was launched.

Some time later, members of the mountain rescue team recovered his body. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the NWMRT doctor on Saturday night.

A post mortem was carried out on the remains on Monday.

It is understood that the preliminary findings determined that Mr Alexander had suffered a heart attack.

Rev Jane Nelson, minister of First Omagh Presbyterian Church, said that his family, members of the congregation and the wider community had all been left devastated by the sudden death of a “true gentleman”.

The clergywoman, who had worked with Mr Alexander closely since taking up her post in Omagh, said, “I’ll remember him as a man of deep Christian faith who lived his life well and was someone others would turn to for advice and encouragement.

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“He always had time for people and loved to hear their stories. Christianity ran through him.”

His funeral service was held in First Omagh yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, followed by private interment at Cappagh Parish Churchyard.

He is survived by his wife Diana, daughters Helen and Joan, grand-daughters Ella-Jane and Martha-Marie, brother Billy and the wider family circle.

The two brothers had founded a civil engineering firm in Glenhordial more than 40 years ago.

Since 1972, WH Alexander Plant and Civil Engineering Ltd has delivered many landmark schemes across the UK and Ireland from its base on Waterworks Road.

In 2006, Harry and Billy retired from the business and they were succeeded by the second generation of the Alexander family.

Well-known for his deep Christian faith, Mr Alexander had been installed and ordained as an elder at First Omagh in 1983. He remained dedicated to his pastoral responsibilities for the rest of his life.

Mr Alexander was very involved in First Omagh’s Sunday School and also made some good friends as an active member of the Omagh Churches Forum.

Outside of his church duties, he was an excellent painter, but his real passion was for motorbikes.

“He loved being up in the mountains and would regularly go with his friends,” Rev Nelson added.

The minister said that the Alexander family greatly valued the support they had received from local families, the PSNI and the mountain rescue teams.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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