Joe Lavery: Co Derry housing officer gave his family the greatest gift of all
FAMILY was Joe Lavery's life.
His world revolved around his wife Christine, his five children and eight grandchildren.
At home he wasn't 'Dad' or 'Granddad' - just 'Joe', at his request.
Fr John Gates told his funeral in Magherafelt that he gave them the greatest gift of all - the gift of time.
"He wanted to hear about all that was happening in their lives. He dearly loved his grandchildren and was always surrounded by them," he said.
"At family gatherings the adults would all be in one room and Joe would be with the children in another, sharing in their tea parties and getting into their dolls' houses."
Joe himself was one of six children, born in Belfast's Short Stand in 1952 to Charlie and Rita Lavery.
It was during a visit to relatives in Toome that he went to a dance in Hillhead AOH Hall and met Christine Marshall, the love of his life.
They were married in 1977 and lived in Cargin before settling in Castledawson, first in Parker Avenue and then Oak Lane.
Joe's first work was as a civil servant in Stormont but he spent the rest of his career with the Housing Executive in Magherafelt.
A witty man, with a natural way with people, he enjoyed being out and about meeting tenants.
"There were no no-go areas for Joe - he went into any estates," Fr Gates said.
"He built many connections throughout the community. In his own quiet way he made a deep and lasting impression on all those who came into contact with him."
Joe was also at the centre of parish life.
He used to open and lock up Milltown church each Sunday and was a member of the pastoral council, a Eucharistic minister, a church collector and a Friend of St Mary's and faithful supporter of the school.
He was a man of great faith and prayer, and the family would kneel together to say the rosary at home each night.
Joe's other interests included stamp collecting and nature - he loved to feed the birds and be taken on walks by his dog Lotto.
He was extremely well read and had a gift for languages, with a particular interest in Irish.
He also learned Swahili after son Colum spent time in Africa and even in his final days was learning Filipino from the nurses in hospital.
Patrick Joseph Lavery died aged 64 on June 19.
He is survived by his wife Christine, children Ciarán, Shauna, Colum, Declan and Connor, brothers and sisters Jimmy, Mary, Kathleen, Peter and Sean and family circle.