WHILE his passing will be mostly felt at home, where he leaves a grieving wife and four daughters, Denis Lynn's untimely death sent shockwaves through the Downpatrick factories he'd built from the ground up.
As news of the tragedy filtered through to workers arriving for their early shifts yesterday, many were reduced to tears, dumbstruck at the suddenness of it all.
Denis Lynn was more than a boss. He was a trail-blazer, an innovator, entrepreneur and visionary. And he was never afraid to get his hands dirty, regularly donning the white coat and hairnet to step on to the production line.
“I came up the hard way,” he told me on a particularly memorable visit to his Downpatrick headquarters three years ago with my editor Noel Doran.
Such was Denis's pride in his factory, that our seemingly hours-long tour incorporated every nook and cranny, including the security guard room, toilets and rooftop garden, and it seemed like we also had a running commentary on every sausage coming off every machine.
“I was expelled from Sullivan Upper School at 15, so had to think on my feet, working as a salesman and a food distributor,” he recalled.
“But from that early age, I knew working for myself was the right way to go and I got into buying processed food and selling it to cafes and restaurants.”
He started the Finnebrogue business in 1985, and as well as the impact made by his food innovations down through the years as the firm went from a handful of staff to nearly 1,000, Denis also had an extraordinary personality, which set him apart from others in his field.
Of course, business life - and the fact that like many true entrepreneurs he didn't always do things strictly by the book - wasn't unerringly plain sailing, and Denis did have his run-ins with the authorities, with politicians and some in the media.
But he was lauded by the great and the good of the food world (Heston Blumenthal was a fan of Finnebrogue produce for his Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire) as well as by the major retailers like M&S and Asda, to whom him company supplied literally millions of its meat products.
He was especially proud of the jobs he created in Downpatrick, which of course enabled him to enjoy the trappings of success and millionairehood (he had a collection of vintage and rare vehicles which he'd regularly rock up to work in).
Denis once also told me: “My business sustains hundreds of livelihoods, produces some of the best food anywhere in the world and is a fun and stimulating place to work.
“People all develop at different stages. Many of us were disruptive children. Others had challenging upbringings. But no matter where you’ve come from, if you are willing to work hard, learn, apply yourself and are determined to build a better future for you and your family, there should always be opportunities for you.
“A childhood misdemeanour, an inability to master trigonometry nor a hatred of Shakespearean literature should not condemn you to a life of under-performance, underpaid work or a continued period on the dole.”
Corporate Northern Ireland has certainly lost a colossus in Denis Lynn.