Lives Remembered

Alan Patton: Generous spirit who offered friendship to all

Alan Patton always seemed to have time to talk.

In a self-obsessed world, he had a genuine interest in other people and a generous spirit that made friends everywhere he went.

Alan was erudite and intelligent but always down to earth. He had a wicked, irreverent sense of humour but was warm and funny and loved to share a laugh.

Always on hand for help or advice, he overcame his own struggles with alcohol to lend his strength in fellowship to hundreds of others from all walks of life.

A renaissance man who wore his talents lightly, he will be remembered as a decent human being who offered his friendship to all and was loved in return.

Alan was born in Belfast in 1947 and grew up in Donegall Pass, the middle child of three.

After leaving school he was determined to qualify as a heating engineer and draughtsman and studied hard at night classes and technical college.

He would be a passionate advocate of lifelong learning and always encouraged others in their education.

Alan himself studied German, became expert in calligraphy, and was widely read in a variety of subjects including poetry, which he also wrote.

His son Keith joked at his funeral: "He was knowledgeable in many different areas and even without any knowledge on some subjects, he had the vocabulary and charisma to appear so regardless."

As a young man Alan was also interested in music, playing acoustic guitar around pubs with the band The Irish Rovers.

It was while gigging that he he met Dolly, a barmaid at the Vernon Arms (????), and they settled in the Galwally area of south Belfast and had a son.

Alan quickly rose up the ranks to managing director of a plumbing company as the family moved to a bigger house off the Lisburn Road.

However, his reliance on alcohol was also growing and in 1985 he entered a recovery programme. He was almost 40 years old and it would be a turning point in his life.

He began afresh, starting his own building firm and over time built close relationships with several customers including The Irish News.

Alan had many friends in Donegall Street and left his unique mark both on the physical building and in the hearts of all who passed through its doors.

His proudest building project, however, was the ramshackle house and garden he bought at Ravarnet in Lisburn, which was transformed and extended over time to include a games room, Swiss-style log cabin and elaborate wooden walkway.

It was his slice of paradise and he shared it for more than three decades with his soulmate Gaye, where they enjoyed a happy, loving and fulfilled life surrounded by the excited shouts of grandchildren.

Alan Patton died from cancer at his home on January 8. He was in his 75th year.

He is sadly missed by his beloved partner Gaye, son Keith, stepchildren Stephen, Judith, Brian and Janet and family circle.

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Lives Remembered