Obituary: Magheramorne man Sam always had time for people

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Tribute has been paid to Sam Cross – a “pillar” of his church and community.

Mr Cross, who passed away recently, was born on March 7, 1930, the only son of Sam and Margaret Cross, of 16 Newlands Road, Magheramorne. He attended the local Blackhill Primary School and as a teenager, moved to Larne Technical School.

Then followed a lifelong career in pharmacy. Sam’s working life started with JW Sandford in Larne and continued until the business closed on JW’s retirement,

Sam continued with his studies at night school and had no trouble obtaining another position. Over the years, he worked for Dick Ross, John McFarlane and Dundee’s, in Glengormley, from which he retired. Sam then worked part-time in Photo Pharmacy, for Anne-Marie, in McFarlane and Woodside.

Mourners at his funeral were reminded: “One attribute obvious when meeting him was that Sam always had time. He was patient, sensitive and very much a people person. This was much appreciated when advising on medicine, demonstrating a new camera or offering an opinion in a committee situation.

“It was not unknown for calls to come through on Christmas morning from a customer wanting to know where the batteries were for ‘this apparatus’, or: ‘Could you please tell us again how it works?’”

In the 1940s-early 50s, Sam cycled. That was his transport to and from work, whatever the weather, and also for recreation. He attended the Festival of Britain Exhibition in London in 1951. With a colleague, he cycled four days there and four days back.

Sam learned to fly. At weekends, he made his way to Newtownards and flew an old Tiger Moth bi-plane up and down the Ards Peninsula, attired in leather helmet and goggles.

In the pharmacy, it is well-known locally that Sam devised a very effective cough mixture. One lady apparently came all the way from Lisburn and introduced herself by saying that she’d heard the medicine was “to die for”. Sam told her this was not the case: it was supposed to keep her alive.

Sam was also well versed in old folk remedies. This was thoroughly researched and he was much in demand as a speaker at organisations and groups.

He was also a fully-trained chiropodist and podiatrist, after qualifying in 1960.

Sam was an authority on local history and was an enthusiastic member of the Historical and Folklore Society, again, in demand as a speaker.

He was also an instructor who lectured and examined first aid in youth organisations on behalf of St John Ambulance and Red Cross.

Leisure activities included a love of reading and poetry. The works of Robert Burns were particular favourites and he was frequently called upon to “address the haggis” on Burns Night. Such was his depth of interest that Sam was a guest at the Burns Conference, in Maryland, USA.

In the 1960s, Sam found another activity, setting clues for treasure hunts.

He is best-known for his photographic work. It was a hobby with which he was associated all his adult life, and as well as selling the equipment, he was a lifelong member of Larne Camera Club and his work was exhibited and admired by many. He was commissioned for weddings and special occasions of all kinds and the work was always carried out in the same quiet, efficient manner that was so characteristic of Sam, and very often, assisted by his wife, Olive.

At age five, Sam joined the Sunday School in Magheramorne Presbyterian Church. Attendance and knowledge were assessed yearly by examination, with book prizes awarded. The top pupils, however, won a medal and Sam succeeded in gaining one.

Later, he confessed to being a little disappointed as the medal sat in its box on the mantelpiece. He felt if he had got the book instead, he could have enjoyed a good story.

The church in Magheramorne was a significant part of Sam’s life.

He became a full communicant member in May, 1953, was elected to committee in 1954 and a member of Kirk Session since 1992.

He was appointed honorary auditor in 1972 and continued to serve until retirement in 2009.

Whatever the occasion, Sam was always there with an entertaining story to lighten the proceedings. At the elders’ service, he played a major part and spoke from the pulpit.

In the Bible, one of the accepted meanings for pillar is that of a strong support to hold the roof of the temple. Sam was that strong support – quiet, unobtrusive, always there when needed.

In the home, at his numerous leisure events, at work or in the church, he could be relied upon to do what was needed at the right time.