Tribute to former Larne Grammar School vice-principal and councillor

Thomas Harvey (Tom) Benson, who died in his 103rd year, was a native of Dungannon in Co Tyrone and a former councillor on Larne Borough Council.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 4:10 pm
Tom Benson.

Born in Dungannon in 1916, he was the son of Edith and Robert Benson and the eldest of three siblings, surviving his sister Betty and his brother Bill.

Tom attended Drumglass Primary School before receiving a scholarship to attend Dungannon Royal in 1929. He progressed to Queen’s University, Belfast, graduating with a degree in Mathematics.

He moved to Larne and began a 42-year teaching career, initially at Larne Grammar School, then Ballymena Academy and Belfast Royal Academy before returning to Larne Grammar.

He spent the last 35 years of his teaching career in the town, retiring as head of Mathematics and vice principal of Larne Grammar School.

Married to Renee, the couple formerly lived at Lansdowne Crescent in the town.

Tom represented the Alliance Party as a councillor on Larne Borough Council, serving between 1973 and 1981, and was actively involved in the community, being a member of Larne Drama Circle, the Larne Drama Festival Committee, the Larne Road Safety Committee and Larne Arts Committee.

He was also a founding member of Larne Economic Development Company (LEDCOM), now located at Bank Road and Willowbank in the town.

Tribute was paid to him by former Mayor of Larne, Tom Robinson, who maintained contact with him over the years following his departure from the council.

Mr Robinson said “I had the honour and privilege of knowing him not only as a council colleague but also as a close personal friend for many years after we both moved on from Larne Borough Council.

“He was a gentleman for whom I had the utmost respect. He was blessed with really good health until well past his 100th birthday and I know he greatly enjoyed sharing that occasion with his family. He was a brilliant academic, mathematical and teacher and was held in high esteem by all who knew him, including at Larne Grammar School.

“He will be greatly missed.”

Tom Benson died peacefully in the Royal Victoria Hospital and is survived by his daughter Rosemary, son-in-law Alan and grandson Jonathan. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Irene (Renee) in 2010.

His funeral service was held in St. Cedma’s Parish Church of Ireland, Inver, with interment taking place at Larne Cemetery.

Donations in lieu of flowers were encouraged to Northern Ireland Air Ambulance, c/o E. W. Ramsey & Son, 5 Upper Main Street, Larne, BT40 1SY.