Development & Alumni Relations Office 


John (Johnny) Saville Black, BSc Civil Engineering 1970 (died on September 1, aged 66)

Extract from Lurgan Mail, 04 October 2015

Johnny Black’s life spanned a wide range of interests and activities including a distinguished career in civil engineering; a love of farming; a lifelong commitment to the Orange Order and unionism; and an active part in what he saw as the struggle for democratic rights and freedoms and against terrorism.

He was born on July 2, 1949, in Lurgan to parents Alastair and Iris Black. He had one elder brother Philip, a twin brother Douglas, and a younger sister Alison. He attended Carrick School (where his father was headmaster), Lurgan College and Queen’s University Belfast, graduating with an honours degree in Civil Engineering in 1970.

He married Grace McCormack in 1988, and they had two children, Alexandra and Robert. While they later separated, Johnny took a great delight in his family and was overjoyed by the news in July of this year that Alexandra was expecting his first grandchild.

Johnny commenced his career working for Thomas Lowe and Sons (Carryduff) Ltd where he was a site engineer on projects such as the construction of trunk sewers for Craigavon and the Dromore By-Pass. He then moved to the multi-disciplinary Belfast based practice of WDR & RT Taggart, where he rose to become a Senior Associate.

One of the many projects he was responsible for was the Killyhevlin Water Treatment Works in Co Fermanagh and Johnny was immensely proud when it was nominated for a Concrete Society award.

He and his brother Douglas farmed the family farm at Lisbane, Tandragee, which has been in the family’s possession since 1837. Much of Johnny’s spare time was spent on the farm where he found enormous contentment and satisfaction working the land and tending livestock. His love of Lisbane and his literary talent were expressed in stories in which he documented the history of Lisbane and the Black family.

Following in the family tradition, Johnny joined the Junior Orange Order at the age of 9, where he and his brother became members and then instructors in the Star of Lurgan Junior LOL 149 Accordion Band. He was initiated into the Senior Order in 1967 becoming a member of Loyal Sons of Ulster LOL 44, based in Brownlow House. He played a leading role in the life of the lodge, having been Worshipful Master, Secretary and then Treasurer from 1984 to his death.

He was also a District Officer in Lurgan District. He walked in all the Co Armagh Twelfth demonstrations from the early sixties until 2015, which he missed through illness but instead still took the opportunity to watch the Belfast demonstration for the first time. The friendship of his Brethren meant a lot to Johnny.

In the later stages of his life, Johnny found much happiness and companionship with his partner Jane Begley. They shared a love of travel and enjoyed many holidays both in the UK and abroad.

He is survived by his partner Jane, by Grace and children Alexandra and Robert, and by his brothers Philip and Douglas, and sister Alison.

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