Obituary - Eleanor Knox


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One of the most respected teachers in Portadown College history, Eleanor Knox, has died. Miss Knox passed away at Sandringham Private Nursing Home at Gilford Road on January 11th 2014.

Her teaching career – she taught music and history – encompassed seismic changes in the education system, from the ‘pure’ grammar school era through to the Dickson Plan for Education. A woman of gentle, yet determined disposition, she took all the changes in her stride. Her career stretched back to 1945 when she started at Portadown College Junior School and then progressed to the main College at Bann House where Donald Woodman was headmaster. Her colleagues included Jimmy Chambers, William Navan, Cyril Abraham and Iris Holmes.

Miss Knox loved both her subjects in equal measure, but perhaps her greatest achievements were in music. Not only did she teach the subject – founding various choirs at PC – but her influence spread throughout the Portadown community. She was a keen supporter of the town’s music festival, and was accompanist of Portadown Ladies’ Choir for many years.

Eleanor Knox began life at Ballydown near Banbridge in 1922. She was born in the Manse of Ballydown Presbyterian Church in 1922 when her father, the late Rev Robert Buick Knox, was minister. Her mother was Saran Ann Knox, and she was the sister of Professor R. Buick Knox, who began his career at Queen’s in Belfast and proceeded to Cambridge University. After his glittering career, he returned to Northern Ireland, and he and his sister resided at Killicomaine Drive for a number of years. Her brother, incidentally, was also minister at Ballydown for a number of years.

Miss Knox began her education at Ballydown National School, which is now reconstructed and preserved at the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra. She attended Banbridge Academy and then went on to Queen’s University where she attained a BA Degree in History. At the same time, she studied for her music degrees - L.R.A.M and L.T.C.L in piano - and had to go to Glasgow because of wartime for her L.R.A.M. She was organist at Ballydown through her brother’s ministry and gained her teaching position at Portadown College. Her teaching skills helped many A level music students to go on to Stranmillis and Queen’s.

A devout Presbyterian, she initially attended First Portadown and laterally Craigavon Presbyterian Church. And when Craigavon was extensively damaged as the result of an arson attack during the troubles, she played an important role in helping to raise the funds for its re-building and improvements. She founded the Portadown College Choir and won many prizes at the Portadown Music Festival. When she retired, Miss Knox and her brother enjoyed travelling, especially to European countries where she relished studying the history of the many places they visited.

People from many spheres of life will mourn her passing, especially the hundreds of Portadown College students whose lives she touched and enriched. Her funeral took place from Craigavon Presbyterian Church when a large congregation heard the Rev Elwyn Jones pay a fitting tribute. The service was conducted by the Rev. Robert Allely. Daphne Morrow presided at the organ and the hymns were ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’ and ‘Love Divine’. The interment took place in the family resting place in Ballydown Presbyterian Churchyard where the Rev. W.H. Sanderson did the committal. Family flowers were placed on the grave. William Bell and Co. had charge of the funeral arrangements.