GERRY McKenna, Company Director of Richmond Coaches, died after a long illness at the age of 68.
From Ballinderry Road, Gerry was a founder and active member of the Northern Ireland Independant Coach Operators.
He died after a two year battle with cancer on Sunday, November 4, surrounded by his family at his home.
Born in Belfast in July 1944 Gerry, the youngest of three children - sister Margaret and brother Tom - left school and started working with the Hire Purchase Company of Northern Ireland, later known as Allied Irish Finance and then First Trust Bank where he enjoyed a long and successful career. When he retired in June 1994 he planned to fulfil his dream of running his own coach business.
He founded Lisburn Mini Coach in 1997 which later became Richmond Coaches when Gerry purchased his first large coach.
Described as a ‘magician’ Gerry was a keen football player and played as an old fashioned outside left for Sparta and Crewe United in Glenavy where he served as club chairman in the 1980s along with his brother Tom, who will forever be associated with the club. He once even used his footballing skills to coach a football team of young nurses.
Gerry met his future wife Dympna and married soon after in 1970. They had five children Damien, Claire, Brendan, Aidan and Noleen.
The family moved to Lisburn in 1979 to Richmond Court, which is where Richmond Coaches took its name.
In 1997, with the support of Dympna, Gerry got the business Richmond Coaches off the ground and set about building a leading Coach Company for Lisburn.
There were no half-measures in Gerry’s agenda: you either did it right or you didn’t even think of doing it at all. He started with two mini coaches and when he quickly realised the need for a large coach he purchased this in 1999.
Sons Brendan and Aidan joined soon after and with the help of Brendan’s wife Fedeilme, they now run the business.
The company expanded the fleet to 11 vehicles by 2010 and just before his death, the company purchased two new state of the art Van Hool coaches, built in Belgium, the first of its kind for Ireland. Gerry saw this as an investment in the future success of the business, which he wanted to continue to prosper.
He was a founder and active member of the Northern Ireland Indepentant Coach Operators Association which later became the Federation of Passenger Transport Northern Ireland and was an active participant in raising standards across the industry.
Richmond Coaches achieved many awards throughout its first 15 years including Best Fleet, Tour Operator, Customer Care Award and Gerry himself was awarded Judges Special Award for services to the Passenger Transport Industry.
Gerry was buried on Wednesday November 7 at St Joseph’s Cemetery Maghaeragal, after a service at St. Patrick’s Church in Lisburn.