COOKSTOWN entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Sir Allen McClay has passed away in the USA at the age of 81 after a short illness.
The prominent figure is survived by his wife Heather, who he married in hospital in Philadelphia in November where he was being treated.
Sir Allen McClay established his first business, Galen, in 1968 which went on to become a world-leading pharmaceutical and biotech company, making him a multi-millionaire and one of Northern Ireland's richest men.
In September 2001, he retired as President of Galen which later became Warner Chilcott. Sir Allen bought back five divisions and established a new company, Almac which employed thousands of people in the pharmaceutical industry.
Sir Allen McClay showed his support for cancer research when he launched the McClay Foundation, a charitable trust which works with Queen's University and Invest NI.
He featured consistently in the Sunday Times Rich List and his wealth was to grow even further with the success of Almac which provides pharmaceutical research and development services to over 600 companies worldwide with sales of $750 million.
Over the past couple of years Sir Allen had been overseeing the development of Almac's new US $120m headquarters in Philadelphia, and it was during a recent trip to view its progress that he was taken unwell unexpectedly.
Ulster Unionist MLA for Mid-Ulster Billy Armstrong said he was proud to have known a man of such calibre.
"I extend my sympathy to his wife Heather, his sister and the wider family circle," he added.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Trevor Wilson said he wanted to express his sadness at the death of Sir Allen McClay.
"I got to know him very well over the last couple of years especially through the campaign to keep Westland Home open which, like Allen's life, was successful," he said.
"His enthusiasm for life and for medical research knows no boundaries," said Cllr Wilson.
"The amount of work and effort Sir Allen put in to medical research will always be remembered."
And Cllr Wilson added that he wanted to pass on his sympathy to wife Heather and the family circle at this sad time.