Millar Farr, the former sovereign grand master of the Royal Black Institution whose funeral was held today, cared so much for family that he once passed up a promotion to RUC chief inspector to help his mother.
Mourners gathered at First Presbyterian Church in Cookstown to say a final farewell to the 76-year-old, who passed away on Saturday after a long battle against cancer.
Mr Farr, a former RUC detective inspector and recipient of the Queen’s Police Medal, was a long-time member of Molesworth Presbyterian Church in the town. But with the church building undergoing renovation work, his funeral took place in nearby First Presbyterian.
During the service, his son, Ivan gave a heartfelt tribute on behalf of himself and his sister, Jayne, and also praised their mother for being a beacon of love and devotion during their father’s long illness.
Ivan, himself a former police officer, spoke about how his father served in the RUC from 1961 to 1997.
“Like many men and women he served with pride and distinction at very dangerous times,” he said.
“The highlight was when he was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 1995. A very proud day for our family when we saw the Queen present him with his medal at Buckingham Palace.
“I remember in my early days of service in the police when dad was also serving. I was asked when people heard my surname, are you a son of Millar? When I replied yes, they would often say: ‘If you achieve a fraction of what your father has done you will have a wonderful career.’ So true.
“When I joined the police, the night before I left for Enniskillen he asked me was I sure. I said yes. He then went on to say that you would see very sad and difficult times, but always remember ‘good will overcome evil’.
“At the dark moments I remembered these very profound words. I know from having served in the police and constantly hearing about my father’s reputation, that my father held true to this belief throughout his service.”
Ivan described his father as “a man of principle” who put family first and revealed how in 1986 he’d refused promotion to the rank of chief inspector so that he could remain in Co Tyrone and visit his elderly mother on a daily basis.
He went on to speak about the honour his father felt at being the sovereign grand master of the Royal Black Institution – a role he held for a decade and only stepped down from in June this year.
Rev Nigel Reid, one of the grand chaplains of the ‘The Black’, took part in the service and paid tribute to Mr Farr, speaking about the hope to be found in the life that he led, and holding him up as a great example for others to follow.
“I knew Millar for many years and I had great respect for him. He was a fine Christian man in every respect and he led the Royal Black Institution with great integrity,” he said.
Rev Tom Greer, minister of Molesworth Presbyterian for the past 17 years, also assisted with the funeral service. He described Mr Farr as “a very fine man”.
“He was a man of absolute integrity and honesty. He was a very straightforward and honourable man to deal with. He was also a man of solid Christian faith. He was highly, highly regarded by all who knew him,” he told the News Letter.
The Sovereign Grand Master of ‘The Black’, Rev William Anderson, described Mr Farr as one of the institution’s “greatest ever advocates” and “a hugely respected figure and role model” within the organisation.
Tributes have also been paid to Mr Farr by senior unionist politicians and the grand master of the Orange Order, who described him as “an honourable and decent man of the utmost integrity”.
Mr Farr, who is survived by his wife Margaret and children Ivan and Jayne, was laid to rest in the family burial ground at Brigh Presbyterian Church, Stewartstown.