There were poignant scenes earlier today, Wednesday, August 19, at St Augustine’s Parish Church, for the funeral of Marlene Jefferson, MBE, who became the first lady Mayor of the city in 1980-1981.
Mourners who filled St Augustine’s to capacity, were told that despite being an active member of the UUP and achieving much in her life, Marlene Jefferson was, first and foremost a family person, and was a proud mother and grandmother.
A family tribute was read by Ms Jefferson’s son-in-law, Brendan, on behalf of the family, in which he revealed that Marlene was the second eldest of 10 children, and had started work in a shirt factory at the age of 14.
“As well as having a full-time job at that early age, she became a second mother to her siblings who all adored her,” he said.
“This experience laid the foundations for the amazing mum and granny she became to her own five children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” he told mourners.
“She also filled many other roles, as a sister, a friend, a good neighbour and many more. But, regardless of how you knew her, or for how long, she was indiscriminate in the warmth and kindness she displayed.”
The service was conducted by Rev Malcolm Ferry, Rector of St Augustine’s, who led prayer and gave the address.
He told mourners that before she had died Ms Jefferson had laid out details of her funeral service, including some of her favourite hymns, which had been placed in a sealed envelope until after her death.
The hymns were ‘There is a green hill far away’, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ and ‘O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder’.
As a mark of Ms Jefferson’s strong cross-community ethos, Fr Michael Canning was invited to read from St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Chapter 5) and St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Chapter 2).
The remains were carried into the church to the song ‘Danny Boy’ sung by soloist Denise O’Boyle, to the traditional tune, the Londonderry Air.
At the end of the funeral service the St Augustine’s Choir sang the Nunc Dimittis as the remains were carried from the church for burial at Altnagelvin Cemetery.
During the service the late Ms Jefferson’s granddaughter, Sam, read the poem ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’ by Mary Elizabeth Frye, while her sister, Sylvia, read the poem ‘Not ‘til the loom is silent’, a poem presented to Ms Jefferson at the time of the death of her beloved son Tom.