Tributes have been paid to Fivemiletown man Arthur Armstrong who died one day after his 81st birthday.

A popular character, Arthur was a huge Elvis Presley fan who had said his claim to fame was meeting the singer in the late fifties in Germany.

A family member described how Arthur had “rocked up on a motorbike” to meet Elvis in what was an “incredible moment” in Arthur’s life.

Arthur passed away the Saturday before Christmas having been diagnosed with cancer 12 months previous.

A niece of Arthur’s explained that he had been an independent man all his life: “When he was diagnosed, he did not want anyone to know and he did not want to have to go into a nursing home. He was very adamant that he wanted to stay at home. He was a bachelor all his life and he was very independent.”

Despite the diagnosis of cancer, the death was still sudden. Arthur celebrated a birthday lunch with family on Friday December 21, he turned 81 that day, before passing away the following day. “We had been out for lunch and Arthur was content. But he had to go to hospital the following day and he died a few hours after being admitted so it was a surprise that it came so quickly in the end but in a way that might have been better,” his niece explained.

Arthur was the youngest of eight children of James and Mary Armstrong. He is survived by his sisters Betty Gililand, Sally Munford and Sheila Black, his brother Warnock Armstrong, and his adopted brother Alan. He is predeceased by his sisters Maisie Lee, Ena Downey and brother Jim Armstrong and adopted brother, Robbie.

Arthur moved to London in the early years after World War two and worked in the Post Office in Mount Pleasant for most of his working life.

On retirement he came home to Fivemiletown where he became embedded in the local community and enjoyed quizzes, bingo and horse racing.

In the last year of his life his independence was maintained with the help of neighbours, friends and his carer Edel.

Arthur, and his love of Elvis Presley, featured in The Impartial Reporter in 2011, where he recounted his time meeting the King of Rock and Roll in Germany in the late fifties. Arthur had been called up for national service and was stationed in Germany at the same time as Elvis when he came across an article on the King in a magazine. The article even had an address for Elvis in Germany. Arthur recounted the story of he and a friend visiting Elvis when he spoke to The Impartial Reporter in 2011.

“We couldn’t believe it. So, we set off one morning to find him. We went there and rang the bell, it was a Sunday morning. The maid answered it and told us he’d be down in a few minutes. There was nobody else there, except my friend and I. He took us inside the hallway, and we had a chat. He posed for the photographs and signed autographs. We were very lucky that morning.”

At Arthur’s funeral a friend attended wearing an Elvis jumper and some blue suede shoes with Arthur’s niece remarking “he would have enjoyed that”.

Arthur’s funeral was carried out by Marcus Madill, S.R Elliott & Sons.