THE contribution that Kathleen Richey (88) made to life in West Fermanagh and North Cavan will be felt for generations to come.

A woman of passion, determination, intelligence, organisation and enthusiasm, what she and her late husband, the Canon Robin Richey, did for that district is, as Reverend Noel Regan put it at her funeral service on Tuesday, “simply immeasurable”.

The impression she left on the community was seen in the large number of people in Belcoo and Blacklion who lined the roads as she made her final journey to Florencecourt on Monday. It was a mark of respect the family said would have meant so much to her, and was of great comfort and appreciated by them at such an emotional time.

During the service at St. John’s Church, Florencecourt, the congregation heard Mrs. Richey described as a woman who made the world a much better place.

“They would both want to think that their work is a lasting tribute to them that they have left us a heritage a monument that will be there for generations to come,” said Rev Regan.

“Although it is not a great obelisk of stone, or a stained glass window, it’s a living monument that will live on through the generations.

“Kathleen’s contribution to everything she was involved in was immeasurable. She never slacked. She was never found wanting. She was a teacher by profession, and was born to that profession, an educationalist all her life.

“The number of people today that are successful in their lives and who would attribute their success to her ability to instil confidence in them [is a living testament to her]. It was instinctive in her.”

Rev. Regan spoke of how it was said the likes of Mrs. Richey and Canon Richey would never be seen again, and he hoped this was not the case: “I hope there are many people who will be like them again.

“And through our influence and the church, it is so important that we have people like that to look up to.”

Mrs. Richey was involved in a variety of organisations, including the youth club in Blacklion, Fermanagh Trust, Blacklion/Killinagh Community Council, Fermanagh Rural Community Network, and her leading role on Cashel Senior Citizens group, alongside numerous other groups which made a huge contribution to people’s lives across the region.

“Although they were not blessed with a family, [and] children of their own, she has undoubtedly touched the lives of thousands of children through her teaching career and her community work. She’s probably remembered best on the Southern side of the Border for her 50 years’ service to Blacklion Water Safety.

“We say she was an excellent rector’s wife,” said Rev. Regan. “She didn’t need to be a rector’s wife to be effective in the community.

“She arrived to meetings with her bags, and someone said to me they were full of wisdom. She was very much to the fore in cross-Border activities in building bridges and tearing down walls ... the ones we build up in our minds. Her support in any organisations she was involved in meant its success.”

Peter Greene, who was part of a team of leaders who worked closely with Mrs. Richey to run the youth club, described her as “one of the most respected and influential people in our community during our lifetime”.

He continued: “For anyone who worked closely with Mrs. Richey, you learned very quickly that meticulous organisation and attention to detail were minimum standards to be achieved, and will always serve you well.

“So much is spoken today about leadership, and there are volumes of print on the matter. In our day, there was little reference to it, but weren’t we lucky to have lived our young lives learning all about it from a true leader.

“The skills garnered during those years, I have absolutely no doubt helped many of our group to succeed at the highest level, in business, in professional careers, and in their own personal lives.

“It has both been an honour and a privilege to me to recount a brief synopsis of the influence and inspiration a great leader can have on people, and Kathleen Richey inspired many, leaving a rich legacy of success behind her.”

In recalling her involvement with Blacklion Water Safety, Sarah White spoke of Mrs. Richey as a “force of nature” who took pride in how successful it had been since its creation in 1971.

She praised Mrs. Richey as someone who could maintain discipline among large numbers without even trying, knowing all the children and instructors by name, encouraging those to go forward and improve, Sarah said.

“Today, as we say goodbye, we celebrate and remember the immense person Kathleen was – her drive, her work ethic, her determination to succeed, her huge heart and her sense of fairness in everything she did.

“We are also grateful she lived in our community and enriched so many of our lives. We thank you, Kathleen, for your life of dedication and we are hopeful your inspiration and dedication to water safety will continue in Blacklion.”

In a fitting way to end her tribute to Mrs. Richey, Sarah said: “Nobody is forgotten until the ripples they create in life die away.

“Kathleen, your ripples are wide and far-reaching, and will last for generations to come.”

Mrs. Richey was laid to rest on Tuesday, November 16, at St. John’s Church Florencecourt.

Beloved wife of the late Rev. Canon Robin Richey, dear sister of the late Florence Elliott, and a loving aunt to Valerie, Linda, John, Helen and Lorna, she is lovingly remembered by her family and all the family circle.