Published Monday, 09 June 2014
He died last week aged 91 at a nursing home in Co Down, close to his family home in Killyleagh.
Originally from Omagh, Co Tyrone, he was best known for being one of the very few high profile Catholic unionist politicians in Northern Ireland.
However, before his entry into politics, Sir John was a familiar name as a decorated war hero of the Second World War and a leading business figure.
Friends and family turned out at St Mary's Star of the Sea Church for his funeral mass on Monday.
The Bishop and Diocese of Down and Connor was represented at the ceremony by Canon Sean Rogan and Her Majesty the Queen was represented by the Lord Lieutenant of County Down, Mr David Lindsay.
Delivering the homily, Fr Eugene O'Neill described Sir John as a "man of courage" who put his life one the line to serve his country in World War II.
"He was a man whose basic approach to life was not to ask, 'what can I get?' - but rather, 'what can I give?'" Fr O'Neill said.
"And this spirit of service for the common good was the foundational principle of his military and police service, of each part of his long and varied career in public life, and the reason why his name is held in esteem by people across the spectrum of politics as a by-word for decency.
"Behind the public man, lay a loving father full of fun who managed that extraordinary feat of energy and organisation, to combine a demanding career with the successful raising of a large family."
A member of the Irish Guards, he was awarded the prestigious Military Cross for his actions in leading his crew to safety after their tank came under fire from the Germans.
He was promoted to the rank of captain, and after the war left the army to become an RUC inspector.
Sir John also headed the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and was the first chairman of the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue.
He stood for the Ulster Unionist Party and was elected representative to the Assembly in 1998, representing the North Down constituency. He went on to hold the position of Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.
Sir John received many awards during his lifetime - he was knighted by the Queen in 1998 and also held the title of Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Down.
In 2007, he was awarded with the French military decoration Croix De Guerre for actions during World War II.
Sir John is survived by his wife Lady Gorman, his children Jonny, Angela, Rosanagh and Mimi.
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