The Ballymena borough has been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of former Town Clerk and Chief Executive of Council, Mervyn Rankin who passed away in hospital on Saturday.
Mr Rankin spent almost four decades in local government until his retirement in 2006.
At the time of his passing he was Chairman of the Local Government Staff Commission, a Board member of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, a Director on Ballymena Business Centre, President of Ballymena Rotary Club and High Sheriff for County Antrim for 2013.
Ballymena Mayor Cllr Audrey Wales MBE and Council’s Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said elected members and Council staff of Ballymena Borough Council were deeply saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of its former Chief Executive.
In a statement, they said: “Mervyn’s entire working life was spent in local government – mainly in Ballymena Borough Council with the exception of a short period of time when he was the Chief Executive of Cookstown District Council.
“He started his career in Environmental Health and he rose through the ranks and grades to be appointed Town Clerk and Chief Executive in 1991, where he remained until retirement in December, 2006.
“Mervyn was a well-liked and highly regarded and professional Chief Executive.
“He continued to play an important role in the business and community life of Ballymena after retiring, being honoured as the High Sheriff of County Antrim for 2013, serving as the President of the Ballymena Rotary Club and being made an honorary member of the Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“He was also highly involved in the important and critical task of shaping local government reform in his role as Chairman of the Local Government Staff Commission.
“We all in council regret his untimely passing and express our deepest condolences to his wife, June, and sons Jonathan and David and the wider family.”
SDLP Councillor Declan O’Loan said: “He was an outstanding public official and his passing is a great loss to public life at a time when he was still very active and making an important contribution.
“Mervyn was a very capable and innovative Chief Executive of Ballymena Borough Council. He moved the Council on very significantly in how it carried out its duties and I learned a great deal from him about the workings of government. He was the embodiment of integrity. He was the driving force behind the creation of The Braid arts, museum and civic building and that has proved to be a very successful project.
“Mervyn’s abilities were recognised by his appointment to major public positions after his retirement and it was typical of him that he wanted to continue to serve. I extend my sympathy to his wife June and their sons David and Jonathan,” said Mr O’Loan.
Chris Wales, Business Development Manager for Ballymena Chamber of Commerce, said: “The President and members of Ballymena Chamber of Commerce extend their deepest sympathy to June and the family circle.
“Chamber had a great working relationship with Mervyn over many years when he was Town Clerk and Chief Executive. As a mark of the esteem in which he was held, Chamber awarded Mervyn Life Membership when he retired.”
Ballymena Times editor, Des Blackadder, said he was very saddened to learn of Mr Rankin’s death.
He said: “Mervyn was a gentleman and a great servant to Ballymena. He always had time to talk to the press and dealt with all media issues very courteously, efficiently and professionally. He will be greatly missed and my sympathies go to his wife and family at this very sad time.”
Mr Rankin will be laid to rest today (Tuesday) following a service of Thanksgiving in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Ahoghill.