Dr Donald Burgess McNeill (1911-2010)


It is with deep regret that we record the death of DB McNeill on August 8 peacefully, in his 100th year.

DB came up to Queen’s from Portora in the 1930s and was one of a small group of enthusiastic students who founded the Queen’s University Boat Club. He studied physics, and after graduating joined Belfast Boat Club where, as well as rowing, he coached the schoolboys of RBAI who rowed out of Belfast Boat Club at the time. Like many of his contemporaries, he joined up on the outbreak of the second-world-war, and saw service in Europe.

Following the war, DB returned to his beloved Lagan and joined Belfast Rowing Club, or as it was then Belfast Commercial Boat Club. He had life memberships of Belfast Boat Club, Belfast Rowing Club and Lagan Scullers, as well as being a past president of Queen’s. It will be as a coach that DB will be most vividly remembered – cutting quite a figure and cycling, well into his 70s, in his brown leather jerkin, bicycle clips and red woolly hat, megaphone in hand to give words of encouragement to his usually novice crew!

Although age brought with it frailty, he continued his avid interest in the progress of all the Lagan clubs, and enjoyed attending Lagan HOR and Queen’s Regatta right up until this year. He will be sadly missed and remembered with great affection at Queen’s.

A service of thanksgiving for the life of DB McNeill is due to be held later in the autumn. Details will be published on the Queen’s rowing website.

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