TUESDAY (October 31) was a truly special time for the US descendants of Banbridge benefactor James White (1852 – 1919), as Holy Trinity Parish Church’s bells chimed to the sound of ‘Home Sweet Home’, as an annual ‘thank you’ to the kindly entrepreneur.

And while the annual rendition of his favourite tune is invariably an enchanting event, it took on a whole new dimension on Tuesday as a group of James’s US descendants, along with their local cousins, braved Storm Ciarán to join in the spirit of what is a very special tradition at the ‘Big Church’.

The bells were erected in James’s name by his widow following his passing, a full 103 years ago.

James was born in Banbridge in 1852 and emigrated to Chicago in 1875.

Such was his success in the paper industry that by 1896, he had founded his own company, the James White Paper Company.

Remarkably, James White gave true meaning and purpose to his entrepreneurial success by becoming a tireless champion of the local linen industry, and he also assisted with planning a memorial in Banbridge to men killed in WW1.

A frequent visitor to his native Banbridge, James knew all about the terrible toll which the Great War had exacted locally in human terms, and while the conflict was raging, he never once lost his confidence in a successful outcome for the Allies.

His attitude was expressed on several occasions by the statement: “Business be damned! Our business is to win the war!”

(See our full coverage on page 7).