THE term gentleman could have been invented for Lexie Miller MBE who has died suddenly, just five days before his 91th birthday.
One of the most popular and instantly recognisable figures in North West cricket, he described his lifetime in the sport as a labour of love.
Although he never reached the heights as a player with the old City of Derry side, he founded the now defunct YMCA club and was a bastion of the Derry Mid-week League, holding every post, some of them more than once.
A former employee of Derry City Council where he worked in the water and roads divisions, it was his love of cricket and the friends he has made down the years who will always remember him.
He was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2015 “for services to cricket and charity in Northern Ireland”, having raised tens of thousands of pounds through the Derry Mid-week League’s competitions.
Lexie was also one of only five people in Ireland – out of 100 worldwide - who received a Centenary Medal from cricket’s world governing body, the International Cricket Council in 2009.
At the time he said: “To be equated with such highly esteemed and notable personages and recipients as Derek Scott, the late John Wright, Siobhan McBennett and Cecil Walker makes me stand in awe and very conscious of the great honour accorded me by Cricket Ireland.
“I deeply appreciate my voluntary work in North West of Ireland cricket and the Derry Mid-week League has been recognised through this Centenary Medal.
“I’m very humbled by it. It’s something I’ll always treasure and revere.”
The night before his death he was talking cricket, of course, with his great friend John Bratton from the Glendermott club while listening on the radio to his beloved Manchester City playing Liverpool.
“Lexie invited me onto the committee of the Derry Mid-week League some 15 years ago and I’m still involved in some way trying to keep the positive side of raising money for local charities,” said Mr Bratton.
North West union chairman Brian Dougherty also added his tribute: "The news of Lexie’s passing is met with great sadness.
"I had known Lexie since his days as the driver of YMCA cricket club and he became a very welcome fixture in North West and Mid-week cricketing circles since.
"It is hard to think of a more popular and well-liked figure in cricketing circles around these parts. Always affable, always welcoming, and always smiling, he simply loved cricket and regardless of the time of the year he would always stop to chat about local or international cricket.
"He received many well deserved accolades and awards during his lifetime but perhaps his most impressive legacy is that it will be impossible to ever find anyone who has a single bad word to say about him."
Married for 62 years to Lila, who died in December 2018, Lexie is survived by son Adrian, who lives in England and daughter Vanessa.
His funeral is tomorrow morning in St Columb’s Cathedral.