THE preacher conducting a funeral collapsed and died as the service was about to begin.
John Walker, 66, a lay preacher from Vicars Cross United Reformed Church, worked for Chester-based J C Clarke & Son undertakers for 18 years until his retirement last year.
Those who knew him say the man of God passed away doing what he loved.
An ambulance and rapid response vehicle were called to the chapel at Blacon crematorium after Mr Walker suffered a suspected heart attack and he was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital but attempts to resuscitate him failed.
Another minister was found at short notice allowing the service to continue at the graveside of the deceased.
Mr Walker, a widower, of King-sway, Newton, whose funeral took place at his own church and Blacon Crematorium last Thursday, had been an accredited lay preacher with Vicars Cross URC for a number of years.
Church minister Rev Tim Jackson said: 'The circumstances of his death were unusual. But he gained a lot of fulfilment from the work he did with Clarke's and his work as a preacher. Someone said he died doing what he loved and what he wanted to do.'
Rev Jackson was unaware of Mr Walker having been ill and his death came 'out of the blue'. A grandfather, he leaves three grown-up step-children and was described as a 'very quiet' man who was a lifelong Christian.
'The chap who did the eulogy at his funeral spoke of him as someone who was devoted and faithful, the kind of guy who always gave his best,' said Rev Jackson.
He said one the hymns sung at the service was O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end.
'And that's how John went, serving his Lord,' said Rev Jackson.
Neighbour Susan Fulton said Mr Walker drove the hearse at her mother's funeral. She said: 'He was a lovely, friendly man and would do anything to help you.'