THE high esteem and popularity held by a former Leek businessman was shown by the large number of mourners who filled St Edward’s Church for his funeral service on Monday.
The packed congregation gathered to pay their last respects to Richard Gee, who was the owner of Gee's Ironmongers in Haywood Street, Leek, and previously Brocklehursts Motor Factors, in Bath Street, and then, following relocation, Buxton Road.
Mr Gee, aged 61, of Newtown, Longnor, passed away on October 21 at Derby Royal Hospital.
The service was conducted by Father Carl Peters which was followed by cremation at Macclesfield Crematorium.
Father Peters said that Mr Gee was a very popular and generous man who had left life when he was only 61 years of age.
He added: “It is very sad we are here today. The church shows how popular he was.
“Richard was brought up in Newtown and loved going around with his dad repairing tractors.
“He worked as a car salesman and then Brocklehursts which he eventually brought.
“He was known for his personal touch and would always give people discounts.
“Many people will remember him as a gentleman. One of his enjoyments was cycling and he rode from coast to coast and Edinburgh to Leek to raise money for charity. He had been ill for a few years, but managed to keep a well loved business in Leek.
“Richard has left a mark on Leek with his generosity and that personal touch.”
It was during one cycling event that Richard met his wife Val in May 2000 during a ride from Whitehaven to Sunderland.
The couple married in a private ceremony in 2001, announcing it to their family and friends on Mr Gee’s 50th birthday with a big party.
Mr Gee was father to Rebecca Ball and step-father to Val’s children Daniel Pritchard and Cassie Smith, and a devoted grandfather to Esme, Poppy and Violet.
Mr Gee first realised he was ill with liver disease in 2001 after a blood test, but it was only over the past couple of years that he suffered the full effects of his illness.
Mrs Gee said: “He’d been back and forth to hospital loads of times, but it’s only these past few years that he's been really poorly.
“He battled on and never complained even when he felt wretched, he was really brave with it all and was very accepting of it and hopeful that something could be done and he’d get a liver transplant.
“I can only feel pleased that he is not suffering now and I feel very privileged to have been his wife.”