THE wife of a popular businessman has paid tribute to her husband after he passed away following a long fought battle with ill health.
Richard Gee, aged 61, pictured, of Newtown, Longnor, passed away on October 21 at Derby Royal Hospital.
He is best known for running Gee’s Ironmongers in Haywood Street, Leek, for the past five years and Brocklehursts Motor Factors, in Buxton Road, for 30 years beforehand.
He ran the ironmongers with his friend of 37 years Graham Walker, who also worked with him for 25 years at Brocklehursts.
Mr Gee decided to open the shop because he felt there was a gap in the market for an ironmongers in the town centre after Skinners, which used to be in Derby Street, and Blakemore and Chell, which used to be in Sheepmarket, closed.
Mr Gee's wife Val said: “Richard took over Brockleshursts in 1978 and continued to trade in Bath Street until 1994, when he relocated to Buxton Road.
“There he celebrated 25 years of trade in 2004 and decided to sell the business in 2005, but retirement was not for him and he set up business again in Haywood Street in 2008 with his good friend Graham Walker again by his side.
“The people of Leek seemed pleased to have an ironmongers again, and if they didn’t have what the customer wanted they would try to get it for them.
“The business has gone from strength to strength.”
Before his illness Mr Gee's first love was cycling and he completed several coast to coast charity rides.
It was during one such event that he met 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.
He also loved going on holiday, especially exploration and adventure trips.
Mrs Gee added: “He was always happiest at the thought of preparing and going on holiday, especially where exploring would be done.
“We always ended up on some expedition or another. He wasn’t a lying by the pool type of person; he always had to hire a bike, a scooter or a car and go off exploring.”
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 said: “He loved his grandchildren who gave him a great deal of pleasure, and he was a loving gentle and generous man.
“He was very good to all the children and treated mine as his own.
“In all he achieved he always remained modest and thought only of others.
“He worked very hard before he was poorly. and always enjoyed selling from a young age when he was a car salesman.
“The reason he did so well was because people trusted him and they used to go back to him time and again.
“If they weren't satisfied for any reason he’d always sort them out and make sure they were.”
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.
Mr 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.”
Mr Gee’s funeral will take place at St Edward's Church in Leek on Monday, November 4, at 12.30pm, followed by cremation at Macclesfield Crematorium and refreshments at Leek Cricket Club.
All are welcome to attend. Family flowers only but donations if desired to the first responders.