WELL loved pub landlord Dick Pearce died on Sunday while celebrating his 67th birthday.
Dick was listening to one of his favourite bands at the Plough pub in Cock Marling, which he ran with wife Babs and daughter Jackie, when he collapsed and died after suffering a heart attack.
Dick was at the Ypres pub in Rye for 16 years, before breathing new life into the Plough.
He was known in the area for his support of local bands and particularly blues music in Rye
This was something he continued at the Plough, with old friends Louis Turpin and Roger Hubbard playing on Sunday.
Jackie said: “He enjoyed the band and died just as they finished the last number, his favourite `Forever Young’. It is the way he would have wanted to go.
“He did not want a big fuss and always said to me, when I go just raise a glass to me.”
Hard working Dick was chef at the Ypres from 1984 to 2000 when it was arguably the most popular pub in Rye.
Babs, married to Dick for almost 50 years, said: “Dick was always a workaholic – he never knew when to stop.”
She added: “He was always honest and would tell people what he thought but was so well-known and respected.
“He had suffered a heart attack and prostate cancer in the past and had kidney problems but kept going for another 11 years, which surprised his own GP. He was just very stubborn.”
After leaving the Ypres Dick ran a catering business with Babs but in 2004 re-opened the 400 year old Plough, between Udimore and Rye, which had been closed for four years.
He revitalised the pub, establishing a solid reputation for good food and good music while never losing sight of the fact that it was a place where people could pop in for a drink and meet new friends.
One of his sayings was “arrive as a stranger leave as a friend.”
Dick was a straightforward man who could be blunt if he disagreed with something but he had immense respect from those who knew him.
He was a solid opponent of the pub smoking ban holding a firm belief that people should have a choice.
Dick said of the Plough: “This is the type of pub we have always wanted.”
Andy McConnell, from Rye, contacted the Observer to say: “Dick was a real character and known by many people, He had been ill for a while but always kept going and used to joke that he was still here. He will be greatly missed.”
Another caller contacted the Observer to say: “Dick was forthright with his views sometimes but a real old school landlord. He did a lot to support live music in Rye and was a real one-off. There will not be another like him.”
Funeral arrangements had not been finalised at the time of going to press but the family asked for donations to be made to British Heart Foundation and the Brighton Renal Unit, through Ellis Brothers at Rye.