TRIBUTES have been paid to a much loved and respected Greenock businessman who has sadly passed away.

Alex Gillespie, who set up Gillespie’s Furniture shop back in 1964 with just £40 in his pocket, died aged 92 on April 3 after a courageous battle against skin cancer.

His son Alan and daughter Irene say their father was a very special person who will be fondly remembered by people throughout Inverclyde and beyond.

Irene said: “The majority of people in the town knew him.

“I still meet people who have got furniture he sold them all those years ago because it was such high quality.

“The customers have been very supportive as a lot of them remembered our dad.

“He will be sadly missed.”

Alan added: “He had a really good life.

“He lived life to the full right up until a few months before he died.

“Just last year he enjoyed holidays to Dubai and Italy.

“He was well known and respected businessman in the town and a devoted family man.”

Alex, who was born in Market Street in Greenock, attended St Mary’s Primary where he was school dux.

After leaving school he worked in Scotts shipyard in Greenock as a riveter and also had a part-time job as a PE teacher at a college in Glasgow.

After 25 years in the shipyard, Alex decided to follow his dream of opening up his own business.

Irene said: “His dream was always to run his own business, so in 1964 he started a wee shop in Ann Street in Greenock with just £40.

“He managed to build it into a successful furniture business selling top quality products.

“Gillespie’s has a good name in the town.

“My dad worked very hard.”

Alex’s dedication paid off as he grew the business and moved to Westburn Street before switching to Smith Street then Laird Street, West Blackhall Street and eventually into Dalrymple Street.

Irene said: “I went to work with him when he was based in Westburn Street, I was 21.

“Every family member has been involved in the business in one way or another.”

Alan, who now runs the business under the name Gillespie’s Bed Centre, says his dad was a real grafter.

He said: “He was very hands-on with all aspects of the business.

“You would see him with his boiler suit on carrying out jobs and he also built our former premises next door in Dalrymple Street.”

Alan says his father would also take great pride when he saw his furniture appear in the Tele.

He said: “He enjoyed seeing coffee tables or beds from Gillespie’s being advertised for sale in the Tele.

“It was an accolade for him.”

Alex eventually retired in 1999 but still remained very active.
Alan said: “He travelled the world.

“During his retirement he went on 28 cruises.

“He also enjoyed golf as he was still very sprightly and he loved his Celtic.

“He was a gregarious character —  he was very witty with a great sense of humour.

“He also never drank or smoked.”

Alex, a devout Catholic who attended St Mary’s Church, was devoted to his family.

Irene said: “He loved his family.

“He had six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and they all looked up to him and thought he was an inspiration.”

Sadly Alex’s son Billy passed away some years ago.

Mr Gillespie is survived by his wife Licia, Irene, 66, Sandra, 56, who lives in London, and Alan, 52, and his six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.