ROBERT John Read, known to all as Bob, was born to Phyllis and Albert Read in the Gower in South Wales on November 16, 1931.
He was a brother to Peter, who at eight years his senior was a role model he always looked up to. They had a strong brotherly bond, despite Peter moving to Oslo when he married.
The boys grew up in Kenton and upon leaving school, Bob trained as a horologist and gem specialist.
He was fortunate to secure his first job in Hatton Garden, the centre of the UK’s jewellery trade, where his love of clocks, watches and fine jewellery grew.
Another of his passions was dancing and it was at a local dance where he met Di Crooks. After a five-year courtship, he and Di were married in September 1956 and they went on to enjoy 55 fun-filled years together.
They initially settled in Edgware, where they had their first daughter Celia. After the arrival of their second daughter Dawn, an opportunity arose for Bob to become a partner in a new jewellery business in Henley. The family moved in 1963 and the first shop, Jobin, was opened at 62a Bell Street. Daughter number three, Vanessa, was born four years later to complete the all-girl family which Bob doted on for the rest of his life.
The business thrived and Jobin moved to the larger and more prestigious premises in the heart of the town, where it later became Bracher and Sydenham, then Goldsmiths.
Bob became involved with Henley Royal Regatta and for years was responsible for the preparation, display and engraving of the impressive trophies.
First and foremost, Bob was a clock and watchmaker known to many but he became integrated with all aspects of Henley life.
He joined Round Table, Rotary and later the 41 Club, so that as well as enjoying a busy social life, he could get involved with helping within the town that he had grown to love.
Through work and play, he and Di developed a large circle of valued friends with whom they shared countless dinners and parties. He was the life and soul of any gathering.
After enjoying the river aboard friends’ boats for several years, Bob bought his own in 1979, which he moored at Phyllis Court Club where he and Di were members for 35 years.
They spent many happy hours pootling up and down the Thames, always turning it into a social occasion with family or friends.
His three daughters blessed him with six grandchildren — David, Simon, Stephanie, Sean, Harrison and Adam, with whom he loved to tell stories and play when they were young.
They will remember a Gramps with a bushy ’tash who was always laughing and joking with them. The business was of huge importance to Bob. The people who worked with him became like a second family and he was very sad to retire from it.
It is rather poignant that tomorrow (Saturday) will be the last day of trading for Goldsmiths in Henley. The end of an era. He was, after all, very much a part of the fixtures and fittings there.
Bob was a man of great wit and integrity, loved by all those who knew him.
With his friends, he would often joke that Henley was the centre of the universe and he truly thought there was no better place to live.
His enthusiasm for life and fun was infectious and as a result he has left behind him a wealth of happy memories. He will be missed so much by so many.
Sadly, Di passed away in November 2011 and Bob’s heart and home has been empty without her. They are now reunited.
A private family funeral will be held at Reading Crematorium followed by a memorial service for friends and family at Holy Trinity Church at 2pm today (Friday).