Tribute to Rochdale man who died in house fire
Reporter: Laura Wild
Date online: 16 March 2011
The family of a Rochdale man who died at a house fire in Norden have paid tribute to him.
Brian Johnson, 73, was found by fire-fighters at his home on Keepers Drive, Norden, on Monday morning (14 March 2011).
Mr Johnson was a keen sports fan; he had followed Rochdale AFC all his life and was also a keen cricketer.
He lived in Rochdale for the majority of his life. He worked at his parent’s grocery shop on Drake Street as a young man, before taking over a wholesale grocery business, which they ran in Belfield, when they passed away.
Mr Johnson later ran a launderette in Royton before taking on a role as Commercial Manager at Rochdale Football Club.
He worked at the football club for many years and it was a job he loved. When he was in his 40s he was very poorly. He had a brain tumour and underwent surgery, from which he recovered, and continued to work at the football club for a few more years.
Son, Michael, 45, said: “He was a mad keen Rochdale supporter; he lived for it, that’s all he thought about. They won last night and I know he would have been looking down and thinking about it – that’s what he did.
“The job was more of a hobby. I couldn’t think of a better job for him.”
Mr Johnson left the club in the 80s and he later went to work as a post man.
Michael added: “He loved his post man days and all the characters. It was the first time he had worked with a gang of people and he loved it.”
Mr Johnson retired at 60 to care for his late wife Margaret, who died aged 59.
The couple met on a blind date and married in 1962, the same year they moved to Keepers Drive.
They had two sons, Michael, 45 and David 44.
Mr Johnson also leaves four grandchildren. Emily, 20, Robert, 18, Joel, 20 and Ewan, 11.
Michael added: “He loved the grandchildren.”
He added: “He thought the world of me and my brother.
“He was a character; he was very likable, very witty.
“We were very close, he was my best mate.”
Michael added: “He had a cat, Finley, he loved the cat, it was everything to him.”
The family had often enjoyed holidays to Malta and last year Michael and David along with their families took Mr Johnson back for a holiday.
“It was his favourite place to go on holiday. It is all of our favourite place,” said Michael.
Mr Johnson had recently started watching Rochdale Hornets again, which was something he enjoyed.
In his youth Mr Johnson was a keen cricketer and was a life-long member of Norden Cricket Club.
The President of Norden Cricket Club, Brian Butterworth, said: “We use to play cricket together. He was a decent cricketer when he was younger.
“He was very easy to get along with. I would class him as one of my specific friends.
“We always kept in touch and I used to see him regularly in the cricket season.”
A post on the Rochdale AFC website, said: “The club would like to pass on our deepest sympathies to all Brian's family.”
A neighbour described Mr Johnson as a “lovely man” adding “He was very polite. He kept himself to himself but he always said hello.”
Michael concluded: “He will be sadly missed by a lot of people.”
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