LANDLORD Jim Fowkes was getting ready to celebrate 21 years since he first took over a pub with his wife.
But his life was tragically cut short just days before he and wife Rachel planned to throw a huge party together at Owens, in Palmerston Road, Southsea.
Mr Fowkes, 56, collapsed and died in his office at the back of the pub after a major valve in his heart burst.
Devastated Mrs Fowkes, 42, today paid tribute to him.
‘I can’t believe he’s gone. I’ve spent half my life here with him,’ she said. ‘Owens was our home together. He was larger than life and popular with everyone.’
The couple met when Mr Fowkes ran The Bridge Inn, in Gravesend, Kent, where Mrs Fowkes worked as a barmaid.
They took over Owens in 1991 and were there for 11 years before Mr Fowkes needed a double heart bypass.
They then ran The Red Lion Hotel, in London Road, Cosham, before returning to Owens at the start of last year.
At the weekend they were due to celebrate their return with an evening of food and live music in aid of Help for Heroes. But it was cancelled after Mr Fowkes’ sudden death last Wednesday.
Kevin Usher, 59, who runs The Wheatsheaf pub, in Hawthorn Road, Bognor Regis, had been friends with Mr Fowkes for 20 years.
‘We always used to meet up and have a laugh together,’ he said. ‘He was a top bloke. I’m going to miss him.’
Mr Fowkes’s funeral will take place at Portchester Crematorium on Friday, January 27.