OBITUARY: Dennis Hargreaves

12 January 2024

It is with great sadness we announce the death of Dennis Hargreaves, who died in November 2023 aged 86. The funeral was held on Tuesday 12 December at Kingston crematorium, followed by a celebration of Dennis’s life. Dennis was with Johnson (now Johnson Service Group) since 1965 and was founder manager of Apparelmaster. In later years he was a Board director and became industry ambassador for Johnson Service Group serving on numerous committees. He was President of the Textile Services Association in 1997, a member of the European Textile Services Association, Master of the Worshipful Company of Launderers (2001-2002) and a member of the Whitsters’ Club. Dennis is survived by his Doreen and their four children, Linda, Carol, Bernard and Anthony and many grandchildren.

Dennis served the industry well and was known for his warm, mannerly and friendly approach to all matters. He also had a keen eye for keeping the industry focused. Dennis was a true ambassador to the textile care industry and a regular attendee of social events with Doreen at his side. He gave his time generously to all who asked for help.

Dennis was a popular member of the Worshipful Company of Launderers, joining the Court in 1996 and helping in guiding the Company to receive its Royal Charter in 2010. Dennis loved the Livery, his contributions to the Company are immeasurable, he was an asset to the Court and all the Committees on which he sat.

Dennis was born and grew up in Rochdale, Lancashire. Following an education at Chadderton Grammar he joined the Police Cadets in 1952. Shortly after he met Doreen, marrying a few years later.

In 1956 Dennis left the Police Force to do National Service in the RAF serving in Singapore and Malaya. On leaving the RAF Dennis had numerous jobs including as a Manager of Gents Outfitters as well as being a part-time voluntary Fireman.

In 1965 Dennis joined Johnson’s, the drycleaners based in Bootle, Liverpool, working for the retail side of the business. After a few years he was transferred to the workwear division as a founder manager operating the Apparelmaster workwear franchise. Subsequently, he was promoted to managing director of the James Hayes subsidiary, a large and significant linen rental company.

Dennis very much enjoyed his family life and loved to travel, often visiting Texas to see his favourite country singer, Dale Watson and also enjoyed fine wine and food. One of Dennis’s greatest passions was Marine Football Club in Crosby, Liverpool. He joined in the 1970’s serving as President twice for a total of 14 years, seeing them to great success in the 1990’s. He continued to support them for the remainder of his life even attending as often as he could from his home in London. Other passions included canals, boating and cruising. He owned two boats over the years. He also had a great love of many genres of music, attending concerts over the years and he loved the theatre.

“As a Johnson’s main board director he and the company sponsored Marine FC in a number ways for over 20 years, said Club Chairman Paul Leary. “We are really saddened to hear the news of Dennis’s passing this week. He had a long association with Marine both as a supporter, friend and sponsor spanning back to the 1970’s. Dennis particularly enjoyed the Marine successes of the 1990’s winning the NPL League twice and the FA Cup exploits against Rochdale, Halifax and Barnsley.” 

Following Dennis’ death, the club held a minute’s silence prior to the next home game against Ilkeston Town in memory of Dennis.

Dennis’s daughter Linda Walshe said: “Dennis had been quite unwell for a number of years with chronic kidney disease (caused by his diabetes) and other medical complications associated with that. My dad was such a private and dignified man, and even if it took half the day, he would still look spick and span! He had a couple of small falls at home at the end of October, after the second one, the paramedics strongly suggested that he went to hospital to find the cause. We expected he would only be in for a few days …but this turned into three weeks, in the latter part of which he sadly contracted pneumonia. 

“I was able to stay with my mum during this time, so we went in to visit him every day. All my siblings came to the hospital during his last few days, so he was never alone. He was so brave.

“It means a lot to all the family that so many people have taken the time to send such lovely accounts of how much my dad meant to them. We had so many wonderful emails, cards and letters in the coming weeks from his friends and colleagues in the industry, which brought great comfort to us all. He was obviously held in such high esteem throughout his career, not only in a professional way, but as a dearly loved friend. 

“The funeral service was lovely, attended by several of the Past Masters of the WCL.”

LCN Editor Kathy Bowry writes: “Dennis was amazingly kind to me when I took over as editor of LCN in March 2016 and he took it on himself to educate me about the industry and its history. Dennis told me all about his time at Johnson and Apparelmaster. He organised a trip to the Apparelmaster laundry in Southwick in East Sussex so I could see what goes on and was a massive help to me. He really extended the hand of friendship. I also enjoyed meeting up with him and Doreen at various events organised by WCL and the Whitsters. It was always a pleasure to see them.

“Dennis won the top accolade – Lifetime Achievement - at our 2018 LCN Awards. It was well deserved for this man who spent virtually his entire career in textile care where he has mentored, befriended, innovated, encouraged, driven ideas and definitely held high the torch of best practice in the industry. The announcement drew a roar of approval and a standing ovation as Dennis accepted the award.

“He was a wonderful man and left his mark on the world which is a worse place without him in it. He will be sadly missed – a phrase that is often heard in these circumstances, but in this instance, very true.”

All at LCN send their heartfelt condolences and best wishes to Doreen and the family.

• If you would like to leave a tribute for Dennis, you can make a donation to Marine FC on the following link

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