A FURNITURE salesman and well-known face in both Oxford and Abingdon has been described as a "true businessman" after passing away at the start of September.

Ron Rawlings, 88, grew up in South Hinksey and dropped out of school at a young age to follow in his father's footsteps at the Bodleian Library.

But just a short time later he took a job at the Starlings furniture, flooring and carpet store in Hythe Bridge Street, which at the time was being commissioned by the government to put up blackout curtains around all the larger buildings in Oxford.

After a break in his career for National Service in the Parachute Regiment from 1946 to 1948 the young Mr Rawlings returned to work at the store, completing his training in 1950 and taking on responsibility for 18 staff on the shop floor.

Later he moved into the role of director at Vineys furniture store in Abingdon, a well-established firm set up in 1897 and still operating to this day.

As well as his work Mr Rawlings was devoted to golf, the "love of his life" alongside three wives and two daughters, and was a member of North Oxford Golf Club.

Third wife Bridget Rawlings, 74, said: "Ron was very good at his job. He got on extremely well with people and liked to help people in new businesses.

"He would put work people's way and was really quite a generous man. There was a bit of a rod of iron to him.

"He liked swimming and we did a tremendous amount of walking. He was loving, generous-hearted and lots of fun."

Dr Andrew Edwards, Mr Rawlings's son-in-law, said he "championed other people and helped them set up their businesses.

"He was supportive and encouraging and an expert in buying furniture. He lived his values and was a true businessman."

For the past seven years Mr Rawlings struggled with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He died peacefully on Friday, September 2.

His funeral was held yesterday at South Oxfordshire Crematorium in Garford, with family members then paying a visit to Millets Farm, where he used to spend time with Bridget.