Community mourns popular former funeral director

Tony Greathead at The Earth Centre
Tony Greathead at The Earth Centre

Renowned ex-undertaker Tony Greathead brought hundreds of mourners flocking to a very special Conisbrough funeral this week – his own.

The much-loved former funeral director and local historian died at his Conisbrough home from a brain tumour on January 15.

Conducting the service, the Rev Alan Griffiths said Tony, whose full name was John Edward Anthony Greathead, was considered to be one of the town’s best known residents, and was even to referred to as “Mr Conisbrough”,

He said: “It would be difficult indeed to find anyone in Conisbrough who had not met, or at least heard of Tony.

“He played such an important part in Conisbrough life and was held in high esteem by all”, he added.

The packed church was told how Tony had lived all his life in the town, attending Morley Place School, Northcliffe School and the Mexborough Tech.

He qualified as a joiner and joined the family firm Greathead Brothers which was then a joiners, builders and undertakers. This later became J E Greathead & Son Funeral Directors.

Mr Griffiths said Tony “loved his work and being able to care for people at difficult times in their lives”.

“He cared passionately for Conisbrough and the people who lived here”, he added.

Tony married June in 1968, and the couple had two children, Jane and Edward.

After his retirement from the funeral business in 1987, Tony dedicated his life to local research and published a local history book, ‘Photographs of Old Conisbrough’, with June in 1991. They sold 5,000 copies all over the world.

A member of Conisbrough Heritage Group, he also worked tirelessly to prevent open cast mining on Sheffield Road and helped fight it with the “Crusade” campaign.

One of his greatest finds as a historian was the Conisbrough Court Roll and all it signified for the town.

He served for three years on the local council and was a magistrate at Doncaster for 15 years.

After the service his family attended a private cremation service, before a wake at the Ivanhoe Centre.

Speaking to the Times this week, Mrs Greathead said Tony would be greatly missed – especially for his bad jokes.

She said: “He was such popular man. He knew everyone and it didn’t matter who they were, he would always make time to talk to people.

“He was famous for his bad jokes, which he would repeat all the time, often forgetting the punchlines.

“He was a very fit and healthy man – largely because he cycled a lot and was a keen walker right up until last year and the moment he collapsed in April.

“The doctors said he only survived afterwards because he had such amazingly strong lungs and heart. Had he been any less fit he would have died immediately.”

Although he was cared for in a hospice, Tony had enjoyed a last “hearty” Christmas lunch and spent his final days at home, cared for by June.

She said: “Even when he was very ill, he would say ‘what have I got to be unhappy about?’.

“He had such a busy and full life which wasn’t surprising given his family motto was “Never resting”.

She added: “Tony was a great admirer of Winston Churchill who used to write “KBO” on his letters. KBO meant “Keep Buggering On” and that was Tony’s motto.

“He cared about things being right and there wasn’t anything that he wouldn’t get involved in and support – from cycling clubs, to the Scout group, to local history groups and the Rotary Club, the Earth Centre and stopping the open cast mining.

“He is greatly missed.”