A DEVOTED wife has vowed to carry on the family business after her funeral director husband died from a massive heart attack aged just 49.
Kevin Hepworth was rushed to the University Hospital of Hartlepool after suffering breathing difficulties.
But his wife, Lesley, 50, who travelled in the ambulance with him, said despite attempts to resuscitate him, her loving husband was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Lesley said: “He was the love of my life, he was just a lovely man and a special person.
“Forty-nine is no age. He did a funeral a few weeks ago for a 62-year-old and he said 62 was no age.
“I’m thinking now I’d do anything for another 12 or 13 years with him.”
Lesley, who said focusing on fulfilling Kevin’s wishes by keeping the business going was keeping her strong, added: “Being a funeral director was just something that came naturally to him.
“He just knew what to say and was comforting.
“I got 102 condolence cards. A lot of those were from people he had worked for, everybody knew him.”
The couple had three children between them, Tommy, 24, Jane, 23, and Josie, 19.
They also had grandchildren called Holly, who is three, and two-year-old Lewis.
Family man Kevin had run Kevin Hepworth Funeral Directors, in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, for the past 20 years.
From being 16, he had trained with the Co-operative Funeralcare and had a stint working at Easington pit in his late 20s, before setting up his own business.
His own send-off was a traditional affair, with a service at St Mary’s Church, in Easington Village, attended by more than 200 people.
Lesley, who worked with Kevin in administration for the family business, said she was by his side “24-7”.
Lesley described her shock at her husband’s sudden death. “There were no problems whatsoever - he had a bit of high blood pressure, but he was fine the night we went to bed.
“We had had family round for Sunday dinner and we had gone for a drive on the night.”
She said her husband was a well-respected funeral director who served the community of east Durham.
Lesley, from Easington Colliery, added: “Kevin was really committed to his job and his family.
“He didn’t want any fuss for his own funeral.
“He used to joke ‘if anything happens to me, take me to the crematorium and don’t tell anybody until the day after’.
“He was a joker and an entertainer.
“He was a big man, 5ft 11ins and 17st, and had a big personality.”
Kevin, who had raised thousands of pounds for charity, including Mencap, passed away on April 18.