A service was held for Guiseppe Molica-Franco, known as Joe, on Wednesday, September 9, at St Catherine’s Church in Beach Road, Littlehampton, before being taken to Littlehampton Cemetery in Horsham Road, where he was buried near his parents.
Born on March 18, 1963, Joe’s parents, Rita and Frank, owned and ran Sandfields Nursery in Lyminster where they grew flowers and plants.
Joe, who was 57, ran his own building business.
He was known for the large, stuffed toy gorilla he would have in the back of his truck which brought smiles to many, and was particularly popular with children, who would pose for photos with it, and online, where residents would post their sightings of the eyecatching passenger.
He had 10 children, four stepchildren and eight grandchildren – including his youngest daughter, Lilymae, 10, who liked to paint his nails.
Joe suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for many years, but was stable. He spent the last six months of his life in Turkey, and died suddenly of a heart attack on August 10.
To recognise his fun-loving nature, the toy gorilla featured in the funeral procession, as did a large primate made of flowers.