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Carl Willows (1947 - 2017)

Posted on | By Thornton Kay
Norfolk, UK - Carl Willows, who has died aged 69, was a writer and latterly an auction expert and valuer.

Willows oversaw his final sale at T W Gaze in Diss in March 2015 after twenty years in charge of architectural salvage, bygones and toy sales, as expert and valuer. A lot at this auction was a shooting stick which had been awarded to him in 1967 for pig judging - a poignant connection to his rural teenage self.

He moved to London in the 60s to concentrate on writing, supporting himself with fill-in jobs one of which was road-sweeping. <i>Something lost in agriculture</i> was published when he was 22 in the Daily Telegraph 1969 Young Writer Of The Year book, as one story in a collection of seventeen recording social issues in modern day Britain. The story reflected Willows' empathy with rural workers and their tools a snippet of which reads <i>no subsidy aids a farm labourer to turn a neat furrow … but we need his enlightenment to carry us forward.</i>

<i>Oh Sail</i>, a play, asked whether people were controlled by, or in control of, their environment, and what was the meaning of existence. The play was aired twice in 1973 on the BBC Third Programme, produced by Gerry Jones, starred Geoffrey Matthews and Jane Wenham.

Not being a natural city-dweller, Carl eventually returned to East Anglia where he started a family and worked as a gardener. He was for a while director of a Thetford garden centre. Then a job opportunity arose in his home town of Diss and Mr. Willows joined Gaze's Roydon Road salerooms in 1994.

He expanded the firms architectural, bygones and toy sales, oversaw the sale of many important single-owner bygones collection, and built Gaze's reputation among buyers and collectors across the UK, western Europe and America.

Julia Shantz, a Canadian dealer, wrote of her sadness. 'Carl was a gentleman, kind hearted, generous, and a loss to the salvage world. We knew him for twenty years and always looked forward to catching up, one time during filming of a TV show and Carl had a haircut and a beard trim. He was not comfortable with that! Next time he was back to his glorious look and I felt oddly comforted. My fond memory of Carl will always be his threadbare hacking jacket, mustard courderoys, educated soft spoken voice - and roll-ups. He will be dearly missed.'

Alex Puddy spoke for many, including all at Salvo, when he wrote that Carl was one of the nicest people in the trade, and that whether buying or selling his beard stroking pontifications with that smoke toned voice will be sadly missed.

Saxon Durrant had thought that Carl would live out a long and happy retirement. 'He was a lovely man and a priceless asset to Gaze whose catalogue descriptions of rustic paraphernalia were a joy and an education. My thoughts are with his family and all at Gaze.'

Tony D'Almeida said he was the kindest person, always willing to help and give advice. Tony offered deepest condolences to his family and friends. Adam Hills said it was very sad and he was a lovely guy and offered condolences.

Guy Trench said he was sorry to hear the sad news, and that Carl was knowledgeable and a good friend who would come to the Salvo fair to see what had been created from Gaze auction lots, with a lovely big grin on his face when he saw Guy's upcycling ideas.

Carl in his role of promoting the salvage and bygones auctions at T W Gaze was a regular exhibitor at the annual Salvo fairs. One year he commented, 'This year's fair was an absolute cracker. Very positive. We picked up new sellers, and new buyers ... may even have sold a house.' The Salvo team all miss Carl and think he was an 'absolute cracker' too.

Carl leaves a wife and four sons, of who Rupert works for Gaze, and Boz is a thatcher.

Anthony Carl Willows cremation is a private family event. Later that day on Wednesday 27th September at 3pm there will be a gathering at The Swan in Hoxne open to all and 'in the true Carl Willows spirit'.

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There were several online tributes we ask that people consider adding comments to this obituary using the Disqus system at the end of this story on SalvoNEWS. (Click the title above to get to it)

T W Gaze Llp Salvo Directory 09 Aug 2005

Story Type: News