OLD TOWN — The long-time owner of Tipre Hardware in Old Town died unexpectedly Thursday night.
Co-workers and customers of Joe Tipre's hardware store are remembering him as a staple of the neighborhood and friend to all.
"People have been pouring in," said Jeremy Klein, who has worked at the store, 229 W North Ave., for the past 17 years. "He knew people. He knew the people in the neighborhood, their families."
There was a somber mood inside the hardware store Saturday afternoon, where a large poster board on the window of the business announced Tipre's passing and details for his services.
Tipre, who had ran the storefront business at 229 W. North Ave. since 1978, suffered a massive heart attack at his home Thursday night, according to colleagues.
Tipre, who was 59 years old, was always behind the counter, usually working six days a week, and was a know-it-all when it came to a fix.
"Part of it was you went in there because he knew what parts you needed to fix things, and made sure his staff thought the same way," said Tim Carew, a long-time customer. "He's a classic small business kind of guy."
Before renaming it Tipre Hardware, Joe Tipre started working at the hardware store at the same location when he was just 14 years old. He met his wife, Kim, while he was working at that business.
Kim Tipre runs her own business, Finishing Touches Interiors, directly adjacent to the hardware store.
Tipre Hardware was more than just a neighborhood hardware store, it was a meeting place for customers - and for Tipre. He knew all of those customers, and he even gave out free bags of popcorn in the store.
"He was the reason it is still going," Klein said.
Tipre and his wife had four children, Joe, Nick, Vince and Mercedes, and five grandchildren.
For Klein, Tipre was one of the most genuine people he had ever met. Tipre took Klein into his home when he was kicked out of his own when he was 18-years-old. Tipre gave him a job at the hardware store, and although Klein was paying rent while he lived at the Tipre's, when he moved out Tipre repaid him all the money he had been stashing away.
"He took me in," Klein said. "He was just a carrying, giving guy."
Services for Joe Tipre will be held Sunday at Immaculate Conception Church, 1431 N. North Park Ave. from 4-7 p.m.