Obituary: Antonio Ortolano of Ralph and Tony hairdressers

Antonio Ortolano of Ralph & Tony. NNL-150605-124504001
Antonio Ortolano of Ralph & Tony. NNL-150605-124504001

Tomorrow (Friday) Banbury bids a sad goodbye to one of its most well known local businessmen, Antonio (Tony) Ortolano.

Mr Ortolano, of Ralph and Tony hairdressers on 53A Parsons Street, died peacefully aged 72 at Horton General Hospital following a long illness.

He leaves behind his wife Wendy, his son Domenico, 46, his daughter Nina, who is 44, and his brother Mario, who is in his late 60s.

Born in Orsogna, Italy on the shores of the Adriatic Sea in 1942, Mr Ortolano travelled to Banbury aged just 17.

With little more than the clothes on his back and little knowledge of English, Mr Ortolano worked in several local hairdressers until January 1965 when he partnered up with Ralph Crispino to launch Ralph & Tony barbershop, which he helped run until his retirement in 2006.

The barbershop, now run by Tony’s son Domenico, quickly became a local favourite among the town’s hip young crowd and Mr Ortolano’s skill earned him and his shop a loyal clientele that persists to this day.

A keen footballer and sportsman, Mr Ortolano was known to play for Banbury Spencer Football Club. His wife of 47 years and fellow hairdresser, Wendy, said: “I think the first week it opened it was very quiet but then it just went really well.

“Tony used to have people come from all around – even from London – to have their hair cut. Hair was very fashionable in those days and everybody had to have their hair cut perfectly.

“He knew so many people. He was just well liked by everybody.”

Nina Ortolano added: “He was a perfectionist, everything had to be just so, nothing could be messed about.

“But he was a happy person, bright and cheerful, and he wanted everybody else to be happy. He would do anything for anybody.”

The funeral service will be held at Banbury Crematorium tomorrow (Friday) at 12pm. The family request in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Breathe Easy Group c/o J & Humpris, 32 Albert Street..