A lovable grandfather who went viral for his distinctive laugh during an interview after a Batman-inspired thief tried to rob his family store has died surrounded by his family.
Raymond Rowe was most well known for his lighthearted response to the brazen break and enter of his family-run Trash Converters store in Newcastle.
The wannabe thief dressed in a Batman mask, cape and g-string for the 2014 attempted robbery.
Far from concerned, the 83-year-old grandfather-of-seven told reporters at the time the man was less like Batman and more like one of the caped crusader’s rivals.
‘What a joker!’ Mr Rowe said.
The one-liner sent him into a fit of giggles, which eventually became iconic in its own right.
Mr Rowe’s only daughter Michelle told Daily Mail Australia despite the pain her father felt in his last few days, he was laughing right until the very end.
Mr Rowe’s only daughter Michelle told Daily Mail Australia despite the pain her father felt in his last few days, he was laughing right until the very end
‘He had such a comical personality, so sociable, always smiling. He didn’t live in pain for months or years. His death was quick which I’m grateful for,’ she said.
Mr Rowe loved the idea that he had brought joy to so many people who watched his viral video, and it was a memory he cherished.
‘He loved that moment. He still talked about it right up until the very end. He loved the limelight and that he could make people laugh.
‘We were actually just talking about his time as an internet sensation at his funeral. He loved that he was on the television.’
Deemed ‘Australia’s biggest Joker’ by many, Ms Rowe said the timing of her father’s death and the release of the new Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix was almost uncanny.
‘I saw the preview just this morning and was thinking about it… Its crazy to still see him in the world around us.’
Mr Rowe loved the idea that he had brought joy to so many people who watched his viral video, and it was a memory he cherished
Mr Rowe died on Sunday August 25th, but his family say they had seen a slow decline in his health over an 18 month period.
While he tried not to slow down, Ms Rowe feared he mightn’t survive the end of 2018, so her eldest son brought forward his wedding to accommodate.
‘We’re so lucky we did bring it forward,’ Ms Rowe said.
Her father died four weeks before the original wedding date.
‘He was fine on Wednesday, he came to the shop and brought me food. But by Thursday he woke up howling. He was convinced he’d developed another kidney stone.
‘There was just so much pain. By Sunday he was needing to be admitted to the ICU but he wasn’t accepted.
‘He wouldn’t have wanted to be anyway. All his organs were failing, he didn’t want that.’
Raymond Rowe was most well known for his lighthearted response to the brazen break and enter of his family-run Trash Converters store in Newcastle
Ms Rowe said she genuinely believes it’s a miracle he didn’t die of a broken heart.
He’d spent the last 14 years a widow after his wife, and Ms Rowe’s mother, died in 2004.
‘He only really held on for me and my children, so he was ready to go. I think he’d been ready about 18 months.
‘He loved his wife. He cried right up until the very last day when he was talking about my mother. He was missing her for so long, so he did very well to not die of a broken heart in that time,’ she said.
Mr Rowe’s death was a great loss to the tight knit community. He’d been a fixture in the local area since he was a child and often made time to chat to everyone.
Even in his old age, Mr Rowe continued to pick up local people’s rubbish and make an effort to help out in every way he could.
‘He was just an awesome bloke, he really just wanted to talk to everyone, to make people laugh and smile,’ his daughter said.
‘He always had these wonderful stories and people would get swept up in listening to him… Everyone tells me they will miss his stories the most.