Son pays emotional tribute to legendary Leeds ice cream man John 'Kooler Bar' who has died

The son of legendary Leeds ice cream man 'Kooler Bar' has paid an emotional tribute following his death this week.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 12:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 2:00 pm

John Collier was one of the most popular people in Leeds with thousands of residents taking to social media to pay their respects after it was announced he had died aged 76 following a long battle against the lung condition pulmonary fibrosis.

John served ice creams to the people of Leeds for more than 40 years and was part of the childhoods of many residents from the 1970s until his retirement.

He mainly drove around the Harehills, Chapeltown and Scott Hall areas but also used to serve ice creams at weddings, parties and for companies.

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John Collier was one of the most popular people in Leeds, with thousands of residents taking to social media to pay their respects after it was announced he had died aged 76 following a long battle against the lung condition pulmonary fibrosis.
John Collier was one of the most popular people in Leeds, with thousands of residents taking to social media to pay their respects after it was announced he had died aged 76 following a long battle against the lung condition pulmonary fibrosis.

Thousands of emotional messages have been sent to his family - with some saying he was one of the kindest men they had ever met, often giving out ice creams for free to children.

Jon-Paul Collier, 38, said his dad was his "best friend".

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post how he had seen grown men "cry in the street" this week after the news that he had passed away.

Fighting back tears, Jon-Paul said: "He was my best mate.

John Collier was one of the most popular people in Leeds, with thousands of residents taking to social media to pay their respects after it was announced he had died aged 76 following a long battle against the lung condition pulmonary fibrosis.

"We did so much together and he did everything for his children.

"He was an ice cream man for more than 40 years and absolutely everyone knew him.

"I don't think I have any tears left now."

Jon-Paul said his dad was "not about making money" and he always prided himself on making his ice creams affordable for the communities he served.

He said his dad lived a "rollercoaster" of a life but always had a smile on his face.

Jon-Paul said: "His life was not easy.

"He maintained a smile on his face throughout.

"His customers were not just that, they were also his friends."

Jon-Paul told the YEP one of his dad's biggest achievements was winning an outstanding achievement community award in 2011.

He said: "The award meant so much to him.

"It took pride of place in his home.

"He treasured it and was very proud."

John suffered from pulmonary fibrosis - a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred.

He was given between three and five years to live in 2015.

His partner Elizabeth Santos, 64, supported him during his courageous battle and he outlived the expectations given by doctors.

He peacefully passed away with his son and his partner by his side this week.

John worked up until he was almost 70 years old but sold the business around seven years ago after his diagnosis meant he could no longer continue.

John's family - including his daughter Ferrari - are now launching a bid to be reunited with his 'Kooler Bar' van to follow his hearse at his funeral.

Contact our reporter on [email protected] with information regarding the whereabouts of John's van.