Many residents got in touch with the Advertiser following news of James Ray's death after he was killed by a gang in Manchester on his 70th birthday.
A murder probe has now been launched following his death on Friday, November 19, and residents who knew James from his time as the owner of The Old Tradition got in touch to share their memories.
Family-friend, Nigel Morgan, said he knew James for more than 35 years after meeting him in the pub and described his ‘devastation’ when he heard the news of his death.
He said: “I met him when he first opened the pub and got to know him and his family closely. We both lived in Bilton, very near to each other.
“There was always a whole mix of people who used to go in there from all walks of life. There was a good atmosphere and that was all down to James
“He was a passionate person with a good sense of humour. He had time for everyone, he was so welcoming and that’s why the pub was so full.
“The news came as a great shock and a great loss to everyone that knew him. He was very much a people person, very outgoing, for something like this to happen to him is just tragic.”
Giles Rocholl said he also met James at The Old Tradition and remembers the pub being extremely popular because of him.
He said: “It’s very sad, he always wanted to get involved in the local community, always friendly when you went to his bar, people really loved that venue.
“He was a really popular guy and a very well known Harrogate character who added real life to the community.”
Many residents have responded with their own tributes on the Advertiser’s Facebook page, praising the pub and sending well-wishes to his family.
Graham Wiles said it was ‘sad news indeed’ describing him as ‘a lovely chap’ while Gillian Reay-Young said ‘How very sad. Condolences to his family’.
Diane Edwards said: “I can’t believe this. Worked with him at the Old Trad for a few years . Shocking news. Condolences to his family.
Robert Morgan said The Old Tradition was a ‘great pub’ when James owned it while Bob Morgan said he was ‘shocked and stunned at this awful news’.