Tributes have been paid to a Blackpool entrepreneur who had operated successful property businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
Max Smith died on Monday August 26 aged 74 after a long battle with cancer.
Mr Smith, of Ansdell, was first diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a type of blood cancer, 28 years ago, but his quality of life had been improved by the drug Ruxolitinib.
Earlier this year he spoke out in support of the drug being made widely available to other sufferers after the NHS was advised it should not be legally obliged to fund it.
Mr Smith came to Blackpool aged 18 to work as a journalist on The Gazette’s sister paper the Lancashire Evening Post.
When he was 20, he left the paper to go travelling including to Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and parts of South America, and on his return set about building up his business empire.
He bought up a string of hotels and holiday apartments, and then leased them to individual operators, advising and financing others to help them be successful as well.
Mr Smith also bought property in Florida including a set of rundown buildings and boat docks in a prime part of Fort Lauderdale which he transformed using a team of workers flown out from Blackpool.
His friend Alan Chester said: “Backed by his wife, Val, who he had married when she was just 17,they went on to build a very successful business with a string of hotels and holiday apartments.
“Max was a remarkable man and well known throughout Blackpool. He was a highly successful businessman, but also a very kind man.
“Friends who had known him for many, many years all say the same thing of him. They never heard him say a bad word about anyone. They all felt privileged to have known him. He will be sorely missed by many.”
Mr Smith was a former president of the Blackpool Rotary Club and was also involved with the Abbeyfield Society, a charity which operates non-profit care homes in Blackpool.
Its chairman Bill McNaughton said: “Max endured a long fight against illness with such bravery and optimism that he was an inspiration to all of us who knew him.
“The advice and guidance he gave us was always welcome and helpful and we knew it came from a wealth of experience he brought to us.”
One of the major schemes Mr Smith was involved in was an ambitious bid to redevelop a stretch of hotels on The Crescent on South Promenade with high rise apartments.
He was also an avid supporter of Blackpool Football Club.
He leaves his wife Val, their children Haidee, Max Jnr and Andrew, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
The funeral service was being held today at Lytham Crematorium.