restaurants in Marlborough are mourning the death of one of their favourite customers, Robert Hill, a successful businessman and stalwart of the town golf club.

Robert was a leading figure in the waste management, quarrying and house building company, The Hills Group, for more than four decades.

In his home town, Marlborough, he was the customer every restaurant owner dreams of because few were the days when he did not have either lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants in town, especially at Pino’s Italian restaurant in New Road.

It was a bitter irony that Robert, 74, who lived in Marlborough with his barrister wife Rosie, died 24 hours before the start of Marlborough’s annual Jazz Festival.

The Hills Group sponsored the jazz event since it started and its opening on Friday was attended by Mrs Hill, his wife of 48 years, and included a minute’s silence for her husband.

Robert was born in 1939 at Okus in Swindon, the town where his grandfather Edward Hill had started a brickmakers in 1900.

Robert’s late father Grahame took over the business and passed it on to his youngest son Robert to run. It is now in the hands of his eldest son Michael, who is the chief executive.

From making bricks the Hills’ family business diversified into haulage and quarrying sand and gravel and at various stages also ran a tyre business, a builder’s merchant and bottled propane gas supplier in the Swindon area and further afield.

By the time Robert relinquished the chairmanship in 2008 it had become a multi-million pound business and one of the country’s leaders in waste management and recycling.

Alongside running one Wiltshire’s best known businesses, Robert devoted a lot of his energy to Marlborough Golf Club and its futuristic clubhouse that stands proudly on The Common and visible from long distances is a lasting memorial to him.

He was chairman of the golf club’s development committee at the time the clubhouse was built.

He met Rosie when she was studying law at Bristol University when Robert was also at the university. They were married in 1966 at Gray’s Inn in London. Robert is survived by Rosie, sons Mike, Chas, Bill, David and Jamie and 12 grandchildren.

He is also survived by one of his three brothers, Richard.