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A great guy and a great character who liked to get things done

Kevin Fearon, pictured during a stoush with the Land Transport Safety Authority, which he said was overly bureaucratic. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

PAM GRAHAM
[email protected]

Kevin Fearon is being remembered as someone who cared about his community and made a difference to it.

The 72-year-old died peacefully at home on October 21 after a short illness. A private cremation took place last Tuesday.

The family say there will be an informal get-together to celebrate his life in early December.

Fearon is survived by his wife Alexandra Johnston, who he was with for 22 years, and he was father and father-in-law of Trasna and Paul, Tanisha and the late Stuart Wardle, Phaedra-Dawn, and Travis and Kellie.

Fearon was a family man, who also knew a huge and diverse range of people from MPs to truck drivers.

He cared about fairness and loyalty, and he was a very generous person, Johnston said.

“He loved Wairarapa.”

Fearon was born in Lower Hutt on June 6, 1946, and had an older sister and a twin sister.

Formal schooling ended with school certificate and a varied working life began – he used to say he had had 50 jobs by the time he was 50 years old.

Friends recall a hugely intelligent person, a very perceptive and lateral thinker with a phenomenal memory and a natural ability for business.

He was well-read, and had a library of about 3000 books, including three he had published, two of which he wrote.

Former Masterton Mayor Bob Francis said Fearon was a great guy and a great character.

“I’ve just pulled out a book from my library by him,” Francis said. “It was about Te Wharau.”

In his business life he built up Fearon Logging from one logging truck to 24, employing more than 30 people. The business was eventually sold to McCarthy Transport.

Fearon Logging had the contract to haul all logs from the forests Japanese company Juken Nissho purchased in Wairarapa in the late 1990s. Fearon Logging transported them to the mill Juken built in Masterton.

Francis said Fearon ran a smart business and was a good employer.

“He really built that business into a really big business and did a great job and formed a special relationship with Juken,” he said.

Paul Jordan, JNL Masterton’s mill manager, said Fearon also saw opportunities to build up businesses dealing with logging residues and those businesses still existed today.

Fearon continued to invest in the region, developing an industrial park at Waingawa.

Even though he was a long-time logging truck operator and his friends talked about his fight for better roads, Johnston recalls that he was a mover in developing assets that took about half the logging trucks off the region’s roads.

Logging handler C3, a giant international company, is one of the tenants at Waingawa where they measure and code logs that are ultimately transported by train to Wellington’s port. The site is essentially a successful inland port that will expand further as more rail rolling stock becomes available.

Fearon was an advocate for the model and as a landowner helped it all to happen.

“Every log that goes on trains at Waingawa goes through Kevin’s yard,” Johnston said.

Francis said in retirement Fearon became a major advocate for stronger representation, especially for rural areas.

Kevin Fearon, left, and Bill Roberts on one of the seats they installed on the upper track at the Riversdale Southern Reserve – they also built the track. PHOTO/FILE

One of his great mates was Bill Roberts who said he met Fearon out of the blue relatively late in life because they both had houses at Riversdale Beach. “We became the closest of mates, because that is the kind of guy he was.”

They teamed up to get some quite large projects done.

Roberts is the Riversdale Beach Ratepayers’ Association president and recalls that Fearon didn’t want such a role, saying: “I don’t want any of that political bullshit, I’ll just be on the end of a shovel.”

The pair decided the Masterton council wasn’t doing anything with land it had at the beach and talked then Masterton mayor Garry Daniell into letting them put some walking tracks into the southern reserve.

“Kevin had a mate in town with a big digger and we started the next morning. I think they thought we were going to do it with a bucket and a spade.

“In two days we had a track 3km long,” he said.

Johnston recalls council staff referred to the track as a “state highway” but its scale meant it had withstood the test of time and was used by many people.

“A wee track would have been overgrown in six months, so he did the right thing,” Johnston said.

One councillor suggested it would be nice to have a track up into the hills.

“Kevin took that as permission and put in a big track up the hill and it is a wonderful asset.”

Roberts said Fearon was a very hard worker.

“He built his own house out there at the beach and he was not a builder. He believed in getting out there and doing it, not talking about it.”

Fearon also contributed to many charitable organisations.

He hit the headlines with a $7000 donation to re-instate the Archer St cemetery gates in Masterton in the midst of a controversy about them being removed. The donation prompted an accusation of “chequebook democracy” but Johnston said Fearon had wanted to pay for them anonymously and felt it was for the history and safety of the town.

Fearon was a private person and there seem to be more stories about him round town than there are in the newspaper archives.

He didn’t go to funerals and one was not held for him.

Fearon had apparently always said, “I want to go up the chimney – put something in the paper later.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. i was shocked to hearof kevins passing today.[nov 6] i was informed by a yardman at mastertons goldpine branch.i am a transport contractor,and deliver steel product into the wairarapa from lower hutt,and first met kevin when i asked about his old red ford at his place in waingawa,from there he showed me his car collection in the shed,and told me of his childhood in wainuiomata.every time after then,when i delivered some steel for one of his ventures,he had something new to show me.the last was a black ford mercury car.i only knew kevin for a couple of years,but in such a short time he managed to leave a very favourable impression with me.i enjoyed our conversations.one of lifes real gems.

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