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Pioneering retailer remembered

Wairarapa’s Alex McLeod Snr died on August 23. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

By Emily Norman
[email protected]
A man, whose name was synonymous with retailing clothing in Wairarapa, has died at the age of 97.
Alex McLeod Snr, founder of Alex McLeod clothing shop in Featherston, was well-known throughout Wairarapa for his successful venture into the retail clothing business.
With six children, 23 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren, Mr McLeod has been described by his son Alex McLeod as “the strength of the family”.
“He was a wonderful father to the six of us,” Alex said.
“In 1980 Dad gave me one of his kidneys as I had renal failure.
“It was a wonderful gift of course, changed my life and my wife and my family’s lives as I was able to get back into normal life which I still do today.”
Mr McLeod first went to school at a convent in Carterton and then, for a short time attended Featherston District High School.
He was employed by the Carterton firm of Watsons at their Featherston shop at a time when the new Jockey underwear for men was marketed.
The shop he worked at would not stock the new underwear so Mr McLeod “bought a Baby Austin off Jim Johnson”, bought clothing from a warehouse in Wellington, and set out on business on his own account.
He would take hard-wearing clothing out to farmworkers all through Pirinoa, Kahutara, Western Lake, and as far east as Lagoon Hills and Te Awaiti.
“And back in those days he would have been out on some pretty rough roads,” his son Alex said.
“What he couldn’t sell to them from the van, he took orders for, and they were sent out the next day.”
“When dad started the Featherston business, it grew in size and popularity too, drawing a lot of customers from all over Wairarapa and further afield.”
When Alex and his brother Richard immersed themselves in the family business, opening a branch of McLeods in Carterton, and buying Bullick Blackmores in Masterton, Mr McLeod was “always there” for them.
“He trusted us and accepted change,” Alex said.
“He could see what we were trying to achieve and at times we made a few mistakes, but rather than knocking us back he would say, I see what you’re trying to achieve but maybe you should do it this way.”
Mr McLeod stepped away from the business in the late 70s to devote himself to his grandchildren and cope with “the vagaries of the whitebait season”.
“Dad would pop in occasionally to the shop just to see us, but he was always very busy throughout his retirement,” Alex said.
“He was right into bowling, fishing, duck shooting, he had a very busy social life, and he was into dancing.”
Other accomplishments in Mr McLeod’s lifetime included being a Flying Officer for 30 Sqdn of the RNZAF during World War 2..
He was also a life member of the Featherston Wrestling Club, and was the president of New Zealand Wrestling at the time of the 1974 Commonwealth Games.
A Requiem Mass for Mr McLeod A7 will be celebrated in St Mary’s Catholic Church, cnr High St South and King St in Carterton today at 1pm, followed by burial at the Greytown Lawn Cemetery.


  1. I fondly remember my Uncle Alex, what a great gentleman he was, what an example to all the family! The baton of the McLeod family tradition is now passed on to us descendants. We have much to live up to with his example. My deep sympathy and love to all who remain. Neil.

  2. Have just read the passing of Alex Snr. What a marvellous gentleman he was. A successful businessman primarily in Featherston, then laterly in Carterton. My thoughts go to his 6 children, in particular Alec junior and his many children, grand children and great grandchildren. What a remarkable age. Alex will never be forgotten

  3. I certainly remember Alex McLeod as a child in Featherston in the 1950s. Sympathies to the family. Cath (nee Habib) Kingston.

  4. Rest in Peace Alex McLeod I remember you very well as I went to school with all the children and often played at yourhouse…condolences and lovely memories from all the Cotter Clan

  5. Im so sorry to hear of his passing he sure was a fine gentleman I remember him when I was growing up in Featherston and always thought how nicely dressed he was all the time and always said hello.

  6. I just saw the notice on face book . I so wish I could have come over but is 3.03pm so thats not possible .My thoughts are with you all. I have so many wonderful memorys from my childhood that involved you all. Love Janet

  7. RIP Mr McLeod – you’ve made a lot of difference in people’s lives. Donna Chambers, Brisbane – (Daughter of the late Bernie and Gabrielle Flynn, Ruakokopatuna, Martinborough)

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