By Hayley Gastmeier
Rugby and athletics stalwart Ron Hughes was farewelled yesterday at a funeral in Featherston.
More than 500 people packed out the Anzac Hall to share and hear memories of the man who contributed to Wairarapa’s sporting community like no other.
Archdeacon May Croft led the service, saying Mr Hughes, 85, was “a man full of energy and commitment”.
“If you knew Ron, then you would know his life was lived to the full.”
She read words Mr Hughes had written before he died, last Thursday, after battling for some time with health issues.
Mr Hughes was born in Christchurch, and moved to Featherston after getting a job at the New Zealand Farmers Co-op Distributing Company.
There he met his wife of 52 years, Patsy (nee Cadwallader), after first seeing her in a photograph on top of a piano at her parents’ house.
Eulogies were read by Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union president Richard Dahlberg, and close friends Ray Wallis, Tony Beech, Neville Taylor, and Don Watkins, with all mentioning Mr Hughes’ knack for raffles.
Mr Dahlberg said “Ron was the backbone of the Featherston Rugby Club for many years”.
Mr Wallis recalled the day he bestowed upon Mr Hughes the nickname “Slippers”, after Ron turned up to a meeting having forgotten to put his shoes on.
Junior Advisory Board’s Mr Beech said a recent visit to Mr Hughes reminded him of times past, with “Ron falling asleep mid-sentence, then waking up and carrying on in all our meetings”.
A photo tribute was shown, with many images of Mr Hughes as a child taken by his photographer grandfather.
As Mr Hughes’ casket was carried outdoors to the waiting hearse, the School Hymn of Christchurch’s St Andrew’s College was played – a place from which Mr Hughes held fond memories.
Following the service Mr Hughes’ son Garry described how he and his three siblings were all “chips off the old man’s block” – himself as being “loud and abrasive”, Helen as “hilarious”, Ian being the sportsman, and Tracey inheriting her father’s strength.