Lawrence Richard Tregurtha (1933-2014) – A Tribute

This is written as a tribute to Lawrence on the first anniversary of his death on 12 February 2014.     

Lawrence was born in Westport on the west coast of NZ’s South Island on 3 June 1933, the 2nd by a whisker of 3 children born to Percy and Rita Tregurtha. Lawrence and his twin sister Lois joined 5 year old sister Irene to complete the family lineup.  Sadly their mother Rita died from meningitis when the twins were 5 months old.  Fortunately Percy had an unmarried sister Hilda to call on to help care for these 3 youngsters.  Hilda immediately moved into the family home and became surrogate mother to those children.

PHTO2878.JPGPercy remarried Doris Taylor when Lawrence and Lois were five years old.  Hilda at Doris’ insistence remained in the Bright St home as Doris recognised the wonderful part Hilda had played in the upbringing of these three children.  The family of 3 kids eventually grew to number six as Doris gave birth to Lynn, Dorothy and finally Paul, by which time Lawrence was attending Westport Technical College.

Lawrence left high school at age 15 and immediately joined sister Irene working for his father in Tregurthas Hardware Store, a shop started by his grandfather Richard, a Cornish born lighthouse keeper who had retired from keeping at Cape Foulwind just south of Westport.  Lawrence toiled faithfully for his dad for 10 years at the hardware shop, unpacking stock to fill the shelves which went from floor to ceiling, serving customers, and delivering small goods with the shop bike.

Lawrence and his mates were keen cyclists and went on a number of intrepid bike rides from Westport to Greymouth and up to Nelson, camping in tents along the way.  Lawrence was also attracted to motorised transport; he got his drivers licence at a young age which enabled him to drive his father’s 1938 Chev a huge beast of a car. With this vehicle Lawrence became the chauffer for the Methodist Bible Class.  Ultimately Lawrence wanted his own set of motorised wheels. He started tentatively with a bicycle powered by a petrol driven motor.  Realising its limitations Lawrence decided it was time to move up market and indulge his life long passion for motor cars which initially he changed as often as his sox!

Step mother Doris taught piano at home so Lawrence was given  lessons, and although he didn’t persist with those for long he did retain enough to enable him to play a piano accordion.  He also dabbled with mouth organs.  Lawrence was blessed with a fine singing voice. He and Lois used to sing duets in local competitions and they almost sang on a Christchurch radio station. It fell through because Lawrence got crook.  Lawrence later sang tenor in church choirs in the Westport, Shirley and Rangiora Methodist churches. So his musical talents were not wasted.

In 1958 Lawrence moved to Christchurch to be closer to his soon- to- be fiancee Rachel. He worked for a trucking firm delivering goods and later worked for many years in the office of larger trucking firms.

Lawrence married Rachel on 26 August 1961 in the Methodist Church at Hawarden in North Canterbury, close to Rachel’s family’s farm.

Lawrence Tribute (3)They signed up for a new home in Shirley, Christchurch, and moved in at the end of 1961.   In August 1967 Greg became the first of three children who were to become much loved members of Lawrence and Rachel’s family.  Greg was joined at the end of 1969 by Janet, and finally at the beginning of 1973 Megan arrived to complete the family circle. By this time Lawrence and Rachel had moved out country and had been living in the 100 year old + Turvey Cottage in Rangiora for almost a year.  Lawrence continued to work faithfully for trucking firms in Christchurch which necessitated a 45 minute motor cycle commute each way…and that was on a good day!  Says much for his grit and determination that Monday to Friday, Lawrence did that long ride Rangiora to Sydenham and eventually Woolston, until he retired at age 62 in 1995.

Lawrence had many fine qualities. He was first and foremost a committed family man.  He was a wonderful son, husband.  Father, and brother, cousin, and friend. His warm smile, and quiet humour will be deeply missed.  He was always be relied upon to help family members in any way he could, at times to his own cost, but he did it because he loved them dearly and wanted the best for them.  Lawrence had a commendable work ethic.  He always wanted to be busy and doing something useful.  And Lawrence lived by the maxims that ‘if you start a job you finish it,’ and ‘any job worth doing is worth doing well.  There weren’t too many practical things he couldn’t do, or at least give it a go: he was a real ‘Mr Fix it,’ mending cars, building fences and trailers, doing electrical and plumbing work, painting, gardening. Lawrence could do it all and make a good fist of it.

Another of Lawrences s admirable traits was the meticulous way he cared for anything he owned; he valued what he had worked hard for and took real pride in their appearance.  All his cars were immaculate both inside and out, and under the bonnet; you could have eaten your dinner  off his car engines.

Sadly for many years Lawrence did not always enjoy the best of health.  He has struggled with respiratory problems from a very young age and had heart issues for many years necessitating bi pass surgery and a pace maker.  However what Lawrence may have lacked in physical robustness, he more than made up for in fighting spirit and the will to live courageously with whatever mother nature threw at him.  Even in the last weeks when so unwell he would say “Oh well, we just have to make the most of it’ and he would muster up the strength to try to engage in conversation and go for rides ending in a hot chocolate or ice cream which he loved so much.  Yes Lawrence may have had a dickie ticker but he sure had plenty of heart, a trait he displayed consistently throughout the 80 years of his very special life.

Sadly Lawrence died peacefully on February 12, 2014.  He was farewelled from Rangiora Methodist Church a week later by a large gathering of family and friends.  The following reflection by Helen Steiner Rice was read during the funeral service; it summed up the values and the life of Lawrence Richard Tregurtha:

             PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE,


            AND WE ALL NEED LOVE.





            AND HOLDS US CLOSE.




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