Killed after prayers
A 61-YEAR-OLD man who died after being attacked at a Royal Oak bus stop had been praying for the community just hours before the assault.
Graham Wallace Arcus was walking home from a prayer meeting when he was punched to the ground outside the Watchman’s Lane bus stop in an unprovoked attack last Saturday night.
He died three days later from his injuries.
His son Tim, 27, says the prayer meeting was focused on praying for people in the close community.
“In effect, he was praying for the people who beat him up.”
The attacker fled and Mr Arcus was helped by witnesses and neighbours and taken to hospital, where he later died.
His children Tim, Paul, 29 and Anna, 33, have gathered to support each other and their mother Edith, who is distraught.
Sister Judith, 31, is on her way home from Yemen, where she works as a missionary.
They are still puzzling over why their father decided to walk home from the meeting when he would normally get a ride.
“Somehow he just made up in his mind he was going to walk home. It’s still a bit of a mystery. The people at church are distraught because no one gave him a ride,” says Tim.
Anna says her father would get a lift with a number of different people and no one realised he had left to walk home.
They say Mr Arcus would have been stunned and confused to be violently attacked.
“Because violence was very much not in his nature he didn’t understand it. So he would have been shocked and not too sure what to do or what was going on,” says Paul.
Tim says various medical conditions including strokes, heart trouble, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis had made their father unsteady on his feet.
“A 10-year-old could have done the same damage. It would not have taken much at all to get him on the ground. It was like picking on a child.”
He was conscious but confused when first taken to hospital, but his condition deteriorated and his health problems made surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain impossible.
Mr Arcus, who has lived in Onehunga since 1986, was well-known in the community and was a tireless volunteer.
He helped local groups, clubs and elderly women, who are now determined to pay tribute to him.
“We’re having all sorts of phone calls from community groups who want to do something,” says Anna.
Tim remembers his father as loving and a gentleman.
“He was a hero to locals and a role model to a few of my friends growing up.”
Mr Arcus was a member of the Royal Oak Baptist Church on Symonds St and worked as a missionary in Papua New Guinea, where he also became principal of the teachers’ college.
Upon returning to New Zealand, Mr Arcus was a Christian mission director and a passionate gardener who retrained as a landscape gardener at Unitec.
The family says those who knew him in the community are “absolutely shocked” by his death.
“We would like it if something came out of this where more people helped the community and we could get some of the ones who are destroying the community out of it and into rehabilitation,” says Anna. •A 24-year-old Mangere man yesterday appeared in the Auckland District Court charged with Mr Arcus’ manslaughter.
Police said news of the arrest was welcomed by the family.
“The assistance from witnesses over the past few days has enabled us to progress at considerable speed and we and the Arcus family are very grateful for that,” says detective sergeant Greg Cramer.