Farmer al­ways will­ing to get the job done

Central Otago Mirror - - OBITUARY - By BAR­BARA WITHING­TON

He still had a lot of things he wanted to do, but Te­viot Val­ley farmer Dick Hill left a long list of achieve­ments be­hind at his death in De­cem­ber. Not ‘‘just a farmer’’, Dick will be re­mem­bered for the re­spon­si­bil­ity thrust upon him when Max Brad­ford de­cided to change the struc­ture of power com­pa­nies. As elected mem­ber for Te­viot on the Cen­tral Elec­tric Power Board, he be­came the first chair­man of the Cen­tral Lakes Trust with the re­spon­si­bil­ity for mil­lions of dol­lars in­vested for the bet­ter­ment of those for­tu­nate to live within the bound­aries. Born in 1945, he shifted from Wal­lace­town, South­land, in 1954, and his par­ents Fred and Mar­jorie set­tled on Mill Farm, Ar­row­town, now bet­ter known as Mill­brook Re­sort. Younger brother Jeff re­calls Dick knew the way home from school on his first day, ‘‘his older sis­ter didn’t; his younger brother, not a clue’’. Spend­ing just two years at South­land Tech­ni­cal Col­lege be­fore re­turn­ing to the farm at Ar­row­town, Dick joined Young Farm­ers and honed his de­bat­ing skills – a tal­ent which stood him in good stead in later years. Th­ese years also in­cluded involvement in lo­cal sports clubs and the Ar­row­town Mu­seum, the be­gin­ning of a life­time of com­mu­nity involvement. Af­ter build­ing a part­ner­ship with his fa­ther in the farm, he bought the farm out­right be­fore de­cid­ing he wanted some­thing big­ger. Jeff tells the story of years ear­lier, while re­turn­ing from a rugby match in Dunedin, the car Dick and friends were trav­el­ling in broke down at Waitahuna and they caught the train to Roxburgh, pass­ing The Gums farm, and Dick com­mented on want­ing to own one just like that one day, only to take own­er­ship of The Gums in 1978. Times were tough dur­ing the first years on the farm – los­ing his wife Mary in 1981 and cop­ing with two small chil­dren, with­drawn farm sub­si­dies and some won­der­ful sup­port from friends to get through. Friends from the Millers Flat Col­lie Club, Te­viot Ir­ri­ga­tion Com­mit­tee, Benger Sale Yards Com­mit­tee and Mt Benger A & P Show Com­mit­tee all stood to­gether to help one an­other dur­ing some really hard years. Rugby also ben­e­fited from Dick’s involvement as West Otago subunion del­e­gate to the Otago Rugby Union for many years, in­clud­ing four as pres­i­dent, and also as a ref­eree. In each of the groups Dick was in­volved with, he was more than ‘‘just a mem­ber’’. In the Col­lie Club, he would al­ways run his dogs early in the day so he could then be the sheep lib­er­a­tor for the rest of the day. In the Te­viot Val­ley 2007 group to cel­e­brate 150 years of farm­ing in the area, Dick was first to put his hand up as trea­surer for what was to be a project that in­volved ma­jor fundrais­ing and ex­penses. Through his years on the Rox burgh Area School Board of Trustees, he be­came in­volved in the Gate­way Project, giv­ing stu­dents a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence farm work in a real sit­u­a­tion. This month’s A & P show will find some­one dif­fer­ent in the wool pavil­ion – Dick was in charge of the class­ing for many years. His wife Ann said of this task and so many oth­ers: ‘‘ He saw a job needed do­ing, so he just got on and did it.’’ The Roxburgh and District Lions Club will miss his will­ing­ness on work­ing bees, the Med­i­cal Ser­vices Trust Board will miss his care­ful thoughts on any de­ci­sion to be made, the Roxburgh Mu­seum has lost a ded­i­cated his­to­rian, and Te­viot Val­ley has lost a will­ing vol­un­teer.

Al­ways will­ing: Farmer Dick Hill

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