Noel Saunders leaves a lasting impression
A little piece of Noel Saunders will live on in the streets of Tokoroa and in the hearts of many.
Noel’s claim to fame started with a blue and white street sign proudly erected in his name.
But it is certainly not the only thing he will be remembered for.
The 89-year died last week, his funeral held at the South Waikato Sports and Events Centre and while it was a sad goodbye for friends and family, it was a celebration of a life well-lived.
Whether he was building shops, playing the trumpet or collecting the town’s rubbish, you could rest assured Noel’s work was always for the benefit of someone else.
So it was no surprise that in 1966 the father of six discovered his real passion inside a classroom.
Always the organised teacher, Noel even wrote his own eulogy.
The traditional educator was considered ‘‘very strict’’, but his daughter Noeline will never forget his kind nature.
He was the guy who put everyone first - his life motto being ‘‘look after your fellow man’’.
To the horror of fellow Benalla St resident his definition of ‘‘ look after’’ did not include allowing a sleep in.
‘‘He would play Christmas carols at the crack of dawn, the neighbours weren’t impressed,’’ Noeline said.
At a stretch you could throw inventor on the avid gardener’s list of achievements, although how well his experimental garden tools would have sold is another question.
‘‘All the tools were weird and wonderful but they worked very well,’’ Noeline said.
She said he was a ‘‘fascinated’’ person and always had a soft spot for chemistry.
He dreamed of becoming an industrial chemist but his parents could not afford to send him to university.
Some would say he came close in a disastrous science lesson that Noel himself even mentioned in his own eulogy.
He said the ‘‘ small explosion’’ was famously known as ‘‘ the day Mr Saunders blew out all the windows of the lab’’.
Not surprisingly, he taught himself most of what he knew, right down to his carpentry skills.
‘‘The band needed stands, so he made them .. and he made all his children treasure boxes,’’ Noeline said.
The telescope he built was something that Tokoroa High School science technician Dianne Collins will always remember..
‘‘ These kinds of things allow you to learn.. and I guess that contributed to my love of science,’’ she said.
Dianne described Noel as kind, generous and a real gentlemen.
He grew up teaching her and became a life-long friend, borrowing lab chemicals to clean his beloved instruments, she said.
‘‘He would always give me a wink and say ‘we won’t tell anyone’.’’
Perhaps Noel gave up morning carols by the time he made the move to Paranui Rd or perhaps his wife’s cooking was irresistible but Graham Dunstall will miss his neighbour of 40 years.
The start of the great friendship was over home baked goods, he said.
‘‘He introduced himself and his wife came over with a plate of scones or pikelets,’’ Dunstall said.
Whether through his scone recipe, science antics or 27 great grandchildren, one thing is for sure, the legacy of Noel Saunders is bound to live on.
Proud moment: Noel Saunders trumpet playing even led him to meeting Prince Charles.