Noel Saun­ders leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion

South Waikato News - - NEDWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

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.

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