‘Passionate outdoorsman’ dies after car crash
If there were two things Les Mildon didn’t like, it was attention, and anything that distracted him from whitebaiting or hunting.
Mildon died on Saturday, two days before his 82nd birthday. The Napier man was widely known, having spent nearly five decades as a butcher in the city.
His son Russell said he was a ‘‘firm but fair’’ man who enjoyed socialising, but liked nothing more than deer-hunting and whitebaiting.
Because the opening of the whitebaiting season was around the time of his birthday, Mildon was often out of town. It was with some reluctance that he agreed to be in town for his 80th, Russell said.
Mildon was on his way to Wairoa on Saturday morning to meet another son for a few days whitebaiting when his car left SH2 between Putorino and Tutira and came to rest on railway lines.
He managed to extricate himself from his car, climb up a bank and wave down a passing motorist. He was taken by ambulance to Hawke’s Bay Hospital but his condition deteriorated and he died on Saturday night.
Les was ‘‘an absolutely passionate outdoorsman’’ with a strong penchant for hunting and whitebaiting.
‘‘He was up in the Ruahines hunting four months ago, broke his leg and was stuck in the bush waiting to be found, then had to be helicoptered out. He recovered well and the first thing he wanted to do was start preparing for the whitebaiting season,’’ Russell said.
Les would often go away for days or weeks to catch whitebait on the Wairoa or Waikare Rivers.
‘‘He’d pack his wagon up and just go if the whitebait were running. Then he’d come back and distribute his catch among friends, family and others,’’ Russell said.
His father was firm but compassionate, Russell said. ‘‘He didn’t often say a great deal. What he said, you listened to’’.
His work revolved around his commitment to be in the hills, or whitebaiting, but he continued working as a butcher until a few years ago. Most recently he worked at Downey’s City Butchery on McGrath Street.
Les was raised in Wairoa and moved to Napier where he met future wife Jenny. They married in 1958. They have four children, eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Serious Crash Unit was investigating the cause of the crash.
Major Keelan will be off the streets.