Pa­tri­arch re­mem­bered for strong out­look

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News | Police - — The au­thor has a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with Mike and his fam­ily.

Mike Welling­ton would al­ways get a twin­kle in his eyes when he was about to tell you some­thing.

Whether he was re­lay­ing his ad­ven­tures driv­ing across Canada, guid­ing his grand­sons with their wood­work pro­jects or of­fer­ing tips to per­fect a recipe, Mike loved im­part­ing his knowl­edge.

If, on the rare oc­ca­sion, you knew more on a topic than he, his mouth would curve at the cor­ner and he’d chuckle, ac­knowl­edg­ing you had bested him — this time.

That twin­kle in his eye and fire in his belly car­ried Mike through the 77 years of his life.

The fa­ther of three and grand­fa­ther to many died on De­cem­ber 30 at Waikato Hospi­tal, sur­rounded by fam­ily, af­ter suc­cumb­ing to in­juries sus­tained in a car crash in Aca­cia Bay, Taupo¯ , on De­cem­ber 27.

His death, which has been re­ferred to the coro­ner, was one of nine counted in the 2018/19 hol­i­day road toll.

Mike’s fam­ily re­mem­ber the pa­tri­arch as hav­ing a strong per­son­al­ity and a no-non­sense, get-on-with-life prac­ti­cal­ity.

Born in Manley, Aus­tralia, on Septem­ber 1, 1941, Michael (Mike) John Welling­ton came to New Zealand as a 6-week-old, mak­ing him the youngest per­son to travel on a sea plane at the time.

The elder of two chil­dren, Mike grew up in Auck­land, go­ing to Grafton Rd Pri­mary School and be­com­ing a foun­da­tion day boy at St Kentigern Col­lege.

In 1963 he met his fu­ture wife, Sue Pacey, at a nurs­ing flat party.

“We had just started chat­ting and I guess he didn’t put me off,” Sue laughed. “He had a bit of a James Dean look. He was a cool, mo­tor­bike-type.”

Sue fin­ished her nurs­ing train­ing and she and Mike mar­ried on March 13, 1965.

In be­tween hav­ing their three chil­dren — Paul, Kim and Kris­ten — the Welling­tons went farm­ing, with Mike start­ing out as a shep­herd and work­ing his way up to man­ager at a farm in Ho­ra­hora.

“He was a hard worker, he never shied away from phys­i­cal work. Af­ter the Ho­ra­hora farm sold we spent 18 months at a ghastly peat farm in Gor­don­ton, then we bought a green­house prop­erty in Bom­bay.”

But it was in 1991 that Mike dis­cov­ered his true call­ing was truck driv­ing and he spent the next 23 years be­hind the wheel, re­tir­ing at 73. “He loved ma­chin­ery and driv­ing. Those truck-driv­ing days were his hap­pi­est. He was very good at spread­ing metal and back­ing the trucks.

“His boss was al­ways re­ally im­pressed with Mike and would have him show the oth­ers how it was done but Mike wasn’t the show­boaty type.”

Sue and Mike moved to Taupo¯ three years ago to be closer to fam­ily. “He loved hav­ing his fam­ily around him. He wasn’t very so­cia­ble and wasn’t the best at show­ing af­fec­tion but he was al­ways proud of his fam­ily and showed them in his own way.”

Grand­son Carl Ben­nett re­mem­bers Mike as a force to be reck­oned with in the kitchen.

“He would al­ways add a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra to a recipe to make it his own. He was pas­sion­ate about food and took great pride in feed­ing his fam­ily.

“The hard part is re­al­is­ing when I visit Nan now, I won’t see Pop in the kitchen cook­ing din­ner and lis­ten­ing to Dr John or Eva Cas­sidy.”

Photo / Sup­plied

Mike Welling­ton and Sue, his wife of 53 years.

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