John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga community gem dies

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Lois Whiting had been involved with the Tauranga A&P Show committee for 21 years. Photo/Supplied
Lois Whiting had been involved with the Tauranga A&P Show committee for 21 years. Photo/Supplied

Lois Beverley Whiting 1933 - 2016

A tireless community worker who for years held the Tauranga A&P Show together has died aged 83.

Lois Whiting was born in Pongakawa and moved to Tauranga at the age of five when the town's population was barely 4000 people.

But she never allowed Tauranga's huge growth to overwhelm her sense of duty to the community, and was rewarded with a Queen's Service Medal in 1996.

Mrs Whiting's love of flowers was sparked by a childhood garden competition at Mount Maunganui during World War II. It culminated in a career as a florist in which she opened three shops in Greerton, Devonport Rd and Picadilly Arcade.

She said she always loved the way that flowers brought happiness to people. The last four years of her life included using flowers to fundraise for Waipuna Hospice.

Mrs Whiting recycled artificial flowers used in bereavement floral arrangements and turned them into bouquets sold in hospice shops.

Her huge hands-on knowledge of flowers was also put to good use for the Red Cross' Red Rose Day. She de-thorned roses, made bouquets and helped distribute them to sellers.

This work combined with her unstinting devotion to the community saw her awarded the title of Community Gem in 2010.

During her years running florist businesses, she joined the Tauranga Soroptimist Club, a service club for women similar to Rotary. She was the charter president of the Tauranga branch of Soroptimist International in 1973.

Mrs Whiting also became involved with Pakeke Lions Club when her late husband Malcolm joined in 2000. When he died in 2007, she continued her involvement with the club and became the first female president in 28 years. She was also a member of Probus.

However, it was her years of voluntary work for Tauranga's A&P Show including 20 years as secretary, that cemented her nominations for a QSM and Community Gem.

Lois Whiting. Photo/File
Lois Whiting. Photo/File

Her daughter-in-law Keitha said Lois held the show together for many years, only winding down her commitment after Mr Whiting died - he was the long time treasurer and editor of the show schedule.

Mrs Whiting's enthusiasm never flagged and she was involved with Probus, Soroptimists and Lions right up until her death from cancer in Althorpe Hospital on Tuesday.

''She has done so much good for Tauranga, she was very driven. Everyone has had a story about her,'' Keitha Whiting told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Her involvement in the community included being on Plunket and school committees when her family was young. She also started Tauranga's 500 card club.

The ex-pupil of Tauranga Primary School and the former Tauranga District High School is survived by two children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Her funeral service takes place at Tauranga Park, Pyes Pa, on Monday at 11am.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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