John Howard, who died last Sunday, was a core force in helping set the standard for the New Zealand rowing team's current success.
The 57-year-old died after battling for the best part of a year with lung cancer. He was a non-smoker.
Howard is survived by his wife, Sue, daughters Renee and Sacha and four grandchildren. His funeral is being held today in Tauranga.
Manager of the national team from 2005-2007, Howard is best remembered for his gregarious, enthusiastic nature and bristling salt-and-pepper handlebar moustache.
And some cracking commentaries from a variety of regattas at Lake Karapiro.
"John was always upbeat, never without a smile and whatever he got involved in he put his heart and soul into," Tauranga Rowing Club president John Hatwell said today.
"For a guy who started out with his two daughters when they rowed for Tauranga Girls' College, John went on to put a lot in rowing, whether it was president of our Tauranga club or the Bay of Plenty region, some legendary commentaries at Karapiro or managing national teams."
When Howard was around, no task was too demanding or too menial for his attention. In short, he got things done.
The first year of Howard's watch with the national team in 2005 coincided with the four gold medals in 45 minutes in Gifu. It was there that Howard's unwavering loyalty to his charges and cheerful willingness to give of himself became clear. They were qualities that helped athletes exceed expectations.
That continued through the campaigns to the Eton and Munich world championships in the following two years.
Outside rowing, Howard spent 28 years with Fletcher Challenge before running the Loft 109 Backpackers hostel during the past couple of years on Devonport Rd.
He was also a top golfer who once got his handicap down to 5 as club captain at Omanu.