Obituary: Fred Chapman starred as all rounder

By Doug Laing

Frederick William Chapman

April 2, 1924 - September 13, 2012

When Fred Chapman was farewelled at the Taradale Services Cemetery on September 17, it was difficult to work out which part of his life was represented most by those who came to say farewell.

Was it Fred the sportsman, who excelled in a variety of sports, with a standout achievement in kicking a penalty at rugby from "63 yards" or 58 metres - regarded at the time in the 1950s as the longest place kick in New Zealand and not bad considering the line-up around the country included All Blacks greats Ron Scott and Don Clarke.

Was it Fred the sports administrator, coaching a team to win club rugby's Madison Trophy, organising golf centennials or heading-up the committee that bought a block of land on the outskirts of Napier and turned it into the Awatoto public golf course?

Or was it Fred at work, the barber or the vehicle sales manager?

Whatever, it was clear Fred Chapman had done a lot in his 88 years.

Born in Waipukurau, one of five sons of Arthur and Edith Chapman, he went to school in the immediate pre-war years at Waipukurau Primary and Waipukurau District High School, which closed in 1958.

While at primary school, he played in two Ross Shield rugby tournaments, featuring in one of the few ever won by Central Hawke's Bay and also captaining the team.

At high school, he was in the First XV rugby team, scored a century in the First XI cricket team and won the tennis championship.

He had begun a hairdressing apprenticeship by the onset of World War II and, at the age of 18, went into camp at Waiouru, returning to Hawke's Bay in service to man the turrets on Bluff Hill and pill-boxes along the Marine Parade.

He was based in camp at Mclean Park where, a few years later, he would be kicking some of the 188 points he scored in the Hawke's Bay jersey, in a 1944-52 representative rugby career which, at the time of his death, would have him still listed 16th among the union's scorers in first-class matches.

Transferred to Linton, he was home on leave in Waipukurau when the war ended and he moved to Napier soon afterwards, working in Emersen St with hairdresser Jim Johnson and joining the Napier High School Old Boys' Rugby Club.

In his nine seasons at the top provincial level, and better known as a fullback, he played in the 1949 and 1950 All Black trials.

He also played cricket for Hawke's Bay in 1946, swam for the provincial team and, after finishing playing rugby, coached NHSOB to win the Bay's senior rugby championship.

In 1953, he married Margaret Collingwood King, who was from Auckland, and they raised four children, but when it came to sport he was also just entering a new phase which was to include being president of the Maraenui Golf Club and heading the committee, which organised its 50th anniversary, and that which established the public course next door.

Moving to Taradale in 1976, Fred was club captain at the Napier Golf Club, chairing its centennial committee, and another committee organising the national amateur championships at the club's Waiohiki links.

He left the hairdressing trade in 1965 to become a salesman for Magnus Motors in Napier and later sales manager for Townshend Motors, from where he retired in 1986.

He also served as a vice-president and committee member of the Napier Cosmopolitan Club and was active in recent years in Taradale RSA events.

He is survived by Margaret, daughters Michelle, Sandra and Jan and son Brett.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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