Christchurch earthquake: Keen travellers died together

By Jarrod Booker

Beverley and Earl Stick were known as music lovers. Photo / Supplied
Beverley and Earl Stick were known as music lovers. Photo / Supplied

As had become routine, Earl and Beverley Stick were travelling by bus into central Christchurch for Mr Stick's cancer treatment.

The couple, married for 51 years, were looking forward to his radiation treatment ending that week. But the pair from the hill suburb of Scarborough happened to be on one of the buses hit by collapsing buildings when the earthquake struck.

"They lived, they laughed and they loved together. And they have gone together - and that is probably our only consolation," their daughter, Raemon Greenwood, told the Herald.

Described as "incredibly independent" and still active, the couple, aged 78 and 72, had travelled together around the world, including bus trips through some risky areas. For them to die in a routine bus trip in Christchurch is hard for their family to fathom.

"At Christmas, my mum was kayaking with my daughter at the [Marlborough] Sounds," Mrs Greenwood said.

"I think they would go to the ends of the Earth for their grandkids."

Mrs Greenwood - whose home just a few houses away from her parents' is a write-off - last saw them the day before the disaster for coffee and to look over photos.

When the quake hit, she got out with cuts and bruises as books and other possessions began raining down.

"I just remember all the Oamaru stone peeling off the fireplace as I'm trying to escape out the jolly door."

Mrs Greenwood said that after a couple of days of checking hospitals and welfare centres for her parents, it was clear that something was wrong, "because they were always in touch. I would usually speak to my mother every day."

It was more than two weeks before Mrs Greenwood's family got confirmation that the bodies of her parents had been recovered from a crushed bus at the corner of Colombo and St Asaph Sts and were being kept together at Burnham Military Camp. In the end, the news came as a relief.

"The people who have worked to find my parents are absolutely amazing, and we are so grateful.

"There's people who are still waiting [for news of loved ones] and people who are going to get a lot less than us."

Invercargill-born Mr Stick, a retired builder and active member of Rotary, was always lending his skills to his community, or helping with projects such as tree planting.

Christchurch-born Mrs Stick was tech-savvy and known for making "the best shortbread".

They were part of the Friends of Canterbury Opera and loved music.

The couple's 50th wedding anniversary was a "huge party", Mrs Greenwood said.

"They were off to Malaysia again this year. I'm going to miss them horrifically."

- NZ Herald

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