Just hours before he died in a car crash, failed finance company boss Allan Hubbard dropped in to farewell staff at a closing South Canterbury Finance office.
Hubbard and wife Jean consoled staff at the Timaru office on their final day, South Canterbury Finance regional manager Nigel Davenport said.
Davenport said that they stopped in at 10.30am and stayed for around 15 minutes, only hours before the financier died in a horrific head-on car crash on Friday.
"He had heard through the grapevine that the office was closing," Davenport said.
"There was genuine concern about the staff. He was asking if they had something else to go to. It was the first time we had seen him in some months. He was the same Allan we used to know.
"It's an incomprehensible, sad irony that because of that he has passed away. It's hard to fathom."
Davenport paid tribute to his former boss, saying he had left a huge legacy around the South Island and further afield.
The Mid Canterbury and Tasman offices also shut their doors for the final time on Friday, on the orders of the receivers.
More tributes poured in yesterday for Hubbard, 83, who died when the car his wife Jean, 82, was driving collided with a ute on State Highway 1 in Richmond, about 5km north of Oamaru around 1pm.
Otago police inspector Mike Cook said last night: "We are completing a full and thorough investigation into all aspects of the crash and this is expected to take some weeks."
News of Hubbard's death yesterday prompted a wave of sympathetic messages on social networking sites, including the Help Allan Hubbard Facebook page, which highlighted his integrity and philanthropy.
Timaru personalities and politicians also lined up to pay tribute to the failed financier, who was facing 50 counts of fraud and related offences after the collapse of his company.
- Additional reporting by Kurt Bayer of APNZ