Sid Corbett died suddenly but peacefully on April 12 at the home of his companion of the past 15 years, Josie Gray.

Sid was 97, and was one of Rotorua's older residents - born here on November 25, 1918.

He was lucky to be here. His mother Lizzie contracted the "black flu" when she was pregnant, and Sid was born prematurely weighing just over 1kg. His mother died four days later, leaving his father Bill with Sid and his 2-year-old sister Eleanor (Billie).

However Lizzie's sister, Kate, stepped in to effectively become Sid and Billie's mum. Kate Shaw is remembered as "the mother of Rotorua" and a plaque commemorates her under a pohutukawa on the foreshore of Lake Rotorua.

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Sid married Hawera girl Sylvie Thrush in 1951, and they had three children, Gary, Carol and Shona. Together they had a 50-year fun-filled marriage of family, parties, golf, and bowls before Sylvie died in 2001. Sid found new companionship with Josie Gray, who at 94 survives him.

Sid was a jack of all trades. He was a milk delivery boy, butcher, taxi driver, pig buyer, real estate salesman, insurance salesman, electrical appliance salesman, superette proprietor, motel proprietor and head storeman.

Sid was willing to try his hand at anything.

He was one of the last few surviving members of the King's Empire Veterans (KEV) who saw active service in World War II. In 1942 he shipped to Egypt with the 7th Anti-tank Regiment where he was engaged in the battle with Rommel in the North African desert. He nearly lost his life at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944.

Sid was proud of his war contribution. But he was also renowned for his contribution to Rotorua clubs, including being a founding member of the Springfield Golf Club. He was the last surviving founding member of the Arawa Bowling Club where he had held many offices (including that of president) and took many trophies. He was "deadly" on the snooker table at the RSA or Citizens' Club.

But it is as a companion, dad, grandfather, great-grandfather and unfazed, smiling friend he will be remembered. As well as a gentleman to all.

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- Supplied by son-in-law Rob Davis