The passing of a stalwart in the Stratford community for decades, Leo Carrington, early this month at Maryann
Residential Care Home at the age of 90, has left a huge gap in the community but a legacy that will remain for generations to come.
He is remembered as an astute, straight-shooting man, with a soft heart for people and a passion for Stratford. His commitment to the community included service through Social Welfare, Rotary, Lions, Budget Advisory Service, RSA, Federated Farmers and Taranaki Jaycees - to name but a few.
Recognising his services to the community and local government he was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 1977, an OBE in 1980, and the 1990 Commemorative Medal.
``It was never about him, always about the community,'' says Stratford District mayor Neil Volzke.
``What always astounded me was his attention to detail.''
Mr Carrington's daughter, Dianne Carrington, says she cannot remember a time when her dad was not involved in something in the community.
``In his heart there was no better place to live than Stratford and he delighted in being able to give back to the town he cared so deeply about,'' she says.
Mr Carrington served Stratford as a councillor for nine years and was mayor for five consecutive terms. As first citizen he became involved in establishing the local marae, but this role soon evolved beyond mere politics when the old school building used as a meetinghouse burnt down in the early 1990s and he became fundamental in obtaining funds to rebuild. David Rogers, who worked closely with him on negotiating Taranaki Treaty claims, says he was always a person you could count on to do what he said.
``He walked the talk.'' Mr Carrington was respected and honoured as an elder by local Maori and referred to as Koro Leo.
Born in Inglewood on December 11, 1920, the family moved to Kaponga in 1927 and seven years later to Stratford, where he, apart from his time in the armed services, lived until his death. He worked at Newton King from the age of 15, and in 1977 became regional manager responsible for the company's machinery operations in the North
Mr Carrington's last wish was that he'd be buried with the minimum of fuss and with only family in attendance. He even wrote his `death notice' for the newspaper.
``Talk about having your affairs in order. But, that was our dad,'' says Dianne.
Mr Carrington's wife Yvonne, died two years ago, but he will also be remembered by daughters, Lee and Barbara, son David, six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. His ashes will be retained in the RSA section at Kopuatama Cemetery outside Stratford.