True pillar of his community

By kelli.hooks@age.co.nz, Kelli Hooks


A former Wairarapa businessman and stalwart of St John, Neville James Archer, died just before Christmas at the Masonic Village Rest Home in Levin.

Carterton-born Mr Archer contributed greatly to the Wairarapa community, particularly through his work with St John and his Featherston business activities.

He joined the Order of St John as a volunteer Brigadesman in 1946, and his skill as manager led to funds for the purchase of the first ambulance and a contract with Masterton Hospital to provide ambulance services out of Featherston.

In 1966 he was admitted to the Order of a Serving Brother, in 1974 as an Officer of the Order, and in 1980 as a Commander to the Order of St John.

He remains the only born and raised Wairarapa member to be so honoured.

Mr Archer spent four years in the New Zealand defence force, two years in the New Zealand Army and two years with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

At the end of World War 11 in 1945 he was demobilised with the rank of Leading Aircraftsman and returned to Carterton.

He later owned a business in Featherston, Archer's Furnishings, for many years and his late wife Elsie taught at Featherston Primary School.

Mr Archer belonged to the Masonic Lodge, in Featherston, and the Vestry of the Anglican Church, in Featherston.

For eight years he was the Featherston representative to the Anglican Church Synod.

Mr Archer was involved in various other community activities, including a role as a welfare advisor for the South Wairarapa RSA and taught woodwork at Kuranui College.

His contributions to the Wairarapa were recognised with the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977.

In 1980 Mr and Mrs Archer moved to the Masonic Village in Levin, where they spent the last 30 years.

In Levin he was elected to the House Committee of the Levin Masonic Trust, and was later appointed to the Wellington Masonic Board of Trustees, he also formed the Levin Fellowship Group of the Order of St John.

Mr Archer regularly returned to Wairarapa on St John's and Masonic business up until a few months before his death.

In 2011 he was presented with a medal acknowledging his contribution to the Levin community.

Mr Archer is survived by his two children, Diane and Gavin.

A service was held for him at St Mary's Anglican Church, in Levin, on December 28.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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