Hundreds farewell Masterton chemist

By Don Farmer don.farmer@age.co.nz -
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Knight Masons, in full regalia, carry Mr Haglund's casket. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Knight Masons, in full regalia, carry Mr Haglund's casket. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

Popular chemist Charles Heaton Haglund, who died last Thursday, will be remembered as a man who pitched in helping his community, and doing so with a ready smile.

He was farewelled by about 500 people at a funeral service at St Matthew's Church in Masterton yesterday.

His prominence as a long-time Freemason was honoured with Knight Masons, in full regalia, acting as pallbearers to carry his coffin into the church.

Inside, his grandchildren sat around his coffin as Masonic leaders, pharmacy colleagues and family described a competitive, keen businessman, sportsman and family man.

His friendly approach to life may well have been an easily learned behaviour as he was born and raised as a "West Coaster", living his early years in Greymouth and attending the primary school there and Greymouth High School before gaining a Bachelor of Science degree at Canterbury University.

Mr Haglund spent two years at the New Zealand School of Pharmacy in Petone but returned south to take on his first full-time job as a chemist in Christchurch.

It was during his time there that he met his future wife Beverley Lett, the daughter of a farming family who farmed at Taeuru, east of Masterton, when she was on holiday.

In 1967 the couple moved to Greytown where Mr Haglund started work for Vic Cooke in the Greytown Pharmacy before shifting to Masterton and going into partnership with Jack Richards, the beginning of a long association with pharmacy work in the town.

Away from work Mr Haglund busied himself with a raft of community involvement.

These included being a justice of the peace -- he was a past-president of the Wairarapa Justice of the Peace Association -- serving on the Glenwood Hospital Board and on the committee of Masterton Cosmopolitan Club.

Mr Haglund also served as a trustee of the Trinity Foundation, the Wairarapa Basketball Association and the Masterton Lands Trust, being elected in 1998 and remaining on the board until his death.

In education, he was a past chairman of both the Hadlow and West School boards and was on the board of trustees at Solway College.

In sport he was a brown belt in judo and coached Masterton Rugby Club's junior team, also serving on the JAB committee.

Despite his busy life in the community Mr Haglund found time to pursue other interests and hobbies.

He loved fishing, both surfcasting and trout fishing, skiing and beekeeping and was a lover of cats and dogs.

He was a keen traveller who had a special liking for the outback town of Lightning Ridge, a small opal mining centre in New South Wales.

At the service, Don Staples said Freemasonry was an important part of Mr Haglund's life.

"He was very much a person who got on with the job and avoided accolades for his many achievements."

Pharmacy colleague Phil Hines could recall -- possibly before regulations were stronger -- Mr Haglund's popular product for the elderly, "Charlie's Firewater", a sleeping draught with a strong alcohol content.

He was noted for his golden bell, ringing it to bring staff back from their breaks.

"The pharmacy was the perfect fit for him -- it allowed him to reach out to many people."

His son Geoffrey said Mr Haglund worked long hours at the pharmacy but was a devoted father and grandfather.

"There was so much more he wanted to do."

Interviewed in 1996 Mr Haglund said his philosophy on life was "you really have just got to go for it in life".

He said then "you make the best of your good points for your fellow man" and said far too many people were too serious.

"If you can't get a laugh out of life, things must be pretty grim."

Only last year Mr Haglund made headlines when it was revealed he was the secret benefactor who put up the money allowing Aratoi Museum to bid for war medals at a Sydney auction house.

They had been the medals of Gallipoli soldier and Tinui man Jack Dunn which Mr Haglund believed should be purchased and returned to Wairarapa.

They cost Mr Haglund $5610 and were brought home to go on display at last year's Anzac Day commemorations at Tinui.

His wife pre-deceased him, dying in September 2014, but Mr Haglund is survived by his sons Jonathan, Geoffrey and Nathan and his daughter Sarah-Leigh and their families.

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