Keith Morton Clark (January 9, 1923 – March 13, 2018)

For Keith Clark, nothing was ever broken – it could always be fixed.

Whether he was teaching apprentice mechanics at Tauranga Boys' College night school, helping build a ski club hut on Mt Ruapehu, or brewing his own beer, he always had a solution for everything that went wrong.

Keith, who also served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Bougainville and Fiji, died peacefully on Tuesday at Tauranga's Cedar Manor. He was 95.


"Keith was well known as a special gentleman, and a kind, loving person to all his family and friends," his daughter Jude Walmsley told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend this week, speaking on behalf of the family.

"He enjoyed family time and lived life to the full."

Keith was born in Waihi on January 9, 1923, and grew up with his mum, dad and five siblings on a dairy farm on Matahui Rd in Katikati.

He attended the same primary school as his future wife, Betty.

They met again in later years – at a Tauranga dance in 1962.

The couple brought together two families, Keith with two children, Betty with three. Together they had a daughter.

Keith and Betty were married for 56 years and lived throughout the Bay of Plenty – in Tauranga, Katikati and Whakatane.

Jude said her dad liked fishing, winemaking and home-brewing beer.

He also loved dancing and music, walking, snow skiing and was an amazing vegetable gardener.

"A pioneer of upcycling," she said, "building anything we needed from nothing."

In 1942, Keith joined the Territorials and two years later the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He served in Bougainville.

After peace was declared, Keith returned to New Zealand on leave before going to Fiji on a repatriation scheme for two years.

He became a mechanic when he came home and worked for Roberts Concrete doing fleet and plant maintenance, before joining Wilson Cement in the same line of work.

He helped make the first pre-stressed beams for bridge construction in Bay of Plenty in the 1960s.

Keith retired at 60, and he and Betty were long-standing members of the local motorhome association. They travelled all around the country together.

"One special moment in his life was when he was invited to the unveiling of his great-grandfather's plaque in Auckland, who was the first elected mayor of Auckland," Jude said.

That was Archibald Clark, the first mayor of the Auckland Borough Council in 1851.

Keith is survived by his wife Betty, his children Sharon, Basil, Jude, Kathryn, Gavin and Denise, his 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Jude said: "Keith's wife Betty, family and extended family are very sad at the loss of a loving husband, dad and granddad but will celebrate his 95 years of wonderful life together."

That celebration will begin tomorrow at 2pm at Olive Tree Cottage, 247 Joyce Rd, Pyes Pa, Tauranga.