Arthur Charles Dixon -- October 12, 1925 – April 9, 2018
"It must have been love at second sight."
Arthur Dixon always had a witty way with words and, when describing his own good old-fashioned love story, it was no different.
In fact, Arthur, right up until the end, was known to write funny, rhyming poems for his family and close friends.
The poems would arrive on cards at birthdays and special occasions and would always be signed "Art the Bard". He wrote about a dozen or more each year.
Arthur died peacefully in Mount Maunganui on Monday, aged 92.
His son Larry said he was always cheerful and loved to tell a joke, "which he did well".
"He was a man of real integrity. Never spoke ill of others."
Arthur was born in Wellington on October 12, 1925 to William George Dixon and Jesse Elizabeth Garrard.
He was the third of four children and grew up with his older sisters Winnie and Olive and his younger brother Colin.
Arthur was always a keen athlete. Sport – especially rugby, cricket, golf and horse racing – was a lifelong passion.
It almost cost him his soulmate. Larry said his dad wrote that particular story down and sent it to him shortly after his mum's death.
Arthur was 18 when he met Jocelyn (Jo) Ward.
It was at a Saturday night dance in Lower Hutt. She was 17.
Their courtship only lasted 18 months before ending abruptly.
Arthur had stayed at an after-match function in Wellington on a Saturday night with some of his rugby mates and was an hour and 15 minutes late to pick up Jo.
They were planning to do what they usually did – go to a Saturday night dance.
But when Arthur arrived at Jo's, he was told by her oldest brother that she had gone to the movies with her sisters "and that she wasn't going to be stood up by someone who thought more about rugby than he did about her".
The romance ended that night and Arthur and Jo went their separate ways.
They would run into each other occasionally but the friendship "could only be described as rather cool".
Then, three-and-a-half years after that fateful Saturday night breakup, around Christmas 1947, Arthur was without a date to a function.
He had bumped into Jo at – you guessed it – a dance the night before and asked her if she would accompany him.
Within six months they were engaged. Arthur was 22 and Jo was 21. They married on November 13, 1948.
"Mum always said her lucky number was 13," Larry said.
The couple lived in Wellington, Napier and then moved to Mount Maunganui in late 1966.
They had three children: Larry, Jan and Brent.
Larry said his dad was a fantastic father, even though he worked long hours and was often home late.
Arthur did his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner and worked most of his career for Mobil in Wellington, Napier, Mount Maunganui and Auckland.
He retired in 1985 aged 61.
Arthur adored his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was adored by them.
One of his granddaughters wrote on Facebook this week: "Totally heartbroken at losing such a wonderful Grandad this morning, but I'm so grateful I got him for 37 years and that I got to give him a cuddle a few weeks ago. He was such a witty, independent, funny, no fuss man."
In his later years, Arthur was determined to live life fully right to the end.
He survived surgery for a melanoma on his temple in his 60s and a triple heart bypass in his 70s. He had a pacemaker inserted in his 80s.
"But he never saw these things as something to moan about," Larry said.
"A doctor asked him in his 80s if he wanted them to revive him should he suffer a heart attack. His response: 'Hell yes, I'm not ready to die!'"
As for Arthur's good old-fashioned love story, he and Jo were married for 53 years.
Larry said people often commented that his parents were just as in love at the end as they were when they were 22.
When Jo turned 74 in 2000, Arthur wrote her last birthday poem.
She died of cancer the following year.
"They were soulmates, he said so several times," Larry said.
Art the Bard's last birthday poem to Jo – his soulmate of 53 years
I think I've lost my touch at this
I almost gave this poem a miss
But then I thought we can't have Mum
On her birthday looking glum.
I thought I'd buy her a new fur coat
Or perhaps shout her a cruise on a boat
But then I thought no don't do that
She'll eat too much and get too fat!
The back of your purse this [$50] note can hide
Until you buy what you decide
I thought it best this way you see
Otherwise, it could have ended in the TAB.