A well-known Tauranga veteran has died. Sandra Conchie has spoken to his two grieving daughters who share reflections about their beloved father's life and his passions.
One of Tauranga's oldest identities has left his indelible mark on the city.
Trevor Russell Hinton Blaker, aged 102, who died on October 4, is believed to be the only resident of his age to have been born in the city and also died here.
The youngest of five children, Trevor was born in Greerton (then known as Gate Pa) on March 23, 1917, to English parents who emigrated to Tauranga via Canada in 1910.
His father Jack was a poultry farmer and supplied the town with eggs, and at the time there were no shops in Greerton and Cameron Rd was just a clay track.
When the poultry business failed during the 1920s, Trevor's parents split up, leaving his mother Mollie to raise the family in a one-room cabin overlooking Otoumoetai Golf Club.
At the time Otumoetai was still rural farmland with a population, the golf course was a swamp and Ngatai Rd did not exist.
Like many families living through the depression, Trevor and his siblings were no strangers to hardships, his daughters said.
Educated at Otumeotai Primary, Blaker left school at 13 and worked as a farmhand in the Tauranga district for a time before enlisting in the army.
Private Trevor Blaker fought with the 20th New Zealand Infantry Battalion in 1942.
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He served in Greece, Crete and North Africa before being wounded and taken a prisoner of war at El Alamein.
Private Blaker also took part in the famous nighttime bayonet charge in the epic escape from encircling Germans at Minqar Qaim near Egypt's border with Libya.
He is believed to be the last survivor of the breakout.
Blaker was on first name terms with Sir Charles Hazlitt Upham VC, whom he immensely admired - the two men served together in Egypt.
Surviving POW camps in Italy and later Poland for three years, he returned home to Tauranga and married Icella Turner, who he had known before the war.
The couple lived in a hut in a transit camp set up for returned servicemen on Tauranga Domain, before Blaker built their first home in Otumoetai.
The couple had three children - Sharon Kelly, nee Blaker, 71, from Nelson, Kaye Blaker, 64, from Opotiki and son Russell who died in 2002 aged 52.
Trevor and his wife Icella, who died in August 2012 aged 88, made headline news in 2009 when they remarried after being divorced for more than three decades.
Despite their advanced ages, the couple lived independently at their Oakland Lodge retirement complex in 14th Avenue, which is where Trevor still lived until his death.
Trevor was a "self-made man" who worked as painter/paperhanger and builder in the Tauranga area before buying a small citrus orchard in Hinewa Rd, Otumoetai, Sharon said.
"Before the term developer was commonplace, Trevor subdivided the orchard for residential housing in the late 1950s and created a road through it which he named Lemon Grove Avenue," she said.
Kaye said their father was an "intelligent, articulate and a family-focused" loving father, and a special poppa to his 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
He was keen gardener, who "devoured books" particularly anything to do with history, and was a regular contributor to the Bay of Plenty Times Memories-Past Times section.
Kaye said Trevor attended every Anzac Day commemorative services in Tauranga to honour his fellow veterans and those who had served and lost their lives overseas.
He loved music of "all kinds" especially listening to village radio and had regularly played indoor bowls and 500 at the Tauranga Senior Citizens Club since 1945, Kaye said.
"Trevor was a gentle man and a gentleman, who showed huge respect for other people. He loved talking to young children and would get down on one knee to talk to them."
"He was always interested in other people and finding out their views on a rapt of topics and it was nothing for us to spend two hours talking on the phone," Sharon said.
So what was Blaker's secret to living to the aged of 102?
"Trevor firmly believed to keep healthy, especially in later years, you needed to eat simply, and must always have a good reason to get out of bed each morning," Kaye said.
"He was a really positive man and was one of life's characters. He had a great sense of humour and was sharp as a tack. We all adored him and will miss him so much."