Family and friends will today pay tribute to the life of Whangārei stalwart Keith Andrews at a memorial service, marking his death from cancer and celebrating a life of business and sporting success.
Andrews died this month aged 65 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by wife Vicki, children Kurtis, Camden and Holly, and five grandchildren.
"We value that year, really value it," said Vicki Andrews. It gave the family time as Andrews submitted to chemotherapy, then the inevitable.
Andrews died on November 13 with family and friends close. A private funeral followed. The memorial service today is intended to acknowledge the broad impact he had on many in our community.
Vicki Andrews said her husband of 42 years had always been dismissive of eulogies.
"Keith always said, 'you're always a good guy when you die - people get up and say wonderful things'."
But then, she said, he always shrugged off a compliment. He was always "humble and hard-working".
At the time they met, Andrews was captured by his first passion - sailing. He had formed a close friendship when at school with Jack Lloyd, a Whangārei sailing legend and internationally regarded yachting official.
Through Lloyd, he learned to sail and competed through stages to the point where the pair built and then competed in their own yacht, the 23-foot Straight Lace.
They followed with the 36-foot Lovelace, which they sailed in the Pan Am Clipper Cup series in Hawaii in 1978.
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Lovelace was sold while in Hawaii and he returned with money for a section on which to build a house.
Vicki Andrews said there was a time when turned from sport to business knowing "you had to have a job" even if "he'd prefer to be sailing".
Having trained as a mechanic aged 15, he had an underlying trade to rely on.
But it was the establishment and growth of Keith Andrews Trucking which engaged his determination and work ethic.
It was established in 1991 with five staff in a rented workshop. The company went on to sell an average 25 per cent of new heavy commercials registered in the region. Sales some years hit 50 per cent.
Today, it owns its Rewarewa Rd headquarters in Whangārei, has another wing of the business across the road and has offices in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.
Son Kurtis Andrews, who has taken over running the company, put staff numbers at 170.
The growth he explained by his father's determination to meet customer's needs.
"Opportunities came to him over the years. I guess they cropped up because he was focused on doing a good job for his customers.
"We know how to sell trucks and know what parts you need."
His father's illness accelerated Kurtis Andrews into leading the business earlier than intended.
"There was a general plan dad would retire," said Kurtis Andrews. "We didn't know when that was going to be."
Kurtis Andrews was running the Auckland office at the time the cancer diagnosis was made. Inside a month, he had stepped in and Keith Andrews stepped back.
The connection to the business was such that Keith Andrews' casket was loaded into a truck after the funeral and taken to the trucking firm, where staff formed a line to pay their respects.
Vicki Andrews: "He was a man of few words, and those words you remembered. They will be in our ears for years."
• The memorial service is at Marsden Cove Marina today, from 2pm to 5.30pm.