John Cole, JP, has been described by his wife Jocelyn as a city-born lad who fell in love with farming.

And, because he did, Rotorua has been blessed with his community spirit for the past 53 years.

Cole died at his home last Wednesday after ongoing health problems. He was 81.

Born in Wellington and raised in Auckland and Christchurch, Cole fell in love with farming at a young age.

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"John knew if he wanted to one day have a farm of his own he needed to get stuck in when he left school," Jocelyn said.

"He worked on farms in Ahipara and Morrinsville and I met him at a Young Farmers and Country Girls Dance."

The Coles married 58 years ago and had three sons while living in the Waikato then two daughters after moving to the Rotorua area.

"John always used to joke it was a change of altitude that produced the result," Jocelyn said.

After moving to Rotorua, the Coles eventually bought a farm in Mamaku. For four decades, the family had a dairy herd and reared sheep and beef.

"John quickly became involved within the community. He was one of the original members of the Rotorua Area Electricity Authority and had the casting vote when the charitable trust was formed.

"He spent many years on school committees, was a JP for many years, but I think his biggest passion was his involvement with the National Party.

"He was also on the Veterinary Club Board for a long time, and a trustee of the Life Education Trust.

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"There are so many more things he did or was involved with."

Jocelyn said her husband was very community minded and serious regarding all the roles he took on.

"He never did anything for self-recognition, it was always for the betterment of things."

The Coles retired to Rotorua about six years ago.

"We've kept a bit of a low profile in the past few years. John hasn't enjoyed the best of health for some time."

Cole is survived by his wife, his five children, and eight grandchildren.

"He leaves a very big hole in our lives," Jocelyn said. "I've known him for just over 60 years.

There's been many a moment during the past few days I've thought 'Dad will know', or 'I must ask John about that'."

• A service for John is being held at Distinction Hotel Conference Room, Fenton St, Rotorua on Wednesday, at 11am.