"Grandad Pope was one of the greatest men I have ever known."
Those were the opening words of Frank Pope as he spoke at his Noel Pope's funeral today in Pyes Pa.
"It was the roll up your sleeves and get the job done sort of greatness," Frank said.
Noel, a former Tauranga mayor, spent 27 years on Tauranga City Council and was mayor for 12 of those years.
He was elected four times; twice between 1983 and 1989 and twice again between 1995 and 2001.
On August 15 at the age of 87, he died peacefully leaving behind his wife, Ena Pope, of 66 years who he met at a blind date set up by mutual friends of their parents after she had just moved to Tauranga.
He lived his life, bar three years, in Tauranga and was laid to rest this afternoon after a battle with cancer.
After moving to Greerton with his wife and three children he became involved with the local sports clubs: netball, rugby and swimming.
He was also a businessman and started Pope Electrical with his wife which they ran from home for 48 years before handing the reins to their son.
With council and business matters constantly on his plate, Frank joked his grandfather never forgot about being a romantic.
"He would be leaving for work and say to Nana, 'Right mother, I'm off now. Kiss my foot'."
It was later in life Noel and Ena moved to Welcome Bay where he created a nine-hole golf course for his grandchildren and became a keen gardener.
"He used to be on the ride-on lawnmower, twice a day, seven days a week," his son Ron Pope said.
Some of Noel's last words to Ron were to make sure the funeral was "no fuss and keep it small", but it was far from small, as more than 100 people filled the chapel and spilt onto the foyer outside.
But Ron believed the sight of many faces peering back at him as he stood up to speak was a testament to the man he was.
"We are all better for having known Noel Pope."
Mayor Greg Brownless was in attendance and laid his mayoral chains on Noel's coffin.
Councillor Paula Thompson told the Bay of Plenty Times earlier this week she felt like she had lost a father, and was the first to speak at the funeral.
"We have all lost a great city father.
"His community involvement was long, wide and deep."
Thompson said she was getting puffed trying to list the long line of Pope's accolades and achievements while in council which included the purchase of land in the K-Valley and his involvement with the construction of the harbour bridge.
One of his greatest disappointments was not being able to fly flags on the harbour bridge, Thompson said.
"Noel's vision and determination to get things done came from his very strong belief that you should not just do things for now, but for the next generations."
She described Noel as a man of vision and a man of courage.
"Noel Pope, a good man, who has achieved so much for Tauranga."
Noel Pope's contribution to Tauranga
Involved for 27 years in local government
Deputy mayor as well as mayor for 12 years
Bay of Plenty United Council (now Bay of Plenty Regional Council) from 1977 to 1989
Member of Habour Bridge Committee
Chairman of the project team responsible for the harbour bridge construction
Civil Defence Controller for 12 years
Tauranga Airport Board chairman
Tauranga Joint Generation Board chairman
Ruahihi Restoration Committee chairman
Electrical Powerboard member
Energy Consumer Trust chairman
Otumoetai Sport and Recreation Trust chairman
Western Bay of Plenty Patriotic council chairman for 13 years
Neurological Foundation chairman for 10 years
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic chairman
Tauranga and Te Puke Judicial Council chairman
Member of the RSA and Automobile Association
Justice of the Peace
Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit