"The degree to which we cultivate the talents of those who pass through this school will be the gauge by which we are judged. Great is the opportunity."

Earlier this month, Taradale lost one of the stalwarts of the local community with the death of Robert Bruce (Bob) Twaddle - most notably the foundation principal of Taradale High School.

"He was a very easy man to work for and he had an incredible sense of humour - there was always a twinkle in his eye," John Pitts remembers. The former Taradale High School principal (2003-2006) worked with the late Bob from 1975 and said he was an "incredibly impressive man who managed to combine very sharp intellect with great humanity".

For 14 years, from 1970 until his retirement in 1984, Bob was the architect of Taradale High School's development, shaping the fabric of the school as it continued to grow in size and reputation.

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"In no time at all Taradale went from a vague feeling that there ought to be a high school there, to a reality and he underpinned the growth of the school very much indeed," Pitts said.

"There were so many talented people at the school that were attracted to Bob and the environment that he had created."

Prior to his role as foundation principal, he was principal of Paeroa College, had been Head of English at Freyberg College, where he had been a foundation teacher beforehand, and had taught French, maths and science at Wanganui Technical College before then.

Current Taradale High School principal and Hawke's Bay Secondary Principals' Association chairman, Stephen Hensman said his retirement did not mean disinterest in the school.

"He remained a faithful follower of ours to the end, reading every newsletter from cover to cover and participating in prize givings until his health no longer allowed it. He made a huge impact as the first principal of THS, quickly filling the school to capacity.

"Throughout his years, he wrote letters of encouragement to his successors and to the school, replete with pride and congratulations for the school's progress, something that has been valued by us, and by me personally.

"It's only other principals who know what it's like to be in the role, so his letters were a great encouragement to this fledgling principal, written from the perspective of one who had considerable experience, and the empathy to match."

While his retirement came as a shock to many, following the death of his wife and strongest supporter, Nancy, his involvement with the wider Taradale community did not dwindle.

He soon became the Taradale Business Association's public relations officer, using his management and literary skills to benefit the community.

Outside of his education portfolio, he had been a member of Rotary since his days in Paeroa. He was a lifelong member of the Taradale Rotary Club, becoming the President in 1978-1979 and was awarded Rotary's highest award, the Paul Harris Fellowship, in 1987.

In other spheres of interest, he was a foundation member of the Taradale Development Association and was at the forefront of those responsible for the Taradale Library relocation and refurbishment project.

Bob also used his considerable advocacy skills to both battle with and support the Napier City Council in the community project to restore the Taradale Clock Tower.

He was also a driving force behind the effort to retain the Taradale Community Policing Centre, collecting signatures, organising public meetings and raising community awareness and support.

Fellow Taradale Rotary Club member Bob McCaw knew him since the 1970s and said he was "widely known and widely respected".

"He was a very easy man to get along with and had a very lovely sense of humour. He hardly had a bad word to say about anybody."

He said he was the type of man who would listen to other people's ideas, and if he believed in it, he would "put his heart and soul" into it.

Twaddle has six children, 18 grandchildren, and a number of great grandchildren.

His oldest son, John Twaddle said his love for his family and his community was enduring, and the world he lived in was the richer for his presence.

"Bob was always fair and principled in everything he did. He was a slave to a sense of order but was never without compassion. He genuinely cared for his community, for his wife, for his family and for his friends.

"His points of view were always cogent, well researched, supported by literary reference where needed, and laced with appropriate Gaelic humour when required. His insight was deep, but his laughter was deeper, and those times when he laughed until his eyes were wet with tears will be an enduring memory to those who knew him."

John said he gave himself tirelessly to whatever set of circumstances needed his attention and gave to his fellow men every ounce of his being.