A mighty totara has fallen with the passing of Ronald George Chadfield.
Affectionately known by many as Ron, Ronnie, Chaddy or simply koro to his friends, family and wider whanau. The man was a rock to those who knew him closely.
Born on May 19, 1943 in Whanganui, Ron lived a full and varied life and was a boxer of some note during his early years, but it was the land, the bush, the forests and the ocean that held a special place in his heart.
Ron had a passion for hunting and fishing and even during his working life the land played an integral part. For the best part of 50 years Ron worked for Bullocks in Whanganui and there was not an earthmoving machine or motorised tool he couldn't tame.
Ron was not a pillar of society in the traditional sense of the term, he was not one our elected officials on council, or a member of any of the city's ample community organisations, but he was a real stand up guy who commanded respect in many other ways.
His kind and generous heart and his infamous sense of humour endeared him to many. He was a legend in his own lifetime, a character, a strong man who didn't conform if he could help it.
He was the fifth of 12 children born to Nola and Jack Chadfield. Ron and several of his brothers boxed with success. A ring was set up in the house and Jack was the trainer. He and his brothers were no soft touches and everyone at the time knew not to mess with the Chadfields.
Ron was revered throughout the New Zealand boxing fraternity, evidenced by a letter read out at his funeral service.
The letter was from Steve Nacora, a boxer of note during the 1970s who had licked Ron's younger brother Dave in a fight.
"Ron came out of retirement to avenge the loss Dave had against me. We fought in the Whanganui Town Hall and in the 10th round he blew me away — it was one of those memories I'd rather forget," Nacora said.
The hard exterior and no nonsense attitude was tempered by his unconditional love of those closest to him.
He married Caroline (nee Norton) in 1964 when he was 21 and separated 16 years later, but not before Debbie (deceased), Brent and Taara were born. Perry and Lisa arrived from other unions. And then in 1985 he married Gayle who brought her children Cyndy, Belinda and Paul to the mix.
His acceptance of his step children and unconditional love he gave to all is what encapsulated the man. He remained great friends with all of his partners, children and step children until his death on November 9 this year after a courageous battle with cancer aged 75.
But it was pig hunting that got Ron really excited and there were many a story told and retold around the kitchen table and each time the pig would get bigger and its tusks longer until Gayle finally banned the very mention of the subject.
The ban was all in good humour though and the passing of his beloved Gayle some two and a half years ago floored the big man.
However, Whanganui pig hunter and author Raymond de la Haye had many more tales to tell about hunting with most involving Ron.
"We all have a journey in life and sometimes an event or a person has such an impact that it sets the stage for the journey ahead," de la Haye said during Ron's funeral service.
"In 1974 as a skinny 14-year-old kid with a huge love of hunting and the outdoors. One Friday night my dad came home from the pub and said he had jacked it up for me to go hunting with Mr Chadfield — he would pick me up at 5am the next morning," de la Haye recalled.
"I don't think I slept all night with the excitement and anticipation of the hunt all too much. Eventually the head lights of the old Austin truck Ronnie drove cut through the dark and it was here."
That hunt and many, many subsequent forays into the hills were ideal fodder for de la Haye after he was convinced to put pen to paper and write his book No Dogs, No Hogs in 1977.
"It was a great success and many people contacted me afterwards telling me how they knew and had hunted with Ron. I dedicated the book to the man that started it all. Ron taught and showed me much."
In his parting words at the service, de la Haye honoured the man who kindled his passion for hunting with a verse.
The forest is still, one of its own has gone The songbirds are quiet too solemn for song It is you they mourn, you're time at its end It is you they mourn, the legend my friend
Ron Chadfield is survived by his children and step children and siblings Margie, Dot, Harry, Roy, Dave, Rose, Lorraine, Linda, John and Paul and special friends Caroline and Rose. He joins beloved wife Gayle, sister Dawn, daughter Debbie and parents Nola and Jack in the afterlife.