My father, Bruce Lindsay, who has died aged 91, was a remarkable person whose genuine warmth and sincerity touched everyone he came into contact with. He was the only child of Andrew and Minnie Lindsay, and spent his childhood on their small farm in Fruitlands, Central Otago.
Bruce's father Andrew was a World War I returned soldier and when Bruce was about 18 months old Andrew completed the construction of a modest mud-brick house on the 20-acre holding. Bruce grew up during the Depression and remembered the hardships of isolated farm life during this time.
In his teens he moved to Wellington to work as a clerk for the Department of Education, then joined the Navy early in the war. He served on NZ cruisers in convoys in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The war gave him the chance to travel and for the next four years he served in the radar room of these ships. While stationed on the Isle of Man awaiting his ship's repairs, he managed to finally make contact with his English cousins.
As a returned serviceman he was given the opportunity to go to university in Sydney, where he successfully studied Veterinary Science. While working as a locum vet in Northland he met my mother, Anne Selman, an English nurse, who he went on to marry in 1954. After several years working in the Vet Club for the Edendale Milk Company, Bruce and Anne moved to Alexandra, where they started up a single-handed veterinary practice. At this time Bruce was a wonderful father to a growing family of five children and in 1970 another son, Andrew, joined us and the Lindsay family was complete.
In 1965, we moved to Whangarei, where my father became a partner in the Cairnfield Road Veterinary Practice " Hayes & Lindsay. He particularly enjoyed the large-animal practice, where he had the chance to go out on rural visits and meet the farmers and their livestock. If he was lucky, the farmer's wife would present him with tea and cake, before he left to make another rural visit. Many a night Dad would be called out to an emergency and return home to regale the family with the grisly details of the case, very often while we were eating our dinner.
My father loved to take us to the races at Kensington Park, and we especially enjoyed accompanying him when he was working in the capacity of race vet. Sadly, he was sometimes called upon to destroy injured horses, a task which he always performed with great compassion and which affected us all deeply. The local A&P show was another highlight on our calendar, and Dad was often called upon to judge various sections, including the goats.
A memorable event in his career was successfully operating on the throat of a valuable horse to relieve a serious breathing condition. Daughter Jane well remembers him practising in the garage on a real horse's head, so keen was he to get it right.
After many busy years at Cairnfield Road, my father left private practice and joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as a veterinary officer. He always enjoyed the travelling aspect of his work, which led him to take early retirement in order to escort racing horses and cattle shipments to countries including Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia, Venezuela and Mauritius to name a few. He really loved other cultures, and discovering new places and culinary delights. Chillies became a passion, which he grew very successfully back home in the greenhouse. No chilli was too hot for Dad, and he loved tricking others into a tasting session.
My parents loved gardening, and spent many hours tending to their acre garden in Weaver St. Almost all vegetables were home grown and the house was always bursting with children and a menagerie of animals, dogs, cats, chickens, fish, birds and even sheep.
Bruce was passionate about conserving New Zealand flora and fauna, and participated in trips to Chatham Island to eradicate pests and protect the native species. He and Anne also joined the beach patrol where they walked for miles along Northland's coasts, documenting dead sea birds for research into species decline.
He was an adventurous tramper, and the family recall many occasions when they were dragged on walks, which went "off trail", and threatened nights spent lost in the bush. Bruce always got them home in the end, though, never admitting he was lost.
My father was always interested in "the human condition", and felt compelled to help others where he could. In the 1980s he volunteered to help acclimatise Thai refugees into New Zealand life, later going on to volunteer a lot of his time as a phone counsellor for the Samaritans.
Dad was a founding member of a local HIV support group and part of the wider international Aids support community. I will especially miss his good humour, thirst for life and the wonderful chats we had when accompanying him on the daily dog walk around Kensington Park.
Anne died in 2009.
Bruce is survived by his children, Susan, Mary, Jane, Margaret, Michael and Andrew, his grandchildren Sharon, Justin, Rosie, Geoffrey, Catherine, Elizabeth, Sarah, Jonathan, Hannah, Joe, Charise, Aimee and Lindsay, and his great grandchildren Ricky, Matilda and Stella.
-Obituary supplied by Bruce's daughter Jane.