Distinguished RNZAF pilot and businessman Neil Manssen lived a long, healthy and satisfying life, reports Liz Wylie.
The 97-year-old died last week after a short illness.
Neil Marris Manssen was born in Whanganui in 1922 and grew up to become a distinguished RNZAF pilot during World War II, training other pilots at Ohakea Air Base and flying Corsairs in the Pacific.
He made his first solo flight in a Tiger Moth plane as a 20-year-old.
In 2008, Wanganui RSA president Graeme Pleasants surprised him by arranging for him to fly again in the very same aircraft.
Thinking he was simply going to pose for a photo with the plane, the then 85-year-old got to sit in the front cockpit while the plane was piloted by Ohakea Squadron Leader Pete Cochran, who gave him control at times during the flight.
"I came to Ohakea for a visit with some RSA people a while ago and saw the Tiger Moth," Manssen told the Chronicle at the time.
"When I got home, I had a look at my logbook, and it was in that particular Moth that I did my first solo flight.
"It was marvellous. I never thought I'd do that again. The thing I found most exciting was the spin. We did a couple of loops and that was fun, but I forgot about the G-force coming out of it."
Then on Anzac Day in 2013, Manssen was treated to a flight in Brendon Deere's restored 1945 Grumman Avenger.
He described the ride as "a bit bumpy" but said it was a dream come true.
Dickason says her father always enjoyed new experiences but despite being a bit of a daredevil he was a devoted family man.
"He worked hard and always took good care of mum and us kids.
"He worked as an accountant for Carter Holt Harvey for 29 years and rose to the top of the ranks."
After the war, Manssen married local girl Pat Durling and the couple had two daughters - Andrea and Raewyn.
Pat died earlier the year.
"They were married for 69 years and they were devoted to each other," Dickason said.
"Dad always had a wide social circle and he and mum made friends wherever they lived.
"As dad was promoted within Carter Holt Harvey, they moved to Palmerston North and then to Auckland."
The couple returned to live in Whanganui in 1988 when Manssen became a director at Waverley Sawmills.
"It was only supposed to be a short-term commitment but dad really turned things around there and stayed on until 2003."
Dickason says her father also excelled at fatherhood and was also a brilliant father-in-law to her husband Hayden and grandfather to Liam and Darcy.
Friends are invited to attend a service to celebrate Neil Manssen's life in the Forrest Lawn Chapel, 208 Guyton St, Whanganui on Wednesday, November 13 at 1pm to be followed by private cremation.