Derin Greenslade never let losing part of his left leg hold him back and no matter what life threw at him, "the only way was up".
These are the words of Derin's grief-stricken father Ben (Rex) Greenslade, 82, who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times from his Bethlehem home yesterday about his son, who is well-known in Tauranga for his business acumen, his singing talent and his love for motorsport.
"Everything feels quite raw, and we still cannot believe Derin has gone. It's been a huge shock," he said.
Ben said Derin, who died aged 54 in Waikato Hospital on Sunday, was a battler to the end.
Two months ago his son was complaining of a sore back and he ended up in Tauranga Hospital after catching a "very nasty" bacterial infection.
The infection attacked Derin's heart valve and then spread to other parts of his body and, despite having surgery last Thursday, he never recovered.
"We were told by his doctor that this type of infection was normally survivable," Ben said.
Ben wept when asked to described his youngest son's character and personality.
"As a dad, Derin was such a good man, and we were very close. He used to call me Dadbro," he said.
Ben, Derin and his partner Lindy Dwyer had travelled through the United States in June and July and also spent time in Cuba.
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"We all had a wonderful time, and there was nothing to indicate there was anything wrong with his health," Ben said.
Born in Otaki on February 21, 1965, Derin was the middle child of Ben and the late Dawn Greenslade who died 10 years ago.
Derin has two siblings: His older brother Andy owns Greenslades Furniture on Cameron Rd, and younger sister Linda Greenslade is the branch manager of Bayleys Real Estate in Mount Maunganui.
He also has a 22-year-old son, Adam.
The successful Tauranga businessman was the chief executive of Furniture Zone Ltd and also a partner with Dwyer and several others, which has 25 branches nationwide, including five branches in the greater Tauranga area.
Derin was renowned for his mantra "the more you do, the more you can do", Ben said.
"From a business perspective, to Derin, it was more than just about business, it was all about great relationships and many of his clients became firm friends.
"He was a very caring loving person, and he showed unreserved great loyalty to his friends. We expect at least 500 people to be at his funeral service on Friday."
Derin had been involved in endurance racing since the early 2000s and also enjoyed riding motorbikes - hobbies he continued despite suffering serious injuries in a crash.
His lower left leg was amputated in October 2009 after a motor-racing crash during the South Island Endurance Series at Teretonga Park near Invercargill.
Ben said his son never let this hold him back, and had his vehicles altered so he could continue racing.
"That is why his motorbike was modified, so he could ride it safely with a prosthesis, and his racing car was also modified so he could drive it safely.
"Derin was a very positive man and the only way was up... he used to call his gammy leg Leroy."
Derin was soon adding other exploits to his resume - climbing Mauao in 2011 for the 10th time since his accident, then climbed a mountain in China the same year.
An accomplished singer and entertainer, Derin was formerly in the band Music Corporation with one of The Chicks' singers, Suzanne Lynch.
Ben said Lynch was expected to sing at his son's funeral as per Derin's request.
Derin's musical exploits began while attending Otumoetai College when he and some school mates formed a band called Catch 22 and never looked back.
Derin's partner Lindy Dwyer said they became life partners and business partners about three-and-half years ago.
"We were true soulmates and shared so many wonderful times together, and it's been a beautiful journey," she said.
Sister Linda said she and other family used to call her late brother Bubs.
"Derin was a kind, fun-loving brother with the biggest heart in the world."
During the upcoming North Island NZ Endurance Cars Racing series, a minute's silence will be held in Derin's memory, his father said.
Derin Greenslade's funeral service will be held in the Bethlehem Baptist Church Hall, 90 Bethlehem Rd, from 1pm on November 15.