Tineke Baldwin says as a former Navy wife, in some ways, not having husband Peter there is not very different from when he used to be away at sea for months at a time.
What is hard now though, she says, is trying to accept that Peter, who died on May 13, is not coming home again.
"We had a wonderful life. We did do lots of stuff and we were planning to do lots more."
Captain Peter Baldwin (retired), lived in Tūrangi for 20 years and left his mark on the town, making a wide circle of friends, contributing his skills and knowledge to the Tongariro National Trout Centre Society and to helping keep local arts society Tūrangi Artworks active.
Born in Ontario, Canada in 1942 he served 12 years with the Canadian Navy and at age 20 met Dutch-born Tineke when she came to Canada to visit her sister, who had married a Navy doctor.
"Apparently he saw me but I never saw him while we were playing bingo in the officers' mess." recalls Tineke. "Then on the weekend I went with my sister to this little ski resort and there he was. He approached me which was unusual because he wasn't that type, and he saw me struggling and said 'can I help you?' and I said 'no thank you'. And my sister said 'you fool!' So after that I said he could. That was in 1963."
Peter was a keen cross-country skier and in Canada competed in biathlon at a high level. In Tūrangi he would often head up to Whakapapa for a morning's skiing.
In the Navy, Peter jumped at the chance to fly helicopters. But when the three Canadian armed forces amalgamated, he had to choose between flying helicopters and going to sea. So he transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy, serving a further 22 years and "thoroughly enjoying his time". After serving in Devonport, and Whenuapai and flying Wasp helicopters, Peter and Tineke had two wonderful years when he was stationed in Singapore in the late 1970s and he later had a desk job at New Zealand Defence Force HQ in Stout St, Wellington.
After leaving the Navy, Peter briefly worked for the Ministry of Fisheries investigating Russian ships fishing in New Zealand waters and then he and Tineke lived in Europe for six years where they bought a barge and cruised the canals. Out of the blue, Peter was offered a job managing a factory that made gas meters and thanks to his interest in languages, his Dutch was up to the task. He also spoke and read French.
When they returned to New Zealand they were unsure where to settle. Former Navy friends recommended Tūrangi.
"We were never thinking of staying this long but it's actually a nice little community and the people have been fantastic," Tineke says.
Peter started up his own company, NZ Meter, which imports and distributes equipment for the gas industry. Succession planning is now in place for the business. Tineke says it was mostly a part-time concern but Peter enjoyed it and it kept him engaged and interested.
"He would always go to his office but it would only be a couple of hours or sometimes the whole day."
As a keen fly fisherman and someone who was also community-minded, it didn't take long for Peter to volunteer to help with the children's fishing days at the Tongariro National Trout Centre, and he soon joined the trout centre society, eventually going on to become chairman himself, a post he still held when he died. Vice-chairman Kim Miles says Peter took over the position at a time of change.
"He steadied the ship and got the priorities right. We got a strategic plan sorted out and we've had a nice steady board for the last few years. He certainly did his bit and has made his mark."
While in Tūrangi Peter took up painting, eventually becoming involved in local art society Tūrangi Artworks. He was also a skilled craftsman and made beautiful items from timber.
His friend Jen Shieff says Peter was "the kindest man you could ever meet", helping out his friends as needed and supporting his grandson Jaden out on boat trips on Lake Taupō.
Peter died suddenly on May 13. He is survived by wife Tineke, children Lise and Mark and grandchildren Paige, 19, and Jaden, 17.