When Susie Simcock became the first woman to be president of the World Squash Federation in 1996 she broke a glass ceiling for women that to a less indomitable person might have seemed shatterproof.
Simcock, who was 81, died last week in Auckland, and Dame Susan Devoy says she was ahead of her time in so many ways.
"At the world level the sport was dominated by men then, so it was quite phenomenal that she would become the world president."
How male-oriented was the international squash world when she became the game's leader for six years? At one official dinner in Pakistan she was asked if she'd mind having her place card read Mr Susie Simcock so the waiters would not be offended that she was sitting at the top table.
To meet Simcock was to like her, and her enthusiasm was as genuine as it was expressive.
"Everything she did," says Devoy, "was with a smile."
During Simcock's childhood, on a farm north of Feilding, she once showed the grit that went with her natural charm.
As a six-year-old she had to bike to school on a gravel road, a round journey of 16km. A boy in her class stole and hid the chain on her bike. A little later he did it again. On the third occasion, she bit his upper arm so hard that decades later at a school reunion he rolled up his sleeve to show her he still had the scar.
Her philosophy of life was shaped while boarding at St Marys Diocesan School in Stratford by the headmistress of the school, a dynamic woman called Elizabeth Roberton. Simcock's husband Jon says that Roberton "taught Susie you can do anything if you set your mind to it".
A natural athlete, while studying physiotherapy in Dunedin (where she met Jon, who was at medical school) she represented New Zealand Universities at hockey and athletics.
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After graduation Susie worked in what is now the Intensive Care Unit at Auckland Hospital where she mainly cared for polio patients, pioneering breathing techniques to allow them to overcome a disease that had sadly put them in ventilators, then known as iron lungs.
Squash became a passion when, as a young mother, she joined the College Rifles club. Starting from scratch as an adult, she was playing A grade within three years. "She had a wicked swing," Susan Devoy recalls. "If you saw someone with a black eye or a cut lip, the first thing you asked was, 'Have you been playing with Susie?'"
Simcock would first manage Devoy, then only 17, in a New Zealand team in 1981, and it would prove to be a brilliant partnership. Their last journey together was to Ireland in 1985, when Devoy won her first world title.
"I was really too young to appreciate it at the time," says Devoy, "but looking back I realise she had the knack of allowing you to be who you were, which was great for me. She was an incredibly hard worker, and, because she was a physio, after a long day looking after us, she'd do whatever was needed as a physio to get you back on the court. Then she also found time to cook the best shortbread in the entire world.
"Susie was the organiser of organisers. After I won the worlds she set out to bring the world championships here in 1987, and she did."
Honours would rain down on Simcock. In 2004 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sports administration and squash. She was a board member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee for 12 years, and was awarded the New Zealand Olympic Order in 2008. She received the Halberg SPARC New Zealand leadership award for sports administration in 2009. New Zealand Olympic president Mike Stanley said "she was a true reformer and champion for what is right in the world."
Two days after Simcock was diagnosed with the cancer that would take her life she attended a meeting of the panel working to reinvigorate New Zealand squash. "Really," says Devoy, "she was just bloody brilliant."
Simock is survived by her husband Jon, and their children, Robyn, Andrew, and Jeremy.