This summer the Chronicle is bringing you another look at some of the best content of 2019. This story originally ran on May 23, 2019
A Whanganui man who reached the pinnacle of New Zealand rugby is being remembered as humble person despite his international accomplishments.
Former All Black Douglas Wilson, also known as Doug, died at Kowhainui Hospital on Saturday. He was 88.
Wilson was born in Whanganui in 1931 but moved to Christchurch as a child, where he started playing rugby.
It led to his being selected to play for the Canterbury provincial side in 1952.
Not long after, Wilson was picked to play for the All Blacks on the 1953–1954 tour of Britain, Ireland, France and North America.
During the tour he played in 15 games including two tests, scoring five tries and one drop goal.
Wilson's international debut fell on his 23rd birthday when the All Blacks took on England in London.
The All Blacks won the game 5-0.
The second test Wilson played in was against Scotland two weeks later, which the All Blacks won 3-0.
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Whanganui rugby historian John (JB) Phillips said it was a time when international rugby tours were much longer than they are now, with the team being overseas for about six months.
Wilson was given his test cap in 2010 and at the time told the Chronicle his call up to play test rugby was not greeted with unanimous approval by the press with the tour party.
"The headlines over there were something like 'Birthday present for Wilson' - and then criticised me for not playing any good. Then I played the following test in Scotland - then I got a poisoned leg."
After the tour Wilson married Janice, who recalled her husband's playing time on tour being cut short due to injury.
"The games only stopped because there had been so much snow on one of the grounds that they had to put straw down, and when he got tackled he skinned his knee and got an infection, that was why he didn't get any more games."
After getting married the couple moved to Wellington, where Wilson went on to represent another provincial side.
He played several seasons with the Oriental-Rongotai club and represented Wellington from 1955 to 1958.
During his days on the field the first five-eighth and second five-eighth player was described as having devastating speed, sure hands, and secure cover defence.
After spending some time living in Auckland and working as a travelling salesman, Doug and his wife shifted to Whanganui in the mid 1960s.
Wilson owned and operated a menswear store which catered to the Whanganui farming community, and began work as a secretary of the Meat Workers Union after selling the business.
Janice said it's during this time that Doug really helped the local community.
"A lot of meat companies were shutting down because of strikes and he talked to the men about having shift work to keep their jobs because of their mortgages, and they actually agreed," she said.
"He went to the banks and got them to be more lenient on the mortgages and got a food bank for the workers, so he really did a good thing for Whanganui."
Being a keen athlete, Wilson also excelled in cricket and became a Canterbury representative in his younger years, and enjoyed playing golf, squash and bowls while in Whanganui.
Although he never played for a Whanganui side, JB Phillips said Wilson supported the local game.
"He took a keen interest in Whanganui rugby, he went to quite a few Whanganui representative matches and also watched a lot of club rugby," Phillips said.
Daughter Shelley Vittise remembers her father being quite reserved about his All Black playing days.
"He was a very humble man, he never said he was an All Black and never really mentioned it".
Vittise recalls herself and her three siblings when they were younger, huddled around a TV with their father to watch early-morning All Blacks games, while her mum prepared warm Milo.
Janice said her husband wasn't the type to boast about his international rugby achievements.
"He was proud of what he had done but he didn't want to push it out himself, people would ask and he would talk to them about it but he wouldn't just wear a blazer for the sake of people thinking he was an All Black."
Janice said in his later years Doug lived at Kowhainui Home where the caregivers had a great relationship with the former All Black and treated each other like family.
Wilson's funeral service is this afternoon in Whanganui.