As the newly reconfigured Friends of the Sarjeant executive committee meets for the first time since Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, many are remembering the good work and contributions of Ian McGowan.
McGowan is a past president of the Friends of the Sarjeant Gallery and secretary at the time of his passing on December 3 last year.
Mcowan is sorely missed in Whanganui, says Greg Anderson, Director of the Sarjeant Gallery.
Paying tribute, Anderson said he was a true friend to the Sarjeant.
"He was wise, good-humoured, quietly spoken, civic-minded, worldly and a true gentleman," Anderson said.
McGowan worked to establish Members of the Sarjeant Gallery in 2006, and in 2016 the word 'Members' became 'Friends'.
"We saw a lot of him. Meeting with the Friends more or less every six weeks for the last 14 years, plus being on hand at practically every event and opening on our busy calendar. He is certainly gone far too soon but we celebrate the many great times we had together."
McGowan's widow, Jacqui, said Ian loved art and they enjoyed the many creative events, exhibitions and talks both at the Sarjeant and at other galleries.
The McGowans bought work by a range of local artists, in particular a collection of teapots by Rick Rudd, built up over the years.
"He had a good eye which I relied on when choosing entries for the review," Jacqui said.
Among the many organisations for which he did voluntary work, she said the Sarjeant was the one with which he stayed until his death.
"He was very keen to have the Friends sponsor a prize for the Whanganui Arts Review and was very supportive of things like the Crystal Chain Gang being given money to create their glass work (chandelier) for the Sarjeant, or if the Gallery asked that the Friends support particular artists."
As part of his role as President, McGowan was keen to attract a variety of people to join the Friends of the Sarjeant, believing in training up successors to the role he filled, as he had done during his working life.
"He wanted as wide an age range as possible, and active artists involved. They got three or four new people on the committee last time so I think he'd feel it was in good hands."
Friend and former Whanganui District Council colleague Rosemary Hovey appreciated McGowan's wide range of interests - books, music, art, movies, wines and sport.
"This made him a wanted and valued member on our team for the council quiz nights," Hovey said.
McGowan worked at the Whanganui District Council for many years where he was resident engineer, director of works and, on retirement, deputy chief executive.
He will be missed by many people and organisations who have benefitted from his institutional knowledge and expertise over the years.
An engineer with a business management degree and an understanding of local body affairs and local body engineering, he was also called upon to assist setting up business units for the district council, the library and museum.
McGowan gave his time to many community organisations that included Whanganui Rotary Club, Mainstreet Whanganui, Wanganui Regional Heritage Trust, Wanganui Education Trust, Whanganui Riverboat Restoration Trust and Wanganui Club among others.
But it was not all work and no play. McGowan played golf and rugby, which, at the age of 15 replaced the ice hockey he had played in Toronto before his parents moved to New Zealand.
"He had three broken noses and the surgeon said he wouldn't fix [the third] until Ian promised not to play rugby any more," Jacqui said. "So he took up rugby refereeing and, blow me down, the next season he went on the field and somebody banged into him and broke his ribs. But that didn't put him off, he kept on with it."