Thursday, February 22, 2024

Crabtree the greatest showman

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Robert Kelvin (Rob) Crabtree, a former senior Rotarian in Howick, has died.

Rob passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Wednesday, October 30. He was 75.

Rob, who was a Rotary District Governor and a Brother of the Freemason’s Lodge of The Liberal Arts in Ellerslie, is the husband of the late Christine.

A NZ Herald death notice reads: “Loved and loving father and father-in-law of Matthew and Helen, Rupert, and Rebecca and Jeff. Cherished Poppa of Georgia, and Sophie; Noah, and Oliver; Finley, and Hamish.

“Donations to Big Brothers Big Sisters Taranaki would be appreciated and may be left at the service. Messages to the Crabtree family may be left on Rob’s tribute page at rob.”

The managing director at CAL Public Relations, Rob went to Hutt Valley High School and studied at Victoria University of Wellington. He was also the former programme supply manager head of sport at Radio New Zealand. From 2010-2013 he was Rotary Coordinator for Rotary International’s Zone 7B.

Bob Jollands, another past Howick Rotarian who was a District Governor For Rotary District 9920 (East Auckland and 8 PI countries) shared some memories.

Rob Crabtree, left, in August 2014 during the official visit of DG Dr Iain Wakefield to Howick Rotary with President Andre.

“Rob was a great showman, especially organising or as MC at any event and 10 years before he became Governor, I requested him to be the Chairman for my District Conference that we held in Fiji at the Fijian,” said Bob.

“His great achievement was to engage Gilbert Grosvenor, the President of the National Geographic of America, as keynote speaker. And as Rob was a details man, he arranged for the US Ambassador to Fiji to meet Gilbert at the airport and deliver him to our conference.”

Bob added: “He was an inspiration to us all as a man of high values and a wonderful family. His boys played rugby with ours as children and I can recall delivering them to a game one day when they proudly told me that their dad had been out dining with the Queen. They were so proud of their Dad and rightly so.”

An excerpt from Giving Back A history of the first 50 years of Howick Rotary 1961 – 2011 written by the late Brian Hanlon captures more of Rob. “Ten years later (after Bob Jollands) another Howick Rotarian took on the leadership of the district. Rob Crabtree came to this club (Howick) by way of the Rotary Club of Stokes Valley where he was a charter member from June 1974.

“He joined Howick in the 1982/3 year bringing with him that enormous energy and sense of enjoyment that became his hallmark. He soon accepted various roles in the club, became fellowship director in 1985, and president in 1989. And of course in Bob Jollands’ year as District Governor, Rob planned and masterminded that hugely successful District conference held in Fiji. His leadership qualities and ability to get things done had been well recognised by this time and he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in 1992.”

Former Howick Borough Mayor Morrin Cooper told the Times: “Rob was a greatly respected resident of Howick for over 30 years…a true Howickian.

“His community services included the Voluntary Fire Brigade, Howick Sea Rescue, radio sports announcer, past-president of Howick Rotary, International Representative of Rotary, recruitment specialist for Rotary, a talented singer and a public relations consultant.

“He certainly would have made an excellent councillor and mayor had he had the opportunity.”

A service to celebrate Rob’s life will be held at Eagars Te Henui Chapel, 174 Lemon Street, New Plymouth on Saturday at 1pm, followed by a private cremation.

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