Drowning victim died 'a hero'

ROB KIDD
Last updated 14:43 21/12/2012
Robert Groves
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

A HERO: Robert Groves is farewelled by friends and family.

Robert Groves
DROWNED: Robert Groves died while trying to help Judith Palmer.

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Robert Carl Groves was a man of the sea - tragic but fitting that was where he died, a hero.

The 64-year-old drowned trying to save 61-year-old Judy Palmer, a friend and neighbour with whom Rob and his wife Denise had travelled to Rarotonga.

Judy and her husband Auckland police chief inspector John Palmer - who was at the funeral today - were on the island for their daughter's wedding.

Judy's funeral took place yesterday in Takapuna.

"Tragic beyond word," said officiating celebrant Keith King.

He explained high winds from the cyclone which had just hit Samoa, caused swells in the lagoon.

Judy was swimming when she lost her footing.

Rob went out in a bid rescue her but the pair were swept out to deeper waters where they died.

At a service for Groves held at the North Shore Memorial Park Crematorium Chapel this afternoon, friends and colleagues talked about his love of the sea.

The Hastings-born man was a highly-qualified diver and had 15 fishing rods tucked away under his house.

He spent time living in Tauranga but had been in Auckland for the last 30 years, honing his skills in the roofing industry.

"As a technical adviser, he was known to every architectural firm in the country," a colleague said.

"When Rob said it was ok, it was ok."

As a member of the Freemasons for more than 30 years, he was used to helping others and men he had met through the group described him as "a gentleman and a scholar".

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