Lady Kay Higgins, wife of Sir Patrick Higgins, has died from cancer at the age of 73.
Lady Higgins had battled with cancer for many years and finally succumbed to the disease at the Arohanui Hospice in Palmerston North on Thursday night.
Lady Higgins and Sir Patrick celebrated their wedding anniversary less than a week before.
Sir Patrick, who is the co-owner and chairman of road contracting giant Higgins, said the business would not be where it was if not for his wife, whom he met at the Latimer Dance Hall in Christchurch in April 1962.
Sir Patrick said that after they married and started a family, "I was working long hours and she was taking care of the children".
"She was a very organised, conservative, caring and wonderful person.
"She was a post for me to lean on."
The knighthood was something they had shared, he said.
"I'm very, very delighted because I have ended up being a knight - and I'm very grateful to be one - but I would never have been there without her."
The couple were known for supporting charitable and community causes, including Arohanui Hospice, Manawatu Cancer Society, Louise Perkins Foundation, Manawatu Turbos and the Manawatu Rugby Academy.
But Sir Patrick said Lady Higgins "ran a little [charitable] regime of her own". She was on various Plunket, kindergarten and school boards and helped others outside school groups, he said.
"She saved people in business and people's clubs."
She had also helped Samaritans for about 25 years.
Sir Patrick said Lady Higgins had been brave in the face of her illness.
"[When diagnosed] she said, ‘Look dear, all I want to do is be happy'," he said.
Lady Higgins is survived by Sir Patrick, her four children and 10 grandchildren.
Her funeral will be held at 2pm on Thursday at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Broadway Ave, Palmerston North.
- Manawatu Standard
Did the Key v Cunliffe debate change your vote?Related story: Support slips for National and John Key