Picton stories stole reporter's heart

BILL MCELHINNEY
Last updated 09:34 20/08/2014
Dee Wilson
PEOPLE PERSON: Journalist Dee Wilson was at home in Picton and the Marlborough Sounds.

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Picton lost one of its most enthusiastic advocates last week with the death of Dee (Deirdre) Wilson.

Dee and her late husband, Peter, arrived in Picton in 1983 on their 12-metre yacht Pounamu. They had come on holiday from their home in Lyttelton but fell in love with Picton and decided to stay.

Dee was the daughter of John Moffett, editor of the Otago Daily Times from 1946 until his death in 1961. She began her training as a journalist on rival newspaper The Evening Star.

She and Peter had been radio journalists in Christchurch in 1983, and when they moved north Peter joined Radio Marlborough while Dee joined the Marlborough Express. She became the first reporter for the Saturday Express when the popular weekend paper was launched in 1985.

Peter also eventually joined the Express, working as a general reporter on the daily newspaper.

Afternoon newspapers do not normally indulge in April 1 pranks, but the Wilsons pulled off a convincing hoax one year when the publication of the Saturday Express coincided with April 1. Readers picked up their Saturday paper to be told on the front page that a "hermit" had been found in a remote part of the Marlborough Sounds where he had been living, undiscovered, for years.

The clincher was a very convincing photograph of a stooped and dishevelled grey-haired man, face partly obscured, being led off a launch moored at the Picton wharf, by the so-called discovery party.

The man, of course, was none other than Peter Wilson (who always had a slightly dishevelled look about him). It wasn't until readers turned to the inside pages that they found it was all a gentle leg-pull.

Dee became Picton reporter for the Express in 1992, spending 17 years covering floods, fires, ferry strikes and the uproar over the wake wash from the fast ferries.

However, it was the community stories that she enjoyed most: the personal accomplishments, the wedding anniversaries, the day to day events of people in a small community.

She was a people person.

Dee continued to live in Picton after she retired from the Express in 2009.

Peter died about seven years ago. Dee's first husband, Tony Kerby, continued to visit them from his home in Canada and spoke at her memorial service at the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club in Picton on Friday.

Those whose lives Dee touched and whose stories she told will remember her fondly as a person who cared for those she came in contact with and who loved the seaside town she chose to stay in.

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- The Marlborough Express

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