Darts partner mourns 'nice guy'

Blenheim man Robert Leigh Stobie, who died after a suspected heart attack while driving his car in central Blenheim on Saturday, was a nice guy and an excellent team member, his darts partner said yesterday.

Julie Neal met Mr Stobie, 72 and known as Leigh, about eight years ago when she started playing darts in Blenheim. For the past five years she has been his mixed-pairs partner and played with him weekly as well as in tournaments.

Mr Stobie played for the Marlborough Darts Association every Tuesday night, and the charter club, played at the Clubs of Marlborough, every Friday night.

"He was just a very nice guy," Mrs Neal said.

"He liked teaching you to play darts. There was no pressure - just do the best you can."

He was a family man and had a wife and a son in Blenheim, she said.

Before retiring two or three years ago, he worked for a roading outfit in Blenheim and practised carpentry.

A passionate rugby fan, Mr Stobie was a strong supporter of the Tasman Makos and the Marlborough Red Devils.

"Whenever he could make a game, he would go," Mrs Neal said.

He was also a private man and took a while to get to know but, when club members went away for darts tournaments, Mr Stobie would socialise and join in, she said.

"A lot of people saw a different side of him."

When her team, made up of her two sons and her daughter-in-law, needed a stronger player for their Tuesday night association competition, Mr Stobie was their first choice.

"We adopted him into our family," she said.

He was known as a very good player and could pull out some brilliant darts, she said. "He could still beat a lot of these younger ones."

Mr Stobie is believed to have lost control of the vehicle he was driving after having a heart attack about 11.20am on Saturday.

He drove through the roundabout at Alfred and Hutcheson streets before coming to rest on the garden outside Clubs of Marlborough.

The matter has been referred to the coroner.

The Marlborough Express