Timaru's Alan Talbot, who was at the forefront of South Canterbury local authority amalgamation in the early 1970s, has died.
He was 94.
Mr Talbot was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 1979 for services to local government.
Born in Timaru in 1917, Mr Talbot attended school at Hazelburn and Waitaki Boys High, while an interest in ham radio led him to enlisting with the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a radar mechanic, serving in Northland, Norfolk Island and in the United Kingdom during World War II. It was during his stint at a small base in Cornwall that he met his wife, Amy ("Ginny").
He returned to the farm after the war but became increasingly involved in local government, beginning with his election to the Geraldine County Council in 1951.
His influence as a councillor led to him being elected chairman in 1961, and in 1974 he became the chairman of the Strathallan County Council, formed from the merger of the Geraldine and Levels councils. Mr Talbot helped drive the merger. In a 1980 interview with The Timaru Herald, he was adamant about the amalgamation's benefits.
"I am sure the ratepayers of the Strathallan County now enjoy a much higher standard of service, and at less cost, than would have been the case if the two counties had remained as separate entities," he said.
His defeat ended a 29-year term as the councillor for Kakahu riding, a period that also saw him elected as national chairman of the Counties Association, and a member of the National Roads Board.
At the time of his defeat, he told The Timaru Herald that perhaps he would have more time to "relax", but Mr Talbot subsequently became heavily active in several community organisations and government boards.
He became chair of the Pesticides Board (which oversaw the sale of all plant and insect pesticides in the country), became the ministerial appointment to the Historic Places Trust, and in 1985 was a founding member of the Timaru Civic Trust, whose first major success was the retention of the Landing Services building.
Stepping down from the national Historic Places Trust board in 1996, he remained involved with the South Canterbury branch until last year.
Other voluntary work included involvement with the South Canterbury Conservation Trust, while he served as a justice of the peace for more than 50 years.
His tireless work saw him awarded a number of commendations: in 2001, he was awarded the Timaru District Community Award for outstanding voluntary service, while in 2005, he received the Heritage Award from the Historic Places Trust.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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