Otematata woman Vicky Munro is upset that she did not get more than 39 years of marriage.
Her husband, Roualeyn "Ronnie" Munro, died in Greymouth Hospital on Saturday following a jetboat accident near Haast the night before.
The farmer and volunteer fire fighter was jetboating on the Waiatoto River with a group of friends when they hit a rock and flipped about 7pm on Friday.
The group were all wearing life jackets, but the impact threw everyone into the river, causing Munro severe injuries. The 64-year-old was flown to Greymouth Hospital, where he died the next day.
''He fought pretty well,'' Mrs Munro said. ''It's just something that went badly wrong.''
Mrs Munro said her husband had been unwell for some time but had rallied enough to go on the annual boating trip with friends.
''He was very much looking forward to going away on the jet boat.''
Local search and rescue members did everything they could to help after the accident happened, she said.
Ronnie Munro had known most of them personally through his work as deputy chief of the Otematata Volunteer Fire Brigade and his rescuers went ''beyond the call of duty'' for him, she said.
A newly-wed Ronnie Munro had joined the volunteer fire brigade in 1976 after experiencing a small fire at his first home with Vicky. The couple had been due to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary on Saturday.
''He was a really kind and generous man. It's a huge loss to our family as well as the community,'' his widow said.
Mr Munro had two adult children, David and Karen, and two grandchildren, Ella and Harry, who lived in Philadelphia.
''They were very much the light of his life. He spoke to the grandchildren in American on the iPad and just adored them,'' Mrs Munro said.
None of the jet boat's other occupants were injured.
Police are investigating the accident.
- The Timaru Herald