'Vibrant' Hukanui deputy principal dies

SHIRLEY TYSON: Purple hair-streak, dangly earrings, zany, effervescent.
SHIRLEY TYSON: Purple hair-streak, dangly earrings, zany, effervescent.

Vibrant, a "maths queen", a wonderful lady and "someone truly special" - Shirley Tyson has been described in many ways and it is clear she will be missed.

The popular Hukanui School deputy principal died at home on Monday, just 18 days after she found out she had cancer.

Various tributes including those above have already followed her death notice in the Waikato Times.

Mrs Tyson fitted a lot into her life.

She ran a school ukulele group, had a purple streak in her hair, oversaw trainee teachers, wore African jewellery, was on a maths advisory service, loved speech and drama, and served on a local committee overseeing programmes for gifted and talented students - just to name a few of her activities.

"It's just incredible the amount of stuff she fits into a day", her husband of more than 40 years, Ross Tyson, said.

"She told me she was retiring at 50, and she woke up the other day and she was 63. Just had too much to do."

And she loved her job.

Mrs Tyson began at Hukanui School at the end of 1989 and worked her way up to deputy principal.

Through classroom teaching and wider projects across groups of schools she influenced many students along the way, which showed when she and Mr Tyson were out and about.

"It's like constantly 'hello Mrs Tyson' and little 5-year-olds 'there's Mrs Tyson'."

Mr Tyson is himself a principal - at Cambridge Middle School - and said one of the teachers there was taught by his wife, and still talks about "Mrs Tyson".

Family, friends and school were the three main elements in Mrs Tyson's life, but she found time for several other interests. Her garden has only native trees, which brought the tui back, and she spent years of her weekends on the restoration of the Hukanui gully.

"That's a legacy for Hamilton," Mr Tyson said.

She played the piano and guitar, was part of the Pukete Old Girls social group, and loved testing her foreign language skills when she travelled.

She was caring and "effervescent", Mr Tyson said.

"Dangly earrings, coloured hair, bright clothes and just a zany, happy person that's got a contagious smile."