Family, friends farewell John Easto
John Easto was a man of many passions, whose full life was coloured by the desire to do the right thing.
"In every cause that he pursued he did what he did because it was the right thing to do, rather than use it as a vehicle to increase his own importance," son Antony Easto said.
"And that was how he lived his life."
Family, friends and wellwishers gathered in Hamilton yesterday to farewell the 84-year-old and pay tribute to a man who left an indelible mark on the city.
Easto was killed in a car crash at Tamahere on Thursday afternoon.
He was born in Hull and migrated to New Zealand in 1972.
That same year he helped form the "Melville Schoolboys" club and later served as president of the Melville United football club across three decades, from 1979-1981, then in 1988 and once more in 1990
Easto also served nine years as a trustee on the WEL Energy Trust and, together with his "last of the summer wine" companions, was instrumental in keeping WEL Networks in community ownership.
He was also president of the Hamilton Residents and Ratepayers Association from 2007 to 2012.
Antony Easto said his father was a community-minded man who was not well suited to retirement.
"He was a very passionate man. This passion was very evident if you ever mentioned the words council, stadium or Treaty in his hearing. To do so would initiate a robust conversation that left you in no doubt as to how dad felt."
Daughter Jo said the day before the funeral she held her father's hand, arranged his tie for the last time and chatted to him. "It was the first time I spoke without him interrupting me," she said.
Easto's wit was also captured in a story by long-time friend Ken Hennebry who said his mate teased him for having three televisions.
Hennebry replied by saying he would leave his biggest television to Easto when he died.
Easto had asked what would happen if he died first.
"I said John, then you don't bloody get it," Hennebry said.
Melville United chairman Bruce Holloway said Easto was a man of strong, forthright opinions who always had plenty of advice for football referees, linesmen, coaches, players "and fellow administrators".
Easto was also the club's "financial conscience" and took great pride in the fact a $250,000 floodlighting project at Gower Park was completed without asking for a single dollar from city ratepayers.
Former Hamilton mayor Russ Rimmington said Easto, Hennebry and their "band of brothers" proved critics wrong by winning a five-year battle with American company Utilicorp and in the process ensured WEL Networks remained in community hands.
Easto was a man who battled on behalf of his community and whose work left the city a richer place.
"It was a privilege to know him," Rimmington said.