Sports fan dies
A Hastings funeral director and sporting enthusiast, Mr Charles Oswald (“Ossie”) Tong died yesterday afternoon. He was 86.
Mr Tong was born in Hastings and educated at Central School.
His father established the funeral directors S. T. Tong and Sons in 1878 which Mr Tong joined after serving a building and cabinet making apprenticeship in Hastings.
He married Miss Florence Jarden from Christchurch in 1914 at St Matthews Church, Hastings.
For a time the funeral directors occupied a two storeyed building in Karamu Road, Hastings. During the 1931 earthquake, when the adjacent newspaper building collapsed, Mr Tong jumped from a second storey window to drive to his children’s school to make sure they were unharmed.
Mr Tong retired as a funeral director in the early 1960s.
Throughout his life he was interested in many different types of sport.
He became a life member of the Kia Toa Bowling club and instigated the idea of setting up lighting to make night bowls possible.
The Tong Cup competition for junior pairs bowls is played in Hawkes Bay annually.
Mr Tong was also associated with the Hawke’s Bay Wrestling Association when it was in existence and was on the executive of the Hastings Athletic Club from the 1920s for many years.
He became a life member of the Orphans Club in 1928 and presented the chief’s chair and table and the conductor’s podium to the Hastings Group.
Mr Tong was also one of the oldest surviving members of the Hastings Masonic Lodge.
His love of sports was passed on to both of his children. Rona Tong won a bronze medal for New Zealand on the sprint track at the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney.
Sam Tong was a Hawke’s Bay Rugby representative from 1939 until 1947.
More recently, Mr Tong made a number of donations of trophies and funds to sporting organisations in Hastings.
Mr Tong is survived by his son, Sam, and daughter Rona, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.