Newspaper Article 2015 – Tireless worker leaves his legacy

Tireless worker leaves his legacy

25 July 2015   OBITUARY Russell Spiller November 1920-July 2015   By Doug Laing

NAPIER identity Russell Spiller died on Tuesday, in the same house where he was born almost 95 years ago.

Mr Spiller was born on November 23, 1920, in the house at the town end of Kennedy Rd – originally No 1, now No 5, the property bought by parents Percy and Cissy Spiller for £10, and the house built for £100,

A career photographer who captured possibly millions of Napier moments over several decades, many with a trademark 1940s Leica camera, Russell Spiller carried on a legacy of community involvement established by his father, who was for 35 years the secretary of the Napier 30,000 Club, the first of several such organisations developed around the country to encourage growth of their communities. Even before World War I it was significantly involved in the beautification and development of Marine Parade, which Russell Spiller became involved with after his return from World War II, foremost in the Napier Aquarium Society, which operated from the mid-1950s in the basement of the Napier War Memorial Hall, founding what has been reputed to have been New Zealand’s first aquarium.

The development of Marineland in the 1960s, and from 1976 to the south end of Marine Parade what is now known as the National Aquarium of New Zealand, seemed natural progression to a man who extended his civic involvement into two terms on the Napier City Council, from 1986 to 1992. Mr Spiller continued to have a significant influence with his devotion to the city and knowledge of it, long after his departure from the council table, as noted by Alan Dick, Napier Mayor from 1989 to 2001.

“He was such an enthusiastic person for the good of Napier,” Mr Dick said. “He was deeply involved with the flow-on from the renewal of Napier after the 1931 earthquake, in that growth of Napier to what it is now. He was hugely respected, with many friends, and he will be sadly missed.”

In recent years he was still vocal on Marine Parade issues, explaining three years ago: “I’m prejudiced because our family have swum on this beach since 1873.”

He and second wife Corinne had reinforced the connection in 1983 when they donated a replacement gazing ball within the Marine Parade’s Veronica Sun Bay. Living all his life in Napier except during his war service, he went to school at Nelson Park, Napier Intermediate and Napier Boys’ High School.

In 2009, he and Corinne celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary, after 50 years. He is survived by her, by sons Perry and Nigel and daughters Rhonda and Sherrise, and by eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

His funeral will be held at the Napier Sailing Club on Monday starting at 2.30pm.

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Newspaper article

Date published

25 July 2015

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  • Doug Laing


Hawke's Bay Today


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