Leon Geddes enjoyed it when people asked him what he did.
“I’d look them in the eye, and say I build spaceships,” he told N8N’s Annette Taylor for a column in the Waikato Times a few years back.
“When you’re a grey-haired old fella like me and you tell people you build spaceships, they look at you sort of peculiar.”
Leon passed away unexpectedly on Monday, and his funeral service was this afternoon at the Hamilton Park Crematorium Chapel.
He has been an active member of the Gordonton community since he came to teach at the original school in 1959, as a 21-year-old.
He talked about the old school for the history column. “It was getting pretty run down and was bulging at the seams… we used inkwells as well, which were a pain. There were corrugated iron toilets down by the old fence.”
He remembered the day the school inspector paid a visit to his classroom, one stormy day.
“It was blowing a howling gale and the roof was starting to lift off, you could hear the iron rattling around.
“I got some nails and a hammer and was busy putting the roof back on, when a head comes up over the side and asked if I could use some help. I should have thought of it at the time, but it was the inspector.
“We put the roof back on and went and had a cup of tea.”
Working as a teacher meant he also had to drive the school bus. In 1962 he bought Leslie Coaches from the original owner, who had named the company after his daughter. The company was later sold to Go Bus, so he said, he could “have a quieter life and retire.”
That didn’t quite happen, and he found himself building Spaceships, the little orange camper vans seen zipping throughout the NZ. With his son Neil, he founded the well-known Kiwi Experience bus company, specialising in the backpacker market.
It was standing room only at the funeral, and there were many laughs and tears.