Goodbye Leon

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.

leslie bus

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye Leon

  • February 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Farewell “Mr GEDDES”
    When you first came to Gordonton, to teach, you were billeted at Bill SHARP’s on the corner of Ballard Road [possibly Lake Road at that time] and some where I’m sure, there is a photo of you on the uni-cycle, riding around the clothesline, to the amusement of all. As well as the teaching, large numbers of Gordonton raised kids will have stories to tell about the coach trips, to all points of the compass. Then there was your youth work / interests. I well remember one hilarious, lead scramble up through the very muddy bush, at the back of the CYC Camp at Ngaruawahia, to see the glow worms. With the late *Madge LEACH in tow, in borrowed oversize gumboots, it’s a wonder there were any lights still glowing, when we got there. They sure would have known we were coming. Then there were the fund raisers, like growing spuds – stories upon stories, most with a happy ending. You earned our respect.
    Sincere condolences, Jean and family.

    Alan SHARP and family.
    [*Former Gordonton Principals wife, back on a visit. Madge & Harry LEACH ]

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