Farewell to a man of principles

Bill Waring passed away recently. Many in the district will know his name – he spent his life working in the meat industry – as did his father and grandfather before him.  He was a man of principles, says Waikato Times’ obituary writer Roy Burke.

Bill WaringBILL WARING was a doyen of Waikato meat retailers. He was a businessman and butcher, the son of a butcher, and the grandson of a butcher.

As a lad of 8 in school holidays he helped deliver meat to farms in the Taupiri district from the back of a oneton truck. Later he learned how to judge and buy stock for slaughter. He had a role in developing the meat retail industry from sawdust-on-the-shop-floor basics to the very front edge of modern hygiene.

Bill had towering intelligence (recognised by family and friends) and in his 70s, after retirement, wife Audrey and daughter Marilyn bought him a computer and urged him to a university education (World War II had abridged his formal education at age 15). He accepted the challenge and emerged with a BA in history in 2000 and an honours degree in sports and leisure in 2006.

Bill has left us. He was taken by cancer on Wednesday September 17 after a year’s battle. He was 89 and is survived by Audrey, daughter Marilyn, son Gavin, and three grandchildren.

In later years he became a prolific writer, recording an in-depth personal history interweaving the history of the Waikato retail meat industry. It is being published in chapters by the Gordontonbased digital community newspaper Number 8 Network.

Bill and Audrey’s daughter Marilyn, Professor of Public Policy at AUT University and an international figure in the women’s rights debate, is a former National Member of Parliament. She declined to support Prime Minister Rob Muldoon on an issue of principle in 1984, triggering a snap election that toppled the government. Firm regard for principle is in the Waring genes; in his writings Bill recalled his father in depression years prohibiting him from mowing the home lawns. ‘‘You have a job and if you mow the lawn it means (others) are denied this work. Everyone has the right to work.’’

Australia-based Gavin heads a major consulting firm specialising in business rescue and recovery

Bill was born in Hamilton on August 6, 1925, the only child of Lou and ‘‘Willie’’ Waring. Willie was a returned man, one of the second wave ashore at Gallipoli and a survivor of three years in France. Post-war he bought his father’s Taupiri butchery, slaughterhouse and adjoining paddocks with a Soldiers Settlement Scheme loan.

Bill attended Taupiri Primary School. Secondary education was at King’s College, Auckland. Rugby, athletics, tennis and golf were his recreations till serious pelvic fractures ruled out contact sports. World War II and staff shortages brought him back to the butchery at 15.

He had a ‘‘look and learn’’ education in the trade.

Bill learned every facet of butchery from judging stock to knifing finest fillet. He learned that the white of a beast’s eye indicated the colour of fat after slaughter. He learned that movement of a flank pointed to condition.

The RNZAF called him up towards the end of the war and he served nine months in New Zealand before discharge. The business expanded – Huntly, Rotowaro, Chartwell, Morrinsville, Matamata, Hamilton central. At peak there were six shops and 11 retailing concessions.

Audrey Rumney, was prime on his scene in the late 1940s. They married in 1949. There were 300 at the wedding dance.

The Warings became enthusiastic skiers and Ruapehu was one of their favourite places in winter.

Lifelong, Bill was a philosopher, strongly influenced by a poem given to him as a youngster by his mother. Rudyard Kipling’s If was his guide. If you don’t know it, get it. Read it. It’s the key to Bill.

Thanks to Roy for allowing Number 8 Network to publish this piece from the Waikato Times, and for introducing us to Bill himself, in the first place.  N8N is publishing Bill’s memoirs in full, click here for the first in the series.

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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.

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