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  • Writer's pictureBurnside Park Tennis

Gordon Armstrong Burnside Park (Fendalton) Tennis Club Life Member

Gordon passed away at the Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village in Nelson on 31st January in his 90th year. He was a prominent Committee member of the then Fendalton Tennis Club in Memorial Avenue from the mid nineteen sixties, when there was a serious loss of Club members, until the early seventies. During that time Gordon and Ossie Waters were largely responsible for the management and maintenance of the Club when membership income was barely sufficient to maintain the deteriorating facilities and at one stage it was questionable whether or not the Club would survive. Gordon was a Club Member for five decades and with his wife Marie, were a popular couple who made longstanding friendships with a number of Burnside Park members. They were active members of the Canterbury Veterans Tennis Assn. for a period and they loved their tennis.

Gordon was brought up in Runanga a short distance north of Greymouth, and started as an apprentice engineer with the Ministry of Works, later working at the Strongman coal mine. He also spent time helping at the Armstrongs family's nearby Ten Mile Creek mine. When this was taken over by the Government he worked with his father in a number of leased hotels in Greymouth, Timaru, Cambridge and Hastings. After marrying Marie and settling in Christchurch Gordon worked as a Warden rising to Senior Sergeant for the Security Service at the Harewood Airport where he became friendly with a number of Members of Parliament.

During his West Coast years he was a top racing cyclist often spending weekends travelling by train to compete in Christchurch. In 1957 he represented NZ at English Park against World Sprint Champion Reg Harris and South Australian Champion Colin Shaw. He won a number of Sprint trophies and was also a scratch rider in the Timaru to Christchurch Road Races. Gordon was a keen player and supporter of the Runanga Rugby League Club. While living in Christchurch much of his spare time, apart from tennis, was spent funding and assisting with the building of houses with a partner Reg. O’Connor and for a period he owned a share in the Russley Hotel (now demolished) in Roydvale Avenue.

Gordon leaves his wife Maries, two married children John and Christine and their children, living in Nelson. He was a man of great integrity and had a wonderful fund of humorous stories. His pencil drawings of coal mines, houses and huts he stayed in, were remarkably good. He accumulated a substantial library mainly about coal mining and West Coast history. He was a Justice of the Peace for twenty five years. Gordons ashes are to be scattered on the beach at Rapahoe.

Brian Harris

25 Feb 2020.

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