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Des Schubert 1921-2001

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Desmond Byron Schubert 1921 – 22 April 2002


Des (behind) with fellow Spiv, Jim Paterson, and friend

Desmond Byron Schubert died on 22 April 2001 aged 80 years. His daughter Anna described him at his funeral as a ‘party boy’, ‘always the centre of fun’, a man whose life was split into two halves – the first forty years were the Piha, rugby, party years, and the second 40 revolved around family, who in turn had to fit around Des’s golf and deep sea fishing. The theme song at Des’s funeral was I did it my way.

The Grafton Rugby Club was the common theme for many of the elite sportsmen that came out to Piha in the 1930s. At Grafton, Des and his brother Lindsay were mates with Tom Pearce, as well as the Hall brothers, friendships that were forged for life.

Des joined the Piha Surf Club in 1939 and got his surf medallion in 1949. In between Des served in 40 Squadron, as a flight engineer on transport between Hobsonville and Guadacanal. He was a successful businessman, managing to retire at the enviable age of 39.

He built a bach in Rayner Road in the 1950s , a modernist Bill Haresnape design, possibly the first architect-designed bach in Piha and certainly the first pole house. The bach, still standing, was legendary as the place to go for a good time.

Des was a founder of the iconoclastic Spivs and Drones Club, with headquarters in the army tent pitched alongside Mrs Ketterer’s house where Des stayed when he first came to Piha. It was apparently Des who was originally given the S&D name by my father, Tom Pearce. Des thought it a huge joke and the club was born.

Despite their love of Piha, Des and Lin always spent three weeks at Christmas at Mt Maunganui, where they enjoyed a change of scenery and beach culture. It was here that Des was involved in one of New Zealand’s most dreadful boating tragedies. On 28 December 1950, coming back from Mayor Island, the boat Ranui struck the rocks at Mt Maunganui in huge surf. Des was on the reel when they pulled in nine bodies. He was hospitalised with injuries from being repeatedly bashed on the rocks.

Des sold his bach just before his marriage, but he never lost his love of Piha. He was honoured to achieve a 50-year service award from the Piha Surf Club, and proud when his daughter Anna became club captain in 2000, Piha’s first woman club captain.

He is survived by his wife Flo, two sons and three daughters.


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