It is with great sadness we report the passing of Gary Leonard Wilks. The club extends condolences to Gary’s wife Glenyss and his extended family.
Gary was a real club stalwart at Tukapa who passed away last week at the age of 73 having succumbed after a relapse in his long battle with cancer.
Gary was a Westown boy who joined Tukapa morning grades as a midget in the mid-1950’s, carried on every season in the juniors until required to play for Devon and then at NPBHS before returning to the Blue and Whites on leaving school at 15 years of age to begin work at the Post and Telegraph Department as a trainee technician.
He progressed through the Under 17s, Under 19s and Colts before winning two Taranaki championship titles, firstly in 1969 in what was known as the Junior Open grade, which today is the level equivalent to the Senior B’s. Team-mates of Gary in that successful Junior side included such well-known Tukapas as Kevin Hickland, Anton Mora, Bob Old and Kevin Nielsen.
Later Gary moved into playing for the Senior 4ths alongside the likes of Mick Gilbert, Ian Morris, Rusty Gilbert and Barry Marsh. In 1973 this team won the Taranaki Senior 4ths Championship with Kevin Curd as captain and Brian Hunger as coach.
Having finished his rugby playing career in the 1970s, Gary took up long distance running being a foundation member of the NP Joggers and Walkers Club. He ran numerous marathons and half marathons during his 40 plus years with the Joggers Club, culminating in him completing the annual Coast to Coast event as part of a two-man team.
However, Gary’s connection to Tukapa remained strong throughout his whole adult life with his major contribution after he retired from playing being the enormous amount of voluntary work he did off the field. He always showed up to help at every club working bee as well as doing two stints on the Executive Committee in the early 1990s and again 20 years later around his time as Club President in 2007-08.
More recently, Gary has been a loyal and passionate supporter of the Senior A’s in particular. He would never miss a home game and was always one of the first to help out at Sanders Park by bringing in the flags and goalpost pads, emptying rubbish tins and making himself useful in general. Gary finished his working life as an electrician and, as the go-to Club guy for electrical work, Gary contributed a huge number of unpaid hours installing and maintaining everything electrical at Tukapa for over 40 years.
All of us regulars at Tukapa will greatly miss Wilksie, who genuinely was a “real good bugger” and a life-long true blue Tukapa man. For those interested, you can view a video of Gary’s funeral service on his tribute page at: www.eagars.co.nz/gary