If Norman was going to try and kill the President, he doubted he’d take an old labrador with him’

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Queenstowner Patricia Richan beams with pride as she remembers the man she was married to for 62 years.

Her husband Norman died at Windsor Park Rest Home in Gore on January 22, aged 87.

Patricia, 88, still smiles at the time he made newspaper headlines by unwittingly sparking a major security alert during a visit to the resort in September 1999 by Bill Clinton, then President of the United States.

Police swooped on the couple’s home at Speargrass Flat Road near Lake Hayes, after a man was spotted carrying a firearm.

It was no sniper – it was Norman embarking on his daily rabbit shoot on his property.

“Police came to the door demanding to know where he was and they had a helicopter flying above the house,” recalls Patricia.

“Norman had been out hunting with his dog and he told the officers that if he was going to try and kill the President, he doubted he’d take an old labrador with him.”

The couple wed in Dunedin in 1946 and moved to Queenstown almost 30 years ago after Norman retired from his job as curator of the city’s Botanic Gardens, where he’d worked for 42 years.

He was well known to locals for his keen sense of humour and liked to visit the New Orleans Hotel in Arrowtown for a drink and a chat with friends.

Norman served as a private in the army for five years during World War II and was stationed in Egypt and Italy.
“He always said he ‘never killed any bugger’ because he’d always shoot to the side,” says Patricia.

“When he was in Italy, he and his comrades would play cards with the German soldiers at night then fight them in the morning.”

Norman outlived two of the couple’s five children and was a loved granddad of 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

His life was celebrated at a private family service in the garden of his home.