Lifelong Queenstowner Chris McGregor, who died suddenly in Japan last week, is being hailed as a good-hearted, larger-than-life character.
An experienced black-belt karate instructor, the 51-year-old was accompanying several students to an international training camp when he suffered a heart attack.
Local Samurai Karate club president Russell Mawhinney says his death is “devastating for the whole sport”.
“Chris and [fellow instructor] Pat Quaid are the reasons why Samurai Karate has had so much success in Queenstown and Central Otago.
“Sensei Chris has been a mentor and friend for hundreds of young people and their parents through karate.”
Mawhinney says Mc-Gregor – a Shidoin Yodan (teacher’s grade fourth Dan) – was a massive figure in his own son Seth’s life for a decade.
“You’ll hear that story over and over again from others too”.
“Chris was the sort of tough-love trainer. He cared for all these kids so much, it must be really tough for those over in Japan.
“He was a larger-than-life character and you couldn’t help but like him.”
McGregor’s survived by his wife Debbie, children Danielle and Rhys, grandchildren Kace and Lachie, parents Shirley and Ray and sister Lara.
“He was a great family man, loved his kids, loved being a grandfather,” lifelong local friend Peter Reinke says.
“He was an honest, straight-up person who’d give you the shirt off his back.”
He had just two emp-loyers throughout his working life, Reinke says.
He initially operated machinery for his late uncle, contractor Darrell Mc-Gregor.
Then for about the past 20 years he worked for Queenstown transport operator Sir John Davies, latterly as local operations manager for refuse company AllWaste. Davies says he’ll be missed by everyone.
“He was a very, very good manager, he cared about his staff.
“It’s a very, very sad day that it happened and at such a young age when he was enjoying life.”
Funeral arrangements are still being finalised.