‘The Wasp Man’, who died at 82 last week, retired to Arrowtown but never stopped working for the community.
Eeon Ryan first learnt to destroy wasps after seeking advice from a beekeeper in the 1960s when a daughter got stung by one.
“They damn near drove us mad on the farm in Southland. It became a hate after that,” he told Mountain Scene in 2009.
After moving to his Arrowtown crib in 1985 – bought in 1969 for $7500 – Eeon put a sign outside his house reading, ‘Wasps killed’.
His wasp extermination skills were sought throughout the Wakatipu.
Queenstown Lakes District Council, which listed him on its website, put him through a chemical-handling course.
In his biggest summer, two years ago, he destroyed 800 nests in Arrowtown.
Eeon also mowed lawns and did gardens round Arrowtown, and helped out with the town’s autumn festival.
“He worked from dawn to dusk, 100 miles an hour,” daughter Rosie Ryan says.
He picked up a QLDC ‘heart of the district’ award and an autumn festival ‘unsung hero’ award.
Local museum director Dave Clarke says he was “as fit as a flea – nobody could believe he was 82”.
Eeon would even crochet blankets for the Salvation Army from old woollen jerseys.
A keen golfer, he’d crochet a tag to stick on his golf tee so he didn’t lose it, Clarke recalls.
“He’d be scrambling down banks looking for the little bit of coloured thread on the end of the tee.”
Eeon is survived by his wife Maggie, six children, 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
His funeral was held yesterday.