Loss of a true local

Eon Lewis, who died at 89 last month, was that rare Queenstowner — a lifelong local.

In fact, through his mother, Barbara (nee Dagg), he was a fifth-generation local.

Barbara, who ran Mrs Lewis’ grocery store at the bottom of what’s now The Mall and was also a caterer on tourist steamer TSS Earnslaw, died in 2012 at the age of 100.

Her husband, Les, who died in 1991, was for 36 years the Earnslaw’s carpenter.

Eon would often accompany him on weekends and school holidays, and they would repair wharves and build goods sheds around Lake Whakatipu’s farms.

When Eon was 14, he and his father built a 15-foot motorboat, Barbara — many trips were recorded, with the boat’s logs recording the weather, destination and catch.

Eon went to Southland Tech in Invercargill, and when he returned he gained a building apprenticeship with Ron Inder.

One windy day, while he was building up Queenstown Hill, he watched to his dismay the Earnslaw plough through Barbara, chopping her in half and sinking her.

In his youth, Eon, who stood out for his height, represented the South Island in basketball and also played rugby into his late 30s.

He met Frances Dennison when she was doing the Arrowtown high school bus run — it was love at first sight, and when they started courting, he’d often follow the bus on his pushbike and take her to movies at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall.

They married in 1957 and had two children, Perth-based Christie and Queenstown-based Helen.

Helen says Eon was a very keen mountaineer and photographer, a life member of the Southern Lakes Deerstalkers Association and was involved with Search & Rescue.

He was happy and at peace exploring his corner of paradise, she adds.

‘‘His idea of a good overseas holiday was Stewart Island.’’

Frances predeceased Eon by 10 years.

Eon’s ashes will be spread on top of Queenstown’s Bowen Peak where Frances’ ashes are.

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