August 29, 2015

Peter Smythe – four wheel driving loses one of the good guys

Pete Smythe and Hang Over, back in the day at an NZFWA
jamboree. Photographed by another mate, Peter Vahry.
It came as a shock today to learn that one of the nicest and most knowledgeable people I've had the privilege to know died aged 74 earlier in the week, in Auckland Hospital, after a bout of severe pneumonia coupled with heart failure. "Although the medical folk tried everything they possibly could, he suddenly was no longer able to fight it (along with kidney failure) and he quietly and peacefully slipped away, surrounded by family," said his wife, Robin. He died on their 48th wedding anniversary.

Another of Pete's great loves was his cream coloured 1983 3.5 litre Range Rover two-door which, thanks to some rearrangement and substitution, bore the name HANG OVER across the front of its bonnet. The last time he spoke to me of the Rangie, he said, "I still have HO but she must think she is diesel powered now, she rattles that much. But she does keep going." As did Peter, whose health was not always the best, but who kept on bouncing back in fine fettle, like he'd just had a good lube and oil change, which is why we thought he'd also bounce back from this last illness.

One of his great passions was packing his gear into HANG OVER and taking off to the South Island with a few mates to enjoy off roading, fellowship and visiting historical sites. It became almost an annual affair. I just about managed to join one of those trips, but it fell through and now I'm sorry that it will never be. However, over the 20 years I knew Pete, I joined him on many other closer-to-home off-road adventures where his wit, driving skills and depth of knowledge on so many subjects raised the outings to another level. A skilled and experienced civil engineer, he always knew the best, most effective and usually quickest way to recover a vehicle from any situation, a skill I had to call on more than once.

Robin was so right in a message sent to old friends and colleagues when she said, "in spite of all of his medical obstacles he thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of life, and was such good company."

I kept in touch with Pete somewhat sporadically over the years; a coffee here, an email there, but it never seemed to matter because he was one of those people who, it seemed, would always be there with another story, another amusing internet find to share and another tale of something that had happened to Hang Over. But now he isn't, and that's pretty darned sad. 
Phil Hanson

  • SMYTHE, Peter John. 2 June 1941 – 25 August 2015. The most incredible and dearly loved husband of Robin, wonderful, loved and informative dad of Abi and Jamie. Much loved and loving dad-in-law of Shane and Maria and very proud and loved pop of Xavier and Rhiannon. Our warrior now at peace. A Service for Peter will be held at the All Saints Chapel, Purewa, 100 St Johns Road Meadowbank, on Tuesday 1st September at 10.30am.

1 comment:

  1. Peter was a great guy; my sympathies to his family.