Select Page

John Lithgow

John was my friend, coffee drinking companion, walking companion, occasional cycling companion, but most of all he was just a good person.
We met through cycling at the Manawatu Masters and then Bike Manawatu Sunday rides. We lived close by each other so we would often pass each other on the way to the rides. He seemed to be a competent rider and willing to help others. He didn’t hide at the back of the bunch. Then I became aware of his ability – trying to complete 70 100km rides in the year before he turned 70 (and succeeding), 2 laps around Taupo. Most of you will know John and his cycling ability so I don’t intend to cover that part of his life. He enjoyed cycling but it wasn’t the main aspect of his life.
John had a medical incident whilst riding on the cycleway out to Linton which resulted in him getting a Pacemaker fitted. This was about a year after I had an ICD fitted following a Cardiac Arrest. We seemed to form a bond discussing our experiences with our devices and how they affected us. John complained about a degree of uncomfortableness with his device but was interested in its workings and was very proud when he found out that it was only being required to work for a small percentage of the time.
John was an early bird. When he got his dog Merlot they would be out walking before dawn and would often walk past the Bees Knees Café where I was enjoying a post ride coffee. Before long I convinced him to stop and have a coffee which then turned into a routine. We would meet, enjoy a coffee, compare photos of the sunrise and solve some of the world’s problems. As Merlot was with John we would sit outside the café; we were perfectly positioned to score the parking of anyone daring to park in front of us. He was a hard marker, and it is fair to say that not many were able to get full marks. Quite a few didn’t even make it into the positive side of the ledger. Merlot eventually got his own chair at the café where he could sit and look inside to ensure that he was going to get a treat. John was aware enough to bring a towel so that Merlot wouldn’t be sitting directly on the chair.
I had started walking regularly after my CA and would often meet him and Merlot wandering the streets or the Bridle Track on the way to coffee. John was quite a conversationalist and many times I would be late getting home in time to go to work. My wife said she knew when I was about to get home as she could hear John talking as we neared my house.
John seemed to know lots of people. I first thought it was because he had lived in Palmy for so long, but then I saw how friendly he was, and the interest he took in other people. When we were out walking, we would be regularly stopping and talking to other people, other dog walkers, little old ladies pushing walkers, other early morning exercisers. John could tell you many things about each of these people. It became obvious that John just liked people and took genuine interest in them. After my ICD activated and I didn’t appear on Strava for a few days John noticed and came around to our house wanting to know if I was ok. He would comment on my activities and would interact with his Strava followers around the world.
John was a family man and was extremely proud of each of his children and would regularly keep me up to date with what each was doing. Like them I am going to miss him.
RIP John