Shock at death of Richard Walls

Richard Walls Dunedin politicians and community figures were in shock last night after hearing former Dunedin mayor Richard Walls (74) had died suddenly at his home yesterday.

Friends and colleagues said he was the man who knew more about Dunedin politics and the city's history than any other.

Mr Walls had been a feature of Dunedin's political life since being elected to the St Kilda borough council in 1962 and only retired in 2010 when he lost his seat in the local body elections.

He was mayor from 1989 until 1995 and was a National Party member of Parliament for Dunedin North from 1975 to 1978.

Mr Walls was chairman of directors at Dunedin International Airport Limited and a justice of the peace. He was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order (QSO) for public service in 1996.

He was a member of many community, sports and arts organisations over the years including the Otago Magic Circle, which he helped initiate.

Dunedin International Airport chief executive John McCall last night said from Wellington he had last seen Mr Walls at a board meeting on Thursday so the news came as a shock.

"It is extremely sad; something quite difficult for us to come to terms with."

Mr McCall said Mr Walls had been a part of his working life for 23 years and he had been absolutely committed to the airport as he had been to the city.

Former mayor Peter Chin said during his 12 years on the council no-one had a greater knowledge than Mr Walls of the history of the city, in particular its political history.

"He served the city tremendously well, not only on council but as chairman of Dunedin International Airport."

With Mr Walls' death, Dunedin had lost a "very important citizen" who had served the city in many ways including leading the charge to buy the Regent Theatre, he said.

"He was passionate about the city, he knew about the city, knew everyone and everyone knew him, it seemed."

Cr Neil Collins said Mr Walls' death had come as a "great shock" and his colleagues on the council and in broadcasting would "miss him terribly".

Mr Walls is survived by his wife June and three children.

An obituary will follow.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

 

 

RIP Richard

I couldn't stand his politics, but Richard was always kind, courteous and helpful. He was fiercely loyal to Dunedin.

Richard Walls

Richard Walls was at the other end of the political spectrum to me. Yet, he always replied to my emails, courteously stating his point of view. [Abridged]

He will be missed

I am saddened by the sudden loss of Richard. He leaves a gap which won't be filled by any of his contemporaries.

Richard Walls

I opposed Richard Walls' stand  on almost everything.  But for all that I felt quite a lot of admiration for the way he engaged vigorously in public debate both here and in various blogs and Facebook groups.  The man had guts.  I thought he was often wrong but that's not the point, he was the one who had the courage to engage with his opponents.

I'd say Rest in Peace Richard Walls, but considering his nature it might be more appropriate to wish him restlessness and good company to debate with.

[Abirdged]

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