Contractor killed in tragic loader accident remembered as 'glass half-full kind of guy'

Ralph Ogg (left) with his sister Janet Mulligan and brother Jeff Ogg. Photo: Supplied
Ralph Ogg (left) with his sister Janet Mulligan and brother Jeff Ogg. Photo: Supplied
A hardworking Tai Tapu contractor who died after being trapped under a loader has been remembered as a real character and community figure.

Ralph Ogg, 71, was at his home when the tragic accident happened on April 22. He had been using the loader to shift firewood. It is believed he may have been working under the loader which had been leaking oil.

A celebration of Ralph’s life was held last Tuesday at the Tai Tapu Community Centre.

Ralph was remembered as “the unofficial mayor of Tai Tapu” and “a glass half-full kind of guy”.

He was a great Kiwi bloke, who was a dedicated grandfather and family man. He was also a storyteller whose tales got more entertaining with every rendition.

“He’s crammed 140 years into 70 years,” said Tom McKay, who paid tribute to his lifelong friend.

Hundreds of people turned out for Ralph Ogg's funeral. Photo: Supplied
Hundreds of people turned out for Ralph Ogg's funeral. Photo: Supplied
Ralph also had a highly competitive streak, which surfaced at a young age when he excelled in primary school sports at Tai Tapu and then at Lincoln High School. He took a job at the Pyne Gould Guinness office in Christchurch after leaving school.

“He didn’t last long there, inside was no good to him,” McKay said.

He came home to Tai Tapu to work on a farm and around the area. He thrived in his new outdoor roles, building tracks on hill country, shearing sheep and working for a transport company.

Ralph took over the garage at Tai Tapu and establish his successful high profile contracting business, Ralph Ogg Contracting.

He and his first wife Carolyn had three children together. Ralph became a popular character around the township, always seen out and about with his truck and his digger.

Following in the footsteps of his father Stan, who helped with projects at Rhodes Park Domain, Ralph put in hundreds of voluntary hours removing trees on a digger at the domain where the Tai Tapu Community Centre was built in recent years.

Ralph Ogg was "chuffed" when he found out his dad Stan had been recognised for his work in...
Ralph Ogg was "chuffed" when he found out his dad Stan had been recognised for his work in establishing the Rhodes Park Domain. Photo: Supplied
Family member Bob Davidson recalled community members organising for Stan’s work to be recognised with a plaque at the domain, without Ralph’s knowledge.

“He was chuffed when we showed him, he shed a tear,” Davidson said.

His commitment to work was legendary. He had high expertise when it came to operating his digger, combined with his own creative approach and always getting the job done. And he always brought a sense of humour with him.

Davidson said he learned a lot from Ralph about how to operate machinery.

He recalled one occasion when he asked Ralph to make sure he didn’t hit an underground pipe.

Ralph told him not to worry, as he had a “locator centre” on his digger. Davidson asked what that was and Ralph replied: “I just dig until I see a small jet of water shoot up.”

Work also brought its challenges, and Ralph was known for the odd mishap. One of these incidents involved a chainsaw and another an angle-grinder, resulting in trips to hospital.

Ralph had the same high-energy approach to sports and hobbies.

Ralph Ogg was called on to help with work and community projects due to his expertise in...
Ralph Ogg was called on to help with work and community projects due to his expertise in operating a digger. Photo: Supplied
He represented Ellesmere in all rugby grades, and played for the Canterbury under-18s and Canterbury Country seniors. He continued to play competitively until about 40.

One of his early passions was rallying. He competed in events throughout the South Island. 

One event at the Ashley sprints saw him display cunning tactics to allow him and his teammate to cut a corner. They had aimed their Datsun at a pre-determined spot in the distance, allowing it to become airborne then landing on the home strait.

"With this move, they picked up enough time to win the rally by a few seconds,” McKay said.

Ralph was also involved in a race horse syndicate, but later swapped his share for a pub meat tray raffle prize.

“And always claimed he was thousands of dollars up as a result,” McKay said.

He had more success with jet-boat racing, winning events throughout the South Island.

In his later years, Ralph’s passion for model yachts grew.

Jet-boating was one of Ralph Ogg’s many pastimes. Photo: Supplied
Jet-boating was one of Ralph Ogg’s many pastimes. Photo: Supplied
Stepson Will Davidson said the family was thankful for the day Ralph was introduced to the relatively sedate sport.

“This was Ralph’s safest hobby, he became obsessed.”

He was a great family man and lit up the life of Will’s mother, Carolyn Davidson, who was Ralph’s second wife.

His new family soon found out his commitment to his contracting business, supporting locals and community projects, and his sports and hobbies, was balanced with a complete lack of dedication to domestic household tasks.

“He would say: ‘Don’t get good at jobs you don’t want to do’.”

Will said his stepdad had been a great mentor as they worked in contracting together and helped him establish in his own business after selling him some equipment. Will said Ralph always had a smile on his face and he had a huge heart.  He was also a visionary when it came to running his contracting business and doing community work.

 

 

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter