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OBITUARY

DEATH OF MR. ROBERT FLETCHER, M.P.

Widespread and! genuine regret will be felt at the news of the death of Mr. Robert Fletcher, M.P. for Wellington Central. Mr. Fletcher had been in iJoor health for over a year, and of late his condition had become so low that it was generally recognised he could not much longer survive. He passed away, abouti 8 o'clock this morning.

The death of Mr. Fletcher at a-cora-. paratively early age removes from the public life of Wellington, and, indeed, of New Zealand, one who had 1 played an active part on the Dominion stage for close on forty years. His career was typical of his day and generation; Horn and educated at St. Andrew, Scotland, he entered the service of the Midland Railway Company for a brief period-, and then followed the call of jthe sea, serving his time with the Dundee Shipping Line of sailers. He arrived at Wellington in 1883, and after sailing the New. Zealand coast for some time, he "came ashore" and worked for the Wellington Harbour Board, first as a pilot and then on the wharves. Later he entered the service of Messrs. Joseph Nathan and. to., and, later still commenced business, as,a. carrier. „

His first entry into' public" life was made in 1906, when he stood Be the popular ca-ndidate for--the'Wellington-Harbour Board,.and was elected-M the head of the poll.to a. seat which he held till the day of. his 'death. It is his work in connection with the Wellington Harbour Board that constitutes' the greatest monument to his reputation,as a public man. ■ With a thorough grip of what he regarded as the essential requirements of the waterfront,, from the point of view both of the men and the board, he quickly "ranged" himself as the exponent of a sane, level-headed, but always progressive policy. In and out of the board his opponents quickly realised that Mr. Fletcher knew what he was talking about, that he fully realised what he wanted, and in the pursuit of that end his energy and native ability \ quickly marked him ,out as one of the most prominent members of one of the biggest commercial concerns in New Zealand. It was no surprise therefore, when in 1910 he was elected to the responsible position of Chairman—a ■ position which he held until the end of 1915, when, after five years''. tenure of office, he decided not to seek re-election. During his connection with the board he assisted in carrying out most of the modem improvements now in operation on the wharves, and his services W the employees in regard to superannuation and yearly holidays will not soon be forgotten. As a. chairman 1 he was clear-minded, practical, firm, and fair, and he emerged from a period of five years' arduous service with an enviable reputation for plain, straightforward dealing and a sincere desire to watch over the interests of the various sections of the community connected with the work of the board.

From 1907 to 1915, Mr. Fletcher was also a member of the Wellington City Council, on which he did excellent service as Chairman of the Markets Committee, while his general sanity of outlook and directness of speech marked hira out as an efficient and' painstaking councillor, one whose criticism was always to the point and to be regarded with a full measure of respect. Not satisfied with Harbour Board honours and civic position, the late Mr. Fletcher in 1911 essayed the task of beating Mr. F. M. B. Fisher for the Wellington Central seat. A party man by instinct, he stood as a Liberal. He was beaten, but at the General Election of 1914 he had the satisfaction of scoring a momentous victory over Mr. Fisher (then the Minister of Marine) by a majority of over 2000. Although Mr. Fletcher never made any great impression on PaTh'ament, he demonstrated always the fact that he knew what h« was talking about, that he was- there to talk commonsense and not "clap-trap, 1' and.he' was respected' and liked to the full by members on both sides of the House. But for failing health he might easily have made a far greater name for himself. In civil life, the late Mr. Fletcher was a prominent Mason, having been connected with the Order for about tweiity five years. He was initiated in Lodge St. Andrew, Wellington, and was Master of that lodge on three occasions and sccretarv for several years. He held many offices in the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, including those of Grand Warden, Provincial Grand Master, and De puty Grand Master—the second h'>hest office in the Craft. He was also Royal Arch Mason, and had occupied the principal chair in that branch. He was a member of the Eighteenth Degree, and of the -Wellington City Lod^e of Research. He also took a great and practical interest in friendly society matter.*. He was a member of the Pacific Lodge, 0.A.0.D., and for many years rendered valuable service as Grand Lodge Treasurer. It is interesting to note that the lato Mr. Fletcher, who was 52 yearn of age, went to school with a. boy who is now Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Hiig. He leaves a widow, but no family. ■ The flags at the Town Hall, the Harbour Board, Parliament Buildings, and various shipping offices were flo'Jn at half-mast to-day as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19180904.2.36

Bibliographic details

OBITUARY, Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 57, 4 September 1918

Word Count
904

OBITUARY Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 57, 4 September 1918

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