Farewell to a friend

Humour, sadness and final farewell at cartoonist Murray Ball’s funeral yesterday.

Humour, sadness and final farewell at cartoonist Murray Ball’s funeral yesterday.

THE flat-hatted figure of Footrot Flats character, Wal accompanied by Dog, as the duo disappear over the brow of a hill was a fitting image that matched the humour, sadness and final farewell at cartoonist Murray Ball’s funeral yesterday.

The cartoon was the last in a series of pictures from Mr Ball’s full life screened at the service. Mr Ball died, aged 78, surrounded by family and friends at his Gisborne home on Sunday. He had lived with the neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer’s for the past eight years.

The family, wider community in New Zealand and abroad were hopeful Ball’s death was a long way off, said celebrant Norman Maclean.

But this was not to be.

“He is released from so much that hampered and confined him for so long, preventing him from being the man we knew so well.”

For Mr Ball, the sun rose and set on his wife Pam.

She was a powerful and marvellous partner and Mason, Gareth and Tanya (their children) and seven grandchildren were privileged to have had a husband, father and grandfather of such calibre, said Mr Maclean.

He had a deep love of family, of home and of country as well as a lifelong love of nature, and a love of freedom and justice that saw him embrace humanitarian causes. These spanned from South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggles to his desire to see a more equitable society in this country.

“He was highly competitive, which meant, in an argument, one felt Murray wasn’t so much interested in arriving at a likely answer as simply winning the contest.

“If that involved shifting the goal-posts a little, so be it.”

Mayoral tribute

Mayor Meng Foon said Murray was a legend who lived on in his work.

“I thank you for your marvellousness, from our community.”

Mr Ball’s daughter Tanya Fowell thanked health workers involved in caring for Ball on his difficult journey.

“Without these people helping, Dad would not have been able to stay at home.”

She thanked her mother Pam.

“You have been Dad’s rock, best friend and fierce protector of dad’s privacy.”

Mrs Fowell said her father had strong beliefs and principles.

“We soon learned to do what we were told. Dad was hardworking and up before anyone. That was his favourite part of the day. He stuck to a strict daily schedule and I always knew where he was at any time.”

He sometimes played the boogeyman for his children.

“He would dress in a sheet a jump out and scare the shit out of us. He would walk around in his undies, freely, and was known to pour a bucket of water over his head in the courtyard.”

He did not show much emotion, but the one time she saw her father upset was when the cat Horse died.

“Horse was a real cat. He brought eels from the creek across the road. He was awesome.”

Like a father

Her husband James Fowell said Mr Ball had been like a father to him.

Mr Ball believed there was a right way and a wrong way of doing thing but Mr Fowell enjoyed the structure that brought to his life.

Eldest son Mason said even though his father was not comfortable with crowds, he would have appreciated the large crowd at the service.

Towards the end of his life, his father would raise one finger and would draw on the tray in front of him, said Mason.

In recent years, he enjoyed holding his hand.

“He would reach up one finger and touch my nose.”

Mr Ball’s youngest son, Gareth, said since his father had been ill he had spent much time with him and his work. Archiving his work had been therapeutic for him.

Mr Ball’s wife Pam said her children had been amazing support but her husband’s journey through illness had been hard.

“He has not talked for the past two years. I found that hard. It is time to rest now Murray. You have given us all wonderful lives. We miss you. We are so lucky to have had you in our lives. Rest now darling.”

THE flat-hatted figure of Footrot Flats character, Wal accompanied by Dog, as the duo disappear over the brow of a hill was a fitting image that matched the humour, sadness and final farewell at cartoonist Murray Ball’s funeral yesterday.

The cartoon was the last in a series of pictures from Mr Ball’s full life screened at the service. Mr Ball died, aged 78, surrounded by family and friends at his Gisborne home on Sunday. He had lived with the neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer’s for the past eight years.

The family, wider community in New Zealand and abroad were hopeful Ball’s death was a long way off, said celebrant Norman Maclean.

But this was not to be.

“He is released from so much that hampered and confined him for so long, preventing him from being the man we knew so well.”

For Mr Ball, the sun rose and set on his wife Pam.

She was a powerful and marvellous partner and Mason, Gareth and Tanya (their children) and seven grandchildren were privileged to have had a husband, father and grandfather of such calibre, said Mr Maclean.

He had a deep love of family, of home and of country as well as a lifelong love of nature, and a love of freedom and justice that saw him embrace humanitarian causes. These spanned from South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggles to his desire to see a more equitable society in this country.

“He was highly competitive, which meant, in an argument, one felt Murray wasn’t so much interested in arriving at a likely answer as simply winning the contest.

“If that involved shifting the goal-posts a little, so be it.”

Mayoral tribute

Mayor Meng Foon said Murray was a legend who lived on in his work.

“I thank you for your marvellousness, from our community.”

Mr Ball’s daughter Tanya Fowell thanked health workers involved in caring for Ball on his difficult journey.

“Without these people helping, Dad would not have been able to stay at home.”

She thanked her mother Pam.

“You have been Dad’s rock, best friend and fierce protector of dad’s privacy.”

Mrs Fowell said her father had strong beliefs and principles.

“We soon learned to do what we were told. Dad was hardworking and up before anyone. That was his favourite part of the day. He stuck to a strict daily schedule and I always knew where he was at any time.”

He sometimes played the boogeyman for his children.

“He would dress in a sheet a jump out and scare the shit out of us. He would walk around in his undies, freely, and was known to pour a bucket of water over his head in the courtyard.”

He did not show much emotion, but the one time she saw her father upset was when the cat Horse died.

“Horse was a real cat. He brought eels from the creek across the road. He was awesome.”

Like a father

Her husband James Fowell said Mr Ball had been like a father to him.

Mr Ball believed there was a right way and a wrong way of doing thing but Mr Fowell enjoyed the structure that brought to his life.

Eldest son Mason said even though his father was not comfortable with crowds, he would have appreciated the large crowd at the service.

Towards the end of his life, his father would raise one finger and would draw on the tray in front of him, said Mason.

In recent years, he enjoyed holding his hand.

“He would reach up one finger and touch my nose.”

Mr Ball’s youngest son, Gareth, said since his father had been ill he had spent much time with him and his work. Archiving his work had been therapeutic for him.

Mr Ball’s wife Pam said her children had been amazing support but her husband’s journey through illness had been hard.

“He has not talked for the past two years. I found that hard. It is time to rest now Murray. You have given us all wonderful lives. We miss you. We are so lucky to have had you in our lives. Rest now darling.”

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