Ashburton District Councilor Roger Letham died Saturday at Ashburton Hospital after being hospitalized a week earlier after suffering from respiratory illness.
The 78-year-old is serving his second term on the city council, and Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown expressed his sadness at his sudden loss.
Mr. Brown said Mr. Letham was a key figure in the community and a strong and dedicated councilor.
“He’s lived in the area his whole life, was a famous farmer, and was a local real estate agent before joining the local council,” Brown said.
“Roger was a wise and experienced Council President, a respected colleague and friend.”
Former four-term trustee Stuart Wilson has known Timal Boys alum Letham since they were at Young Farmers together 50 years ago.
Wilson also played the role of the estate, whom Letham was “someone I could trust implicitly.”
Before Letham ran for council, Wilson said he would frequently discuss district and council decisions.
As a Western Ward Councilor, he also sat on the Methven Community Board, where Board Chairman Kelvin Holmes said Letham was “an excellent community-minded person”.
Letham was a real estate agent with Property Brokers selling rural properties for 35 years until he stepped down in 2021.
A former pilot, he had a keen interest in aviation and used that knowledge as a member of the Ashburton Airport Authority.
He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Ashburton and the MSA Men’s Choir.
Letham’s family has been farming in the area for over 100 years, and he worked on a farm that his parents, Selwyn and Ida, purchased in 1951.
Selwyn was a long-serving member of the Ashburton County Council before the merger of the county and borough councils, but Brown said, “Roger was proud to serve his community as his father did.” said.
“Roger is a good person and I wanted to give something back to the community that has served him well, so I submitted his name to the council.
“Our thoughts are with his wife Yvonne and his immediate family at this time.”
A service celebrating Letham’s life will be held on Thursday at 2:00 pm at the Ashburton Event Center.
Letham’s death necessitates a by-election in the Western District, details of which will be confirmed in the new year.
In recent elections, Letham successfully bid for re-election, as did Deputy Mayor Liz McMillan, with Dame Linda Topp being the only other candidate.
https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/ashburton-councillor-mourned-community-man Ashburton City Councilman commemorated as ‘community man’