A beautiful tribute was held at the club meeting on September 21, 2021, to allow members to pay their respects to long serving member Warren Warburton (1921-2021). 

Led by President Lisa the tribute covered his love of Rotary, his penchant for routine and ensuring all Presidents were up to scratch. Members also shared personal stories about Warren, from his love of whisky, recounting how time is precious to all of us, his wars years and the wonderful wit he had and the special way he had to make people feel welcomed.

Warren had a special seat at Rotary, and for the tribute his seat was reserved by a display of poppies at the table to honour him.  

A prayer was held by Peter Dunn to close the tribute. 

One of the fitting statements in the tribute was the following quote: 

To be born a gentleman is an accident; to die a gentleman is an achievement.

If you missed the story about how Warren joined Rotary we have included it again for members.

Caption: Writer Amy Johnstone interviews Warren Warburton and Flemming Jensen in March 2019.  The interviews were undertaken as background for the commemorative booklet being worked on for the 100th Anniversary of the Club in 2024.

Being asked to join Rotary was a dream come true for Warren Warburton.

The Invercargill Rotarian, who has been a member of the organisation since May 19, 1970, was drawn to Rotary because he liked the principle of it being a service club.

He remembers seeing tobacconist Jimmy Mason walking around town doing chores while wearing his Rotary badge.

“That started my interest in Rotary, and I’d seen a few other local fullas kicking round with a badge.

“I thought I’d like to join Rotary - I like the ideals of service to the Rotary clubs.”

To his surprise a year or two later, Warren found out some Rotary members had their eyes on him as well.

“I was at work and one of the girls said there’s a chap out here who wants to see you.”

He went out to find Jimmy Mason in the store, who asked if he could talk to Warren for a while.

“I took him into the ring parlour, and he popped the question.”

Warren talked over the prospect of joining the club with his wife Freda, before making a decision.

“I decided I would join because it was one of my dreams, that eventually I’d be nominated for Rotary.”

When he joined the club, Warren said it was like entering a whole new world. For the first year or two, he felt like he was a bit of his league.

“I hadn’t been used to anything like that. Meetings were so prim and proper.

“You daren’t take your tie or jacket off on a hot day without getting permission. Everything had to be done right.”

Meetings were held at lunchtime on Tuesdays at Invercargill venue Elmwood Garden, on Dee St, before moving to the Victoria Rooms at the Civic Theatre.

Warren said although meetings were very “prim and proper”, he really liked that everyone was referred to by their first names – even if it did take a bit of getting used to.

“When you come up against the mayor, or a doctor or high-profile businessman it’s a bit hard to do when you first sit with them,” he laughed.

“I felt as if I was right out of my league.”

However, the experience did help broaden his views.

“I dreaded having to get up and talk in those days, I don’t worry about it at all now.

“It gives you that confidence.”

Warren’s initial classification was a watchmaker, because at the time he joined the club Willis Brown had the jeweller classification.

“Originally it was only one person per classification.”

However, when Willis left the club Warren was able to change to jeweller.

One of the big initiatives he saw during his time in the club was opening Rotary to female members.

However, he remembers this did cause a bit of division when the initial idea was proposed. While Warren admits he was one of those members who was opposed at the start, he thinks it was a positive step forward.

“I agree with it now, because I get the odd cuddle now,” he laughed.

During his time as a member of Rotary, Warren said he has taken part in many enjoyable projects to help the community.

He said he particularly enjoyed some of the outside working projects, such as collecting flax bushes from Lake Hawkins, on Dunns Road, in Otatara.

“We would break them up and take them up to Bluff Road and plant the bushes down Bluff Road.

“They’re still there.”

He also enjoyed painting the roof at the camp at Omaui.

“What a lot of fun we had. We were all out in the open there and splashing brushes around.”

For ten years he also visited unwell family members of other Rotarians. He found it to be an interesting job.

“I enjoyed it all. I went to their homes, I met their wives and families.

“From my own point of view that was one reason why I got a Paul Harris [Fellowship].”

Another, was his support of an older member of the club, Bill Boys, who was a former president and district governor.

Warren said he would pick Bill up from his home, and later Peacehaven, to take him to Rotary.

Bill eventually moved to Canterbury, near Rangiora, and when he died Warren went to pay his respects.

He flew to Christchurch on the day of the funeral, hired a rental car, drove down to speak about Bill on behalf of Rotary, had a cuppa, jumped in his rental car and then flew back to Invercargill.

And Warren did it all of his own accord. He thinks this also contributed to his Paul Harris award.


Caption: Rotary Cub member, guest and friends gathered for a tribute to honour Warren on September 21,2020. 
Caption: Club member Peter Dunn with Warren at one of the Rotary book sales holding a copy of "Return to Monte Cassino". Club member Ria Bond has a copy of the book and has offered it to members to borrow. Warren fought in the battle of Cassino. He was with the 27th Machine Gun and Infantry Battalion of the New Zealand Division.