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Roger Duncan Guy, 1951 - 2000

By Paul Barnett

Roger Guy died on 22 May 2000 aged 49. Roger was born in Wellington on 22 May 1951. He studied law at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating in 1972.

On graduation he worked as a law clerk with the old and reputable firm of Perry Wylie Pope & Page. One of his early jobs was to transport the aged senior partner of the firm to and from Karori several days a week!

Through his competence, integrity and hard work, Roger achieved the status of partner with Perry Wylie at a younger age than many of his contemporaries. He had decided early that he was to be a litigator – his exposure to conveyancing and commercial work didn't create the same challenges for him. He was well equipped to take on the role of a barrister as he had a voice which could command any courtroom.

Roger was with Perry Wylie Pope and Page when that firm merged with Castle Pope and later McAlister Mazengarb before deciding to act on his intention to move to the independent bar. He joined Woodward Chambers, later renamed John Salmond Chambers, in 1992.

As a barrister, Roger worked as a general lawyer, doing some criminal, and some family work in the matrimonial property area. His speciality, however, was in the commercial area, in areas such as building disputes. In this latter work, his fellowship with the British Institute of Arbitrators stood him in good stead and placed him in demand. He had studied in Hong Kong for the fellowship in 1992. A colleague described his highly developed ability to get quickly to the heart of complex matters, and a conciliatory manner as "an ability to pour oil on troubled waters".

Roger was immensely proud of his son Sam and his accomplishments. He particularly enjoyed helping with Sam's activities with cubs. Roger and Sam would cycle together, particularly around the harbour. Walking the dogs was Roger's favourite leisure activity and his wife, Vivien Angus, believes there was not a track in Wellington he hadn't covered.

When Roger wasn't dog walking or fishing – if he got the chance after being "boatless" for the last 20 years – he was reading. History, which he had studied at university, remained an enduring interest. He also loved literature, especially poetry, and had fairly catholic tastes – from Blake to Baxter, and Dylan to Banjo Paterson.

Roger was an enthusiastic tennis player. He hugely enjoyed the game and proudly kept the Wellington Junior Lawn Tennis Association under-13 mixed doubles trophy he won with his sister in 1963. Roger was also proud to hand around drinks in the silver tray he won in a Law Society tennis tournament. Roger was formerly the club captain of the Karori Lawn Tennis Club where he had been an enthusiastic member and the club's honorary solicitor.

He joined the Thorndon club around 1980 after moving to Wadestown and was a member when he died. He had joined Sam up as a junior member last year. During the hectic 1980s work and personal commitments meant he had less time for tennis, but he continued to play on club afternoons and occasional social interclub matches. His heart attack in November 1999 and subsequent bypass surgery in April 2000 slowed his physical activities, but his cardiologist okayed him to play sport again 12 weeks after surgery.

Roger was a consummate professional. He was courteous but never reluctant to promote his view if he didn't agree with you. A friend comments that his enduring memory of Roger was that he was always generous to a fault. A former colleague comments that Roger was always prepared to assist junior staff, no matter how busy he was.

One of Roger's former partners, Mike Quigg, has said: "Roger was such an energetic person with a fine legal mind. I still think that he had forgotten more law and cases than I have ever known."

This was first published on page 6 of the February 2001 issue of Council Brief, the monthly newsletter of the Wellington District Law Society.

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Last updated on the 31st January 2017