Gerald Wynter Blathwayt, who died on 8 June 2013, was a well-known Wairarapa lawyer for many years. Described as a “good lawyer with a good legal brain”, he was also a top sportsman.
In many ways an unconventional character, he was known for his plus-fours and bow tie and was described by sister Judith Fyfe as “an incorrigible character; not readily improved; a foreground person”.
He was born in Gisborne on 22 July 1934 and moved with his family to Martinborough and then to Masterton. He was good academically and always interested in sport. After secondary schooling at Wanganui Collegiate, he studied law at Victoria University where he sandwiched successful study between playing university senior rugby, cricket and golf, social engagements and law clerking for Bell Gully.
He was admitted to the bar on 21 February 1956 and went to work with his father, Wynter Blathwayt, at his Masterton firm Gawith Wilson & Co. Sadly, his father died suddenly in February 1960 and at the age of 25 Gerald was called upon to take over the leadership of his family. Brother Jock Blathwayt said at the funeral that Gerald “assumed the role of paterfamilias”.
“I was 19 and Judge was 14. At the time he was rock and anchor for all of us … He was a constant, supplying support and guidance to us.”
Gerald set up his own practice for a period and was joined by brother Jock in the firm Blathwayt and Blathwayt, but both soon joined Logan Blathwayt & Gold, later Logan Blathwayt, where Gerald remained for the rest of his career. He retired in 1999 and continued as a consultant until quite recently.
Throughout his career Gerald Blathwayt was always focused on the interests of his clients, many of whom were farmers. He found farming interesting and once said he had always wanted to be a farmer. That was not to be – instead, he developed this interest into a successful legal career.
Jock Blathwayt: “Gerald did not see his role as to just be telling clients what was or was not lawful. He wanted to persuade clients that there were better ways to organise their affairs, and he took a deep personal interest in them in that role. He built up an extensive and successful farming practice based on sound advice and hard work, and he had the greatest satisfaction seeing the succeeding generations succeed.”
Sport played an important role in Gerald’s life. He represented Victoria University at rugby, cricket and golf. In rugby he played for and against some of the fabled names of the time: Bob Scott, Ron Jarden, Mick Bremner, JP Bremner and Bill Clarke. In a North versus South Island match in which he played, seven or eight present or future All Blacks also took part.
He was probably good enough to have gone further in sport but his family and profession always came firms. Gerald and Sue were married for over 50 years and had three sons, John, Stuart and Guy.
Golf though remained a lifelong love and he was very good at it. He was still playing a month from his death. The Devil’s Own tournament in Palmerston North and the Martinborough Mixed Foursomes were very important to him, and he was a stalwart of the Last Resort tournament in Masterton. While he was always a fierce competitor, the best parts for Gerald were the friendships and post-match socialising over a scotch or two.
Gerald Blathwayt will be remembered for his honesty and courage, and his loyalty and devotion to his family, his profession, his clients and his friends.
This obituary was first published in Council Brief, July 2013, page 3.