Stephen Crosby died in Gisborne on 16 August 1988 after a brief illness. He was aged 46.
The Gisborne District Law Society has lost one of its most competent and popular members. The high regard in which he was held by his fellow practitioners was evidenced by the number who attended the special sitting of the Gisborne High Court to pay their last respects to Stephen.
As a practitioner Stephen was always prepared to “go the extra mile” for his clients whether in court or in the commercial, family or conveyancing areas.
His word was his bond. He did not have nor ever claimed a consuming interest in the philosophy of the law. What he did have was courage, tenacity and a determination not to be deflected from the issues he saw to be important.
Combined as they were with a fund of common sense and ability to look at all with quiet good humour, those characteristics made him a worthy champion of his clients’ interests, a pleasant companion and a good friend.
A great burner of the midnight oil, he worked long hours at the office in the interests of his clients.
Stephen was a member of the Gisborne District Law Society for many years before becoming President in 1985. In that capacity he represented Gisborne for two years on the Council of the New Zealand Law Society. There he made a great impression. He was initially quite outspoken on the structure and some of the procedures of the New Zealand Council, believing it should be more a more streamlined and representative body than he found it.
Partly as a result of his submissions and persistence, a leaner national body will soon be in place. Also partly as a result of Stephen’s urgings, significant cost savings have been made by rescheduling the number of meetings held each year.
Stephen was a vigorous and hardworking administrator in both sport and promotion of the district in which he lived.
He would never give up. That same quality shone bravely through as he battled his illness. In the most difficult of circumstances he remained positive and determined until, finally, his body failed; but never his spirit.
It is that spirit, of all Stephen’s fine qualities, that will most be remembered by his colleagues and friends.
This obituary is a summary of addresses given by the Hon Mr Justice Thorp and Gisborne District Law Society President Geoff Bibby at a special High Court sitting. It was published in LawTalk 292, 28 September 1988, page 7.