William McLeod

Bill McLeod was a Wellington Humanist member who died recently, aged 87, on Saturday 15 September. Bill was a previous Treasurer for our Society and continued to attend meeting and seminars whenever he could make it – we saw him quite recently at a monthly meeting.

We attended a memorial service organised by his friends – Bill’s parents and brothers died before him. The service was a warm and friendly occasion. Bill had requested a paupers funeral but his friends felt we all needed time together to say goodbye and share recollections. We were very happy to receive a copy of Bill’s memoirs from which I will share a few snippets. Bill’s father meet Bill’s mother, mother who was from Wales, during the first World War and brought her back to Wellington where Bill was born in 1925. Bill and his three brothers lived at 79 Kelburn Parade, where the Adam Concert Room of Victoria University’s Music department is now situated. Bill’s father was a sea captain so the family were fortunate during the Depression as his father remained employed. Both Bill’s brothers played cricket for Victoria University. Bill remembered that his mother rarely resorted to smacking, a ‘sharp remark always kept her son’s in tune.’ Bill experienced the force 7 earthquake that hit Wellington in 1942, though fortunately their house was not damaged. Bill studied for a BA at Victoria University, including Russian in his studies. Bill spoke fluent Russian maintaining a lifelong interest in Russia and also China. He travelled frequently to these countries in the 1950’s and 1960’s, during the ‘Cold War’, and because of this interest he was spied on by the SIS. Bill thought this was a huge joke as he was simply just interested in the culture of Russia and China. Bill worked for 29 years as a sub-editor with the Dominion Post. (I wonder what Bill would think of the Dominion Post’s new editorial policy.) As Bill’s friends said, Bill was a quiet man, known for many years as ‘Silent Sam’. He enjoyed socialising and could converse on most topics. Bill especially loved discussing politics and was staunchly ‘left wing’ all his life, but disapproved of the policies of Stalin and Mao, that led to death and suffering. Thank you Bill for leaving us your memories.