Home' Waitomo News : 17 May 2016 Contents Waitomo News Tuesday, May 17, 2016 5
Prices valid Mon 16th – Tues 31st May 2016. All specials may not be available in some stores. Specials only available at Liquor Centre Stores detailed above. No Trade Sales.
Tues 17th May 2016 -
Sat 21st May 2016
Rum 1L AND
Becks Bots 12s
Tui Lager Bots 15s
4.6% Bots 12s OR
Asahi Super Dry
5% Bots 12s
Export Dry OR
Export 33 Bots 12s
5% 330ml Bots 12pk OR
250ml Cans 12pk
Smirnoff Double Black
300ml Bots 10pk
Jack Daniels & Cola
330ml Cans 8pk
330ml Cans 6pk
330ml Cans 6pk
Monteiths Cider Range
OR Old Mout
Kiwi Town L.C. 6 Maniapoto St, Otorohanga
HE’S been there for hundreds of North King
Country families when they’ve needed him most.
During the most difficult time a family will
endure losing a loved one, VJ Williams & Sons
funeral director Ross ‘Zac’ Lewer, guided them
His caring nature and desire to deliver a digni-
fied farewell for the deceased has never wavered.
But now at age 66, Zac says it is becoming more
and more difficult to separate his own emotions
from those who are grieving – especially in a small
town where “everyone knows everyone”.
And after 39 years with VJ Williams, Zac
retired from his position as funeral director,
embalmer and monumental mason on Friday.
He says it was a job he loved and that has been
a big part of his life.
The former panel beater says being a funeral
director wasn’t easy to begin with. But, through-
out the years, it became his passion.
His compassion and care for others has been
highlighted over the nearly four decades by
countless letters, thank you cards and heartfelt
handshakes received from those he helped.
After leaving Te Kuiti High School, Zac spent
10 years at Andrew’s Panel Works on King St West
which at the time was next door to the original
site of the VJ Williams funeral home.
Soon after leaving the panel beating business
and joining Ford Motors, he was approached by
funeral home owner Bruce Williams in 1976.
It was the beginning of a 39-year relationship.
“When Bruce offered me the job I stumbled
back about 10 feet because I didn’t know if I could
do it,” says Zac.
“But not long after, I went with Vic [Bruce’s
By Todd Ward
after 39 yrs
father – the late Vic Williams] and did my first
removal and eventually came to grips with it.
“I guess you could say I went from the noise
to the quiet.”
Then came the embalming process which Zac
says was “much more difficult”.
“Even in my 40th year as a funeral director, I
still remember what Vic told me – ‘you’ll never
ever get used to it, you only get immune to it’.
“But I’m not leaving now because I’ve got used
to it. It’s just that as I’ve got older I’m tending to
find that I’m getting more emotionally involved
with the families,” he says.
“I’m supposed to be the strong one – the one
who guides the family through.
“But sometimes when you know the people
really well it’s very, very hard to not show those
“I don’t want to let anyone down so I think the
time is right now for me to step away.”
Fondly known by almost everyone as ‘Zac’ –
the nickname is from his school days. During a
weightlifting session, a friend with a lisp caught
glimpse of his slender frame and said “he looks
like a zack of bones”.
And it stuck.
It’s that humility and friendly nature that has
helped Zac touch so many lives.
“I grew to really love the job so much it became
my passion,” he says.
“I’d come close to shedding a tear and I’d have
to fight back a lump in the throat on a regular
basis – I don’t think you’d be human if you didn’t
but it was my job to be strong and I’d like to
think I did that.
“At the end of the day though, I got a lot of
satisfaction out of what I did and all it took was
a handshake, a thank you or a card to make it all
Throughout the years, Zac has become a
much-loved funeral director. So much so, that
he would often be asked for specifically during a
family’s time of need.
He says those requests were an honour and
a privilege, but he never lost sight of what was
“ The most important thing for me was to treat
the deceased person with dignity and also to do
the best I possibly could to help the grieving fam-
ily through an extremely difficult time.
“Afterwards when they’d say their loved one
looked so beautiful and the funeral was brilliant
that meant more to me than all the money in
LOVE & SUPPORT
Reflecting on his years as a funeral director,
Zac says the love and support he received from
the community was crucial for him to provide
And he was involved in every stage of the
process from registering the death and funeral
arrangements right through to orders of service,
headstone preparation and burial.
It’s a big responsibility during a very sensitive
time, but Zac never failed to guide each grieving
family with his trademark charm and respect.
“ The Te Kuiti, Otorohanga and Maniapoto
communities have helped me so much,” he says.
“I’ve looked after a lot of their loved ones and
I’d just like to thank them for their support.
“I’d also like to acknowledge and thank Bruce
[Williams] for the comradeship and friendship
he’s shown me over the past 39 and a half years.”
TRUE & LOYAL
Mr Williams says despite Zac’s retirement the
two will remain close friends.
“When he handed his notice in and said he
was finishing work it floored me a little,” he says.
“He has been a true and loyal employee who
was great at his job and I couldn’t have asked for
a better person to work here.”
Zac says he’s looking forward to some time
off, spending time with family and “pottering
GUIDING HAND: VJ Williams & Sons funeral director Ross ‘Zac’ Lewer retired on Friday after
39 years of guiding hundreds of North King Country families through the difficulty of losing a
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