by Chris Tobin
Retired Timaru businessman Dick Dodds (84) is urging people to write their family histories, before it’s too late.
“A friend said to me, have you written you history? He said that he had, for his children.”
Given this incentive Mr Dodds started writing to fill in gaps and give information for his children and grandchildren.
Because so many family members were now deceased it had been a challenge, he said.
“Up to the time I met my wife it’s all about my family; then I include my wife’s family and the kids and grandkids.
“I got the book completed to give to my family on my 60th wedding anniversary.
“I think if people .. even if they can’t write well, should record it all. When you get to my age there’s no-one to turn to for information. You have to do it yourself.
“The difference between the early generations and now is that they lived in the same home most of their lives, went to the same church and never travelled much.
“Today people have kids all around the world and the cousins never get to meet.
“When they get older they want to know about their families’ histories.”
Mr Dodds has lived in Timaru all his life, receiving his education at Main School and Timaru Tech.
He served a carpentry apprenticeship at Betts, worked in Invercargill briefly, then back in Timaru for joinery company Starsmeare before starting his own aluminium business.
“It [the book] has got tragedies. My youngest brother Raymond died in a shooting accident when he was 19. He and three others were hunting at Mesopotamia Station when a gun discharged accidentally and shot him in the back.
“He worked on a fishing boat and was into hunting and shooting.”
Mr Dodds had one other brother: Brian Dodds, a professional jockey who had his biggest success riding Simon de Montfort to win the 1972 Wellington Cup.
“He got the interest through my uncle who had ponies on Caroline Bay at Christmas.”
With wife Heather, Mr Dodds raised four children. Now they, their five granddaughters and two great-grandchildren have a written account to learn about all those who have gone before them.
The book is titled Dodds Family History 1836-2019: A Timaru Story and was first published in October 2019.