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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Issue 5, November 1971

Obituary — Leonard William Field

page 3

Leonard William Field

With the death of Leonard William Field on 4th July, 1970, the Nelson Historical Society lost one of its staunchest members who, since the formation of the society, had worked assiduously to fulfil the society's true aim—to record, preserve and disseminate those segments of our urban, provincial and national history which constitutes our heritage.

Bill Field had inherited an intense interest in Nelson's history, for his father, the late T. A. H. Field had conscientiously collected and recorded a wealth of biographical detail concerning Nelsonians from the founding of the province onwards. The scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings and notes which were compiled were carefully preserved and extended by Bill, and this mine of biographical information will prove to be of inestimable worth to research students of Nelson's history of the pioneering period. Bill's elder brother, the late A. N. Field, was also a conscientious researcher into Nelson's early history and his notable book "Nelson Province 1642–1842" has maintained its place as a standard reference book on our provincial history up to and including its establishment as the New Zealand Company's Second Colony.

It was with this background of family interest in local history that Bill carried the torch of enquiry, investigation and recording the tangled skeins of incident and action that form the vital substance of Nelson's past.

With the formation of the Nelson Historical Society, Bill became an enthusiastic committee member who devoted many of his leisure hours to recording, sifting and preserving the mass of material contained in diaries, papers, photographs and other records that came into the society's hands.

It was in the course of this work that his wealth of background knowledge of people, buildings, institutions and incidents connected with the first century of Nelson's provincial history proved of immense value to his colleagues in their task.

Although Bill has passed from the scene, his work remains as a lasting monument to his enthusiasm and a sub-committee of the Historical Society is endeavouring to carry on the work which he so conscientiously began by sorting, mounting and indexing the wealth of material which he so carefully preserved.