The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)
The Man and His Mother
The Man and His Mother.
To this tribute Dr. Marsden adds his own words of appreciation of a friend he is delighted to honour: “He is kindly, just and helpful to his students, always ready to do a kindly action without ostentation—keenly interested, as a citizen, in public affairs, and yet unostentatious, and always practical in outlook, and willing to learn …. He is essentially modest and unassuming, and one of his human traits is that throughout his whole career he found time each fortnight or month to write a long letter to his mother describing the daily occurrences of his family and work, the various functions he attended, and such news as would interest his far-away mother.”
Those letters were too sacred to publish now, but if they had been kept, as he hoped, they would be invaluable as a record of the times when the work on which he was engaged was seen, in its perspective, as the foundation of the newer industries of the future.
Our first New Zealand peer, though so busy in his research work and his many professional duties, keeps a close eye on public affairs.
Physically Lord Rutherford is a capital product of the healthy strenuous open air life of his native land. He is tall and big-boned, a competent frame that houses a great heart and a great brain.
One of his English interviewers said that “he looks like a peer … a ruddy outdoor complexion and easy, rather old-fashioned clothes, put you in mind of a country grandee up from the west… When he goes there (the House of Lords) to make one of his rare speeches on scientific matters, he commands instant attentive respect, which is the rightful due to an aristocrat of learning, the greatest experimental scientist now alive on the earth.”
Lord Rutherford met Mary Newton, the lady who became his wife, in his student days at Canterbury College. His only daughter died some years ago.
He and Lady Rutherford have a comfortable old English home at Cambridge, where many New Zealanders call to greet and honour the renowned lord of science who is also one of the most unassuming and kindly of men.