Five Rivers Highway
Soper, Alistair John (Ack): Peacefully, at Rowena Jackson, Invercargill on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, aged 83 years. Dearly loved husband of Lyndel (Invercargill), Loved father and father-in-law of Richard (Athol), Kristen (Christchurch), and Nick and Els (London). Loved brother and brother-in-law of Neville* and Mary*, Adele* Frost, Winston and Liz (Athol), Jen* and John Sheat (Adelaide), Robert* and Robyne Selbie (Dunedin) and Liz Selbie (Dunedin). Loved grandfather of Claudia and Fraser (Christchurch) and uncle to his nieces and nephews. Special thanks to all the staff at Rowena Jackson for their compassionate care of Ack. A service to celebrate Ack's life will be held in the Athol Hall on Monday, July 6 at 1.00pm. Interment at the Athol Cemetery to follow. Messages to 76 Birdwood Avenue, Beckenham, Christchurch 8023. (*denotes deceased)
-Benjamin, Olivia and Jackson Soper
Michael Jones (All Black)and family
I will always recall him as a deeply compassionate, honest and faithful man, strong in his Christian faith, genuine in his thoughts, a lover of his family and a dedicated rugby man. Thank you Ack for all you have contributed to our lives. “To live is Christ; to die is gain”
Rev. Lachlan Mackay: Jeremy, Clarissa, Annalisa and Leilana (Children)
I first met Ack when I was five years old when we shifted to Athol in 1959
From watching him as a Child playing Rugby I have spent a lot of time with Ack over the last approximately 30 years as a member of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship. Ack was a very special and humble man who loved the Lord.
We have spent a lot of time together at Chapter meetings, Conventions and traveling together to Regional meetings in Tapanui.
Thank you so much to Lyndel for sharing Ack with us for so many years.
I pray that you and all of your family will know the peace of Jesus as you celebrate and remember the life of a very special man.
Blessings Noel Spiers
By an incredible coincidence, we learned of Ack’s death. First of all, we would like to offer our sincere condolences to Lyndel.
We had met during a tourist stay at Athol farm in fall 1981. Ack was our guide to discover this immense land on horseback or by pick-up. I also enjoyed talking with him about French ... rugby ( of course).
We exchanged mail for a few years before your visit with us in 1988 on your way back from London to Athol.
Then we had the pleasure to go back in New Zealand in the fall 1996 and spend unforgettable moments with you in Athol.
We have always appreciated your friendship, your generosity and your hospitality.
We will always engrave in our hearts the memory of Ack.
Hervé, Claire and Isabelle Morin
The long conversations on Monday mornings about the game on Saturday.
Between 1978 and 1980 I lived in Invercargill and worked as the Program Director at the Invercargill YMCA. In January 1978 and 1979 I ran extended summer camps for the youth of Invercargill on Ack Soper’s property near Athol. Through his generosity some hundreds of Invercargill teenagers spent time under canvas in northern Southland, climbed the hills, kayaked the rivers and sailed on Lake Wakatipu. Memories of this experience will still be with many of them today. Thanks to Ack.
I vividly remember first meeting him. My first impression was of an incredibly strongly built man with huge thighs bulging out of his work shorts, unshaven, twinkling mischievous eyes and a really big smile. Prior to our meeting I was a bit in awe of this ex All Black, but he instantly put me at ease and we got on from the first moment. He was enthusiastic about the Y camps from the very beginning and enthusiastically drove me around to look at possible sites in his paddocks. The best in his opinion was on the banks of the river winding through his property. Practice camps with volunteer camp leaders soon followed, always catching up with Ack and Lyndel, who I steadily got to know better.
During the main summer camps Ack would come to see us every evening. Discarding his beaten up farm truck he would come cruising around to the campsite, sometimes in the mud, in his light blue, leather seated, XJ Jaguar, which always made us laugh. In 1979 one of my volunteer camp leaders was a good cartoonist and he drew a wonderful picture of Ack's Jag, with a ute back and lots of extra special Ack features. We made it into a 'For Sale' notice '4 Wheel Drive Jag Farm Truck, one owner, 0-30 kph in 10 minutes etc' and then very early one morning with the chuckling support of the Athol shop keeper, stuck it on the outside of the shop door. We knew Ack came to the shop every morning about 7 to buy a paper. We were hiding behind a nearby bush when he arrived. He pulled up in his normal ramshackle farm truck, swung out and jumped up the few steps, and was about to push open the store door when he suddenly stopped, peered at the notice on the door, then peered more closely, stood back, then nervously looked around behind him at the deserted road, a big smile on his face. Of course we were in fits of laughter and pretty much fell out of the bush and rolled around on the ground laughing, completely giving ourselves away. Then I think we jumped in our own little truck and sped off, with Ack laughing and waving his fist at us.
Of course Ack did get me back. On the last night of the camps we always put on a big campfire and feast for everyone, inviting all the local neighbours. Mid-evening he and his brother Winston jumped on me and I was summarily thrown in the river.
These days I live in Melbourne, Australia. I’m 70 myself. I went on to have a career in a big American corporation. We become the sum of the experiences we have and the people we meet who impress us. I Those past campers and indeed many Southlanders and I have much to thank Ack for. Certainly, I’ve always remembered Ack and his fine example of how to live and be, all those summers ago, in Athol.
Thank you Ack.