Grace_Ave_for_TNL.jpg Grace Avenue sign (2018). Mike Gooch. Word on the Street image collection.

South Taranaki has had few men more community-minded than Roylston Allen Grace.

Born in 1895, Roy Grace lived in the Kaponga district his whole life. After serving in World War One, he married and lived on the family farm on Rowan Road. As a young man he had a great interest in cricket and hockey. He played and umpired, then went on to significant administrative roles in both sports. His contributions were acknowledged with several life memberships.

Perhaps most significant was his leadership of the Taranaki Cricket Association. Grace was elected chairman during the Second World War and again after the war. Many believe it was changes he instigated that culminated in Taranaki's successes in the Hawke Cup competition of the 1970s. He also raised a considerable amount of money for the association. When he was elected a life member in 1964 he donated the Taranaki cricket honours board hanging in the Pukekura Park pavilion.

Grace was also heavily involved in local body politics in south Taranaki. Of note were his many years served on the Eltham County Council and the Hāwera Hospital Board. There were many other community groups as well. At his sudden death, aged 70, in 1966 a substantial obituary in the newspaper cited his involvement at the time in 22 organisations.

When the Kaponga public baths were built in the early 1960s, an existing right-of-way access to them was surveyed and, in 1964, designated a road. It was named Grace Avenue in Roylston’s honour.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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