The Colac Bay War Memorial
Bryan William Crengle will be remembered as a tough, but very fair harness racing stipendiary steward. The former Royal New Zealand Navy man (RNZN 14551) died in Auckland Thursday June 10 2010. He was 73.
A service was held for Bryan at the St Christopher’s Chapel, Davenport Navy Base in Auckland on Monday, and later in the week he was taken the length of New Zealand to Colac Bay in Southland where he was both born and buried.
Colac Bay was a special place to Bryan. It is a small township 10 minutes south of Riverton on the scenic southern route. He left there in 1954 to join the Navy when he was 15.
“That is where his discipline came from. He was a stickler for the rules, tidiness, and presentation. Looking smart was important to Bryan. He used to tell the drivers and trainers to ‘look as smart as a guardsman’. He didn’t tolerate dirty shoes or boots,” said friend and fellow North Island stipendiary steward Tom Taumanu.
Taumanu and chief racecourse inspector Rod Carmichael both made the trip to Devonport from their Waikato homes to pay their respects to their former work colleague.
“Bryan was a stipe in the North Island for 10 to 12 years during the late 1980s and 1990s. He had a very good rapport with the drivers and trainers. He was well respected and he loved horses. In fact he raced a few and also had gallopers, including a very good one with Moira Murdoch at Waiuku,” Taumanu said.
When Bryan left the Navy he worked at a Waiouru radio station and also drove taxis for a while. He was dark in complexion which always confused people when he was travelling or staying in hotels with Taumanu.
“I’m a quarter cast Maori and was a bit fairer than Bryan, who wasn’t a Maori. At a hotel once we were filling in forms and the receptionist gave Bryan my keys and I was given his. I remember Bryan looked at her and said “one must not assume’.”
“He was a great chap. I spoke at his service and told everyone how he will be fondly remembered in harness racing circles for a very long time. I’ll never forget him,” Taumanu said.
Bryan is survived by his wife Jenny and two children Sue and Diane.