Roy Lucca, local painter, turns 100 in October

He might have been born in Griffith, Australia, but Herne Bay resident Roy Lucca has lived in Central Auckland for nearly 70 years. At 99 years old, Roy will hit the ton on 7 October.

After several years working for Frickers’ Painting Company, who had their office in
a downtown pub, Roy, recently married, branched out on his own, with up to seven or eight staff painting all over New Zealand. The reason he worked so much out of Auckland was because he secured a number of government contracts, including the Hobsonville Air Force Base. However, Roy and his staff painted many local houses.

Roy and wife Vera raised nine children, all of whom are still alive and mostly live around Auckland. Roy also has nine grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren His daughter, Karen and husband Garth live with him in the large stately villa in Herne Bay which Roy bought in 1964 for the princely sum of £25,000.

Roy and his wife travelled widely as he wound down his working life - first a cruise on the Fairstar, but even after he lost Vera nineteen years ago Roy continued to travel all over the world. As recently as half a dozen years ago, Roy met up with sister Daisy who lives in Newcastle and they took a nostalgic trip back to Griffith, where they still have friends, but have outlived most of their relatives. Before that he travelled extensively including Scotland, where he walked everywhere he told Ponsonby News. He has fond memories of a visit to Alaska, and several trips to Canada.

Now approaching his 100th birthday Roy is content to sit on his upstairs veranda, and watch over “the ever changing” Waitemata Harbour. Roy has numerous framed certificates testament to his community service over many years, but he is particularly proud of his time with the Sea Scouts. A service he relinquished only about five years ago.

When first married Roy and Vera lived in Hackett Street, St Mary’s Bay, but as their family multiplied they outgrew that house and Roy animatedly tells us he secured his Herne Bay house for a steal - the house where he still lives.

Roy’s son-in-law Garth Stewart warned us not to mention the rates on their lovely villa property. However, Roy was not slow to criticise Len Brown, and can’t wait to see rid of him. He is not happy with the way the city has been run in recent years.

One of Roy’s sons, Gerard, urged Roy to tell us stories of his young days in Australia, including shooting crocodiles. Apparently, Roy told us, you need a very powerful gun to penetrate croc hide, and he used to aim for the belly because bullets just bounced off the upper side hide.

Roy Lucca’s parents were from northern Italy, not far from Milan. Father Enrico was an engineer, and we heard a quaint story about verifying whether a person was qualified or not - inspect a tattoo on his chest. Roy’s dad worked on a number of big projects, including the Burrinjuck Dam on the Murrumbidgee River at Riverina in New South Wales.

The elder Lucca impressed on son Roy the importance of working hard, which he has done all his life. He was still painting in his late 80s.

Roy’s sight is quite poor so he no longer watches television, nor reads, but he is an avid listener to talk back radio, and loves to listen to rugby league - a far superior game to rugby union according to Roy. Roy coached junior boys’ league in his younger days. You have to be so much fitter to play league, he argues. Rugby stops all the time for scrums and lineouts.

His working life may be long over, and he is not so active as he was, but Roy Lucca still retains good health, apart from a dicky tummy and poor eyesight. He used to drink
a bottle of whisky a week, so he is well preserved his daughter Karen jokes, but he has given up completely in recent years.

Roy Lucca now leads a quiet life, but is happy to reminisce about old times, quietly chuckling as he does. He has much to be proud of, including a close-knit family.

There will be a huge gathering of family and friends in early October to celebrate this remarkable man’s centenary.

Ponsonby News congratulates Roy Lucca and wishes him well for his birthday and beyond. (JOHN ELLIOTT)