World-renowned architect and Hastings-born war hero Guy Natusch has been remembered as an “absolute gentleman”.

The Hawke’s Bay architect and former World War II Royal New Zealand Navy Sub-lieutenant has died aged 99.

Napier mayor Kirsten Wise led tributes to Natusch on Sunday.

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“It’s with great sadness I bid farewell to Guy Natusch whom I have had the absolute honour and pleasure of getting to know over the past few years,” she said.

“A decorated war hero and world-renowned architect, but above all else an absolute gentleman dedicated to his family, his friends and his community.”

Natusch leaves behind wife of 75-years Joan and three sons – Barry, Graeme and Adrian.

Natusch, who grew up in Hawke’s Bay, where he was a practising architect until his retirement in 1997, died on September 30.

His grandfather, Charles Natusch, arrived in New Zealand in 1886 and founded the architectural and quantity surveying firm Natusch & Sons.

Guy Natusch, a graduate of Auckland University’s School of Architecture, was active in the firm from 1946 to 1997, working on both commercial and residential projects.

His notable work included Napier’s War Memorial Hall, Bisson House, Wool Exchange Building and Red Cross Hall.

He also developed a basic housing project called Solwood Houses.

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Wise said Natusch also worked as a heritage advisor for Heritage New Zealand from the 1960s until well after his retirement as a practicing architect.

“Hawke’s Bay and Napier was very fortunate to have an architect of Guy’s calibre living here and involved in the design of many landmark buildings which we continue to enjoy,” she said.

“During my work with Guy over recent years on the restoration of the War Memorial, his strong community spirit was evident.”

World War II veteran Guy Natusch and Neville Smith representing the navy in front of the Veronica Sun Bay on Marine Parade in 2017. Photo / Paul Taylor
World War II veteran Guy Natusch and Neville Smith representing the navy in front of the Veronica Sun Bay on Marine Parade in 2017. Photo / Paul Taylor

Natusch was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2003 New Year Honours, for services to architecture.

Natusch, born in 1921, served in the RNZN from 1942 to 1945 on destroyers and motor torpedo boats, serving in the North Sea and English Channel for D-Day operations.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for good service against enemy light forces in May 1944.

The architect also finished runner-up in the Hawke’s Bay Today’s person of the year in 2017, after leading the charge to restore Napier’s War Memorial.

The New Zealand Institute of Architects also shared its condolences to Natusch’s family and friends.

A celebration of Natusch’s life will be held in the Pan Pac Foyer at the Municipal Theatre, Napier – his last built project – completed 1995 – on Monday, October 5, at 2pm, followed by a private cremation.