TRIBUTES are pouring in for veteran New Zealand broadcaster Phillip Leishman, who died from an aggressive form of cancer this week.
The 61-year-old was surrounded by his family when he died.
Friend and colleague Keith Quinn said he was somewhat relieved when he heard the news, “because I didn’t want to see him dragged through this awful situation”.
“Me and a group of friends just last week were planning on visiting him, but we were told that it was just down to family and that it was a vigil – and we understood,” he told Fairfax NZ.
“But then it’s just terribly sad to lose such a good friend and a funny man. Sixty one is far to early these days and he should have had many more years to enjoy watching his sport.”
Quinn spoke to his younger brother Mark just hours before Phillip died.
“He said the family were just very aware of the situation, and they were coping well and as best they could.”
Presenter Hamish McKay called him a “gentleman and an inspiration”.
“Saturday mornings in the 70’s with Glyn Tucker are a treasured memory.”
TV presenter and model agency founder Sara Tetro said 61 was too young.
“Thoughts to his family and all out there going through the same nightmare.”
Prime Minister John Key also offered his condolences to the Leishman family.
He knew the broadcaster “pretty well” and their children went to school together.
“I had the opportunity to get to know him over the course of the time I’ve been back in New Zealand, he’s got a young family… and obviously a very, very sad day for the Leishman’s.”
Leishman had surgery for a brain tumour in May last year.
It was a success, but the tumour recently returned.
His credits included hosting Wheel of Fortune, HSBC Golf Club, Olympic and Commonwealth Games reporter and sports news presenter.
In 2011 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting.
He said last year that he wanted to be remembered as a “natural broadcaster” who loved his job.