Lawyers at Simpson Grierson reflect on the life of Wayne Browne, who died last week.
He was pulled from the surf by his partner, Jo Watson, in February when a freak accident broke his neck leaving him paralysed.
“Wayne is a huge loss to all of us,” said Simpson Grierson chairman Kevin Jaffe on behalf of the firm, where Browne had worked for 18 years.
“He was a highly regarded banking partner, who had a strong client following over a long period. Wayne was a person of high intellect with passion for the law.
“He was a wonderful team person who contributed at all levels within the firm. His passing was tragic. He will leave lasting impressions on us all.”
Browne stepped into a hole under the surf as a wave broke on top of him, forcing him under the swell and breaking his neck, a report by the NZ Herald said. It was a week before his 53rd birthday.
“He was in intensive care for about six weeks and [medical staff] were expecting to see some movement coming back but when they didn't see that, they started doing brain scans and found evidence of some brain damage,” twin brother Scott Browne said.
“And then it all went downhill pretty quickly over the next week. It became pretty obvious that he wasn't going to recover.”
He died last Monday with his family by his hospital bed.
“He was so suddenly taken away. He literally went from being a fit and healthy man when he went into the water to being completely paralysed when he came out,” Watson, his partner of 25 years, said.
More than 900 people attended his funeral at St Patrick’s Cathedral last week.
“His team will miss his intellect, passion and dedication to the law, exceptional mentoring skills, unwavering support, and commitment to being available whenever needed,” a tribute by the firm read.
“His cheeky smile and sense of humour will be missed together with his easy going nature that created so many long-lasting friendships.”