Martin Biss was active in his retirement, until his love of gardening cost him his life.

The Alexandra man (88), who lived at Ranui Court Retirement Village, died on October 25.

The cause was legionellosis, also known as Legionnaires disease.

Mr Biss’ wife, Helen, hoped garden centres would take more responsibility in raising awareness of the risks of compost or potting mix.

“They should tell people when they purchase compost or potting mix how to stay safe,” she said.

“It’s lethal, we know that.”

Mr Biss’ son, Simon Biss, of Hamilton, said his father was a “great gardener”.

“He would play with potting mix all day.”

About a week before his father’s death, he was called by staff from Ranui Court Retirement Village.

“They said he was a bit wobbly, like he had had a few drinks.”

Paramedics were called but initially dismissed his condition due to his age and a confusing raft of symptoms where he would deteriorate, then rally.

“I called him the next morning on his mobile and he was good as gold.”

However, his father was known to be fit and healthy and staff believed something was wrong and he was transferred to Dunstan Hospital.

“By the time I got there on the Friday and the Saturday he was really bad. I called my brother in Perth [Australia] and said, Dad alive, you better get here now’.”

What followed was a general improvement in his condition and doctors began to withdraw treatment by October 24 but his father died overnight, Mr Biss said.

“We were talking about the rugby [World Cup] that morning and he seemed better. That night his heart just gave out.”

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