IT is my honour to talk to you about a wonderful human being, who has been my best friend, my inspiration, my mentor and my dad.
Kevin started life from humble beginnings, born in a small cottage in Rockhampton to a fireman (Sidney) and his wife (Stella), and his grandmother who took in washing to make a living. He was the elder brother of Herb and joined the Qld Govt Railways in the parcels office at the ripe old age of 15.
They called him "Skeeter” when he started because he was always buzzing around the office annoying the older workers. He worked hard, learning shorthand and typing which was unusual for a male, and rose through the ranks, from clerk to Private Secretary to the Commissioner, District Superintendent at Emerald, Mackay, Toowoomba and Maryborough, General Manager Central Division in Rockhampton and finally Assistant Commissioner (Commercial) in Brisbane before retiring after 45 years in the railways.
As you can imagine, the Railways played a big part in his life, and he made lifelong friends in the Railways, some of whom are here today. He also gave his utmost devotion to duty to the Railways. One achievement of which he was particularly proud of was the main-line electrification from Rockhampton to Emerald when he was the General Manager M in Rockhampton.
He told me that he never thought of himself as smart and often referred to himself as just an Old Railway Battler. How many times have I heard that expression. We now just shorten that to ORB. (by the way im now ORB2.) But what set Kevin apart was that he treated all men equally, from railway fettler to visiting dignitaries. His colleague Bob Mullins is here today to give us further insight into Kev's life in the railways.
In 1952 Kevin married his sweetheart Beth in Rockhampton, and they had 2 children Peter and Suzanne. He was without doubt a true family man who loved his family, encouraged us in every respect, particularly to get an education, and was always there for us if ever we needed him.
This love for his family extended to his wider family including sons and daughters in law, grandchildren and great grandchildren. After Beth died in 1996, Kevin found love and happiness again with an old friend June Tompson and they married in 2003. Like his first family, Kevin's love for June's children was unconditional and they returned that love and were a constant support for Kev in his declining years.
Kevin loved to play tennis and often reminded us, of how he used to be Rod Lavers doubles partner. I have yet to see some photographic evidence of same and have to trust him on that.
He also was a very keen golf player and I remember one particular time when he won the Turbett cup in Rockhampton and brought Beth , my sister and I to see the presentation at the golf club and all we did was complain because we were missing Fred Flintstone on the TV.
He was competitive but also a good loser. Except when it came to cards. If he was winning, his expression was "it's like taking corn from a blind cocky” but if he was losing, he was "a good player playing with bad luck”.
The competitiveness extended into his later years when he could compare ailments with his colleagues. A common phrase was "You think you've got troubles”. At least he can now say he has beaten some of his friends to the Pearly Gates.
Kevin was an avid reader, and told me once that he thought he had read every war history book in the Rockhampton library. When he completed Senior at night school, he knew more about history than the history teacher. In fact the history teacher asked Dad to co-author a history book with him. So as you can imagine, Dad was terrific to have on your team when it came to trivial pursuit.
Also he loved the opportunity to tell people snippets of information or interesting facts such as the reason for clinking glasses together when toasting.
But without doubt, Kevins greatest strength was his social skills. I am not referring to his ability to charm every girl he meets including the nurses in the hospital over the last few years or down at the pharmacy, (by the way, I've watched his moves), but his ability to relate to people and develop that relationship.
Most people in life have 2 or 3 close lifelong friends and lots of acquaintances, but Kevin had 2 or 3 acquaintances and lots of friends.
He would take the trouble to keep in contact with people instead of letting that friendship drift away. He would regularly ring his family to keep in touch, or ring someone to organize a golf game or, I have to admit sometimes, to cadge a free meal if the circumstances allowed. I would not be surprised if he was organizing a golf game up there, somewhere, or maybe putting his name down for the choir or for harp lessons.
Do I think he had any regrets. I don't think so. Whenever he made a toast, it was usually to "health , wealth and happiness” or "to the family” and I think he got just that.
We face life without him now, but it was a life well spent. It was not a premature or tragic end and his life enriched the lives of those around him and for that we thank and congratulate him.
Lets not be sad, because his memory lives on within us, through family rituals, corny Dad jokes that we have heard 100 times, or his favourite expressions. And when the radio plays one of his favourite songs again, no doubt we will think of him.
Well Done Dad!