RUEBEN Barnes had the cheekiest grin.

He was always happy and loved by everyone he met.

His three brothers, four sisters and dad received a devastating blow on Wednesday when 16-year-old Rueben died while installing insulation at a Stanwell home, south of Rockhampton.

The family is still picking up the pieces after mum, Karen, lost her fight against cancer in April.

Their dad, Murray, has been left to raise the children on his own.

Yesterday the strong family was able to laugh about memories of their "Ruby" - a fisherman, skater and talented carpenter.

Older brother Tully, 25, said Rueben grew up with a hammer in his hand.

"When he was three he lived in a tool belt and had nothing else on, and a hammer in his hand," said his sister Kelsy, 21.

Murray is a fridge mechanic and as an infant Rueben would pull fridges apart using an electric screw driver.

"I want to be like Dad, he used to say," said Granddad Archie.

"He would take the motor out, he'd take it all apart but he wouldn't put it all back together," said his sister Sunny, 23.

Rueben had done one year as an apprentice carpenter and changed to installing insulation about three weeks ago.

As you walk through the family's Berserker home there are memories of Rueben built into the house.

He pulled his bedroom apart and rebuilt it and was getting ready to turn another room into a salon for his hairdresser sister Kelsy.

In his dad's room there's a TV cabinet he built for his mum earlier this year when she was sick.

And in the kitchen there's a bench that sits below dozens of family photos glowing in the room.

When Rueben wasn't working he was fishing.

"We've got a photo of him at his fifth or sixth birthday and he's got a fishing rod, he's holding it up and he's just opened it," said Sunny.

"He'd get home from work at four in the afternoon, he'd go out on a boat at five and he'd get back at three in the morning from fishing and he'd be at work at six."

Tully bought a boat with his little brother.

"All the photos we have of him from the last two years, he's got a fish in his hands," Tully said.

Sunny said Rueben loved skating, BMX riding and fishing, "and he was awesome at all of them".

"He had the cheekiest grin all the time, he was always happy," Kelsy said.

"He's always been just so beautiful," said Tully.

"He was never grumpy and everyone loved him."

Rueben's funeral will be held at 4pm on Monday at the North Rockhampton Crematorium.

The family has invited all of Rueben's friends to the ceremony and family will travel from as far away as New Zealand and Darwin.


The Morning Bulletin was overwhelmed with tributes yesterday from people who knew Rueben. 


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