Rueben Barnes’ coffin is marked with a pair of his skate shoes at his funeral service in Rockhampton.
Rueben Barnes’ coffin is marked with a pair of his skate shoes at his funeral service in Rockhampton. ALLAN REINIKKA AR

Friends farewell beloved Rueben

“THREE cheers for Rueben.”

As a funeral-goer called out these words it was clear yesterday’s service for 16-year-old Rueben Barnes was a celebration of a young life cut tragically short.

In an indication of how well-known and liked Rueben was, more than 500 people gathered at the Rockhampton Crematorium East Chapel to say a final goodbye to the boy nicknamed “the worker”.

Rueben died last week while installing insulation at a Stanwell home, south of Rockhampton.

“Rueben, we will all miss you so much, but dad knows that mum needed one of her babies with her. We know that you will look after each other and we will all take comfort in that,” was emotionally read as the final part of a eulogy.

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

Rueben’s love of skateboarding was marked with a pair of his skate shoes placed on his coffin.

An old Holden pulled up for the service with the words “RIP Rueben Barnes” written on the back windscreen and the song, Ruby, by Kaiser Chiefs, was played throughout the funeral.

Rueben was born in Cairns on Saturday August 7, 1993. He was the beloved son of Karen and Murray and adored brother and brother-in-law to Carey, Jason, Tully and Alicia, Sunny, Kelsy, Melody, Jindee and Rangi.

Soon after Rueben was born, the family moved closer to Auntie Debbie, Uncle Lenny and cousins Jarrah and Brodee.

They spent 1½ years living near their relatives, a period the family remembered as being some of the best times together.

They moved Rockhampton in 1994 when Rueben was 2½.

Rueben discovered an obsession for anything to do with tools.

He would say, “I’m gonna be like dad”, and his dad was quick to supply him with his very own real electric drill and real hammer.

He was described as the “cutest kid” with curly blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. During a slide-show of Rueben’s life, it was easy to see he was a cheeky little character growing up.

His love of skateboarding started after meeting some “skater boys” at Emmaus College. He spent the next three years living and breathing skateboarding.

After leaving Emmaus, Rueben’s love moved from skateboarding back to fishing, a love he shared with his brother Tully.

Rueben was always surrounded by his group of friends, especially Cameron, Munchie, Josh and David. Even though he was always hanging out with the boys, he still had time to meet with his girlfriend Sarah.

During the service, Sarah spoke about her first love.

“You’re beautiful, warm, unique, special, loving, caring, and sensitive and I thank God for your company,” she said.

Rueben started a carpenter’s apprenticeship last year and almost immediately he started renovating. After months of work he turned it into a huge bedroom, complete with walk-in wardrobe. He only changed jobs to be an insulation installer about three weeks ago.

Rueben was also a fashion victim. He managed to pull off every trend, even full-length skinnies, a colourful scarf and a woollen beanie – the outfit he wore to his 16th birthday party.


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