My dad Jack

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My dad Jack passed away last week. He was 90 years of age and regular readers of YOURLifeChoices enews will remember the mention of his milestone birthday in January and of our trip to Birdsville with Dad a few years ago.

The loss of Dad is emblematic of the loss of a generation which was admirable in so many ways. He was born in 1923 in Broken Hill, one of seven children of Harold and Ruby Richards. Harold was station manager at Mt Leonard cattle station near Birdsville and Dad was homeschooled by his mother until 1933, when Ruby could no longer endure the hardship of the outback and took the girls to Sydney to be educated. Dad and his brothers Peter and Terry were sent to board at the Birdsville Pub while attending the school during the day with just seven other pupils.

At age 13 Ruby sent Jack to work at Dirranbandi cattle station in Queensland. He did not realise that all his wages were being sent to his mother until, some time later, he decided to leave and was told he did not even have the money for a train fare. The manager reluctantly gave him the fare to Brisbane, but Dad decided to jump off a few stops down the track at a town called Thallon.

Here he met two drovers who took him to Barcaldine Downs sheep station near Longreach. He worked at Barcaldine until he enlisted in the Royal Australian Airforce in 1942, and when sent for jungle training exercise in Wonga Park in Victoria, he met the girl of his dreams, my mum Betty.

After the war Betty and Jack settled in Ringwood and Dad retrained to become a carpenter. He was involved in many buildings still standing, including Maroondah Hospital, the Ringwood Town Hall, the Melbourne Grammar music centre among others. But none so fine as our family home, the house that Jack built in Ringwood north.

Dad was a wonderful father; loving, supportive and non-judgmental. He taught me so much and gave both my brother Ken and I educational opportunities far beyond those he had been offered. He delighted in our achievements and overlooked our shortcomings. He revered his wife and was always happiest when she was nearby. He adored his four grandchildren – Monica, SJ, Lucy and Mark – without reservation. He has left our family with a strong foundation of how to love and give without expecting anything in return.

Goodbye Dad, you and your generation are a very hard act to follow.

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Written by Kaye Fallick


Total Comments: 18
  1. 0

    Your Dad Jack sounded like a remarkable man. My Dad also was a remarkable man, born in India of Irish parents. They came on trading vessels in search of a better life. 5 children were born in India and Dad was 5, the youngest, when his father died of pneumonia at the age of 43. His poor wife had to send the boys, 3 of them to boarding school, for the poor railway employees, and the 2 girls went to live with their Aunt. Lucky his wife had done a Nursing course so she had to go back to the Hospital to try and make a living. My Dad never regretted anything about his life. He met the love of his life, my Mother, whose parents were from Scotland, and were stationed in India in the Army. My sister and I were born in India but when the uprising came in 1946,Dad decided to take us to Australia to make a better life. He got a job immediately as a Boilermaker in Redfern and has never looked back. He died at the age of 87 and Mum died 6 Months before at age 82. My children still remember the good times they had at Grandparents home .

  2. 0

    What a wonderful story about one’s life,so adventurous inspiring no wounder you are so proud Kaye.

  3. 0

    What a wonderful tribute to your father. In our celebrity oriented culture we need constant reminders of so-called ordinary men and women whose quietly productive and admirable lives are the solid foundations on which all that is best in our nation is built.

  4. 0

    Kaye, you write so nicely about your father and his very interesting life. Like you, HOLA and many of us, our parents’ generation exemplified strong and selfless character traits that were typical of their time.
    I have just nursed my 90 year old father at home through three weeks of debilitating illness. There was never one complaint and each time I brought something he needed, there was a ‘thank you’.
    He too is a veteran of WW2, lucky to have survived his involvement in the air raids over Germany which took the lives of so many.
    Nothing seems to faze his generation and we are all the better for having them with us.

  5. 0

    Kaye you are so lucky to have had your wonderful father for so long. Mine died when I was 20 and today (Dec 4) is the 44th anniversary of his death. He was born in 1897 and fought in WW1. Our fathers had remarkable lives – mine had been a wool classer in northern SA (and near Broken Hill) between the wars. You will miss him so much, but what treasured memories you have.

  6. 0

    What a beautiful tribute to your Dad Kaye, so good to celebrate a life well spent, and you are so right – a generation that is indeed a hard act to follow. My dad sadly passed away much earlier than 90, and I still miss him. However my dear mum lived to 92 and she herself was a gem of a lady and loved by all at her Aged Care Home – she was certainly a ‘one off’
    This generation had far more stamina.

  7. 0

    Sorry for your loss Kaye but happily you have a lifetime of beautiful memories and he will always live in your heart and the heats of those he loved

  8. 0

    Such a lovely tribute Kaye. You are right, your dad’s generation is a hard act to follow. I am sorry for your loss.

  9. 0

    Commiserations Kaye. He was of that generation of Aussies that are truly pioneers and endured, stoically, a hard life but they served their country, families, friends and community well with humour, love and strength. PLUS they did it without the luxuries that we enjoy today, a lot of which is the result of the hard work they and their partners put in. Toast him at Christmas, hug your family and Merry Christmas. 🙂

  10. 0

    Dear Hola, postage stamp, Graeme, Actual Cat, DJL, Troubadour, Tadpole, AmandaR, and heyyybob,
    Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful remarks – I haven’t met you, but you are incredibly supportive and i appreciate that very much


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