The eulogy given at the funeral of Raymond Franklin Edmonds (12 Apr 1916 - 30 Mar 2008)
I would like to welcome everyone here and thank you all for coming to help us farewell Dad and ask you to join in a celebration of his 'almost' 92 years on the West Coast. As his eldest son I feel privileged to be given the opportunity of sharing with you, some of the memories of the many aspects of his life as a West Coaster.
Dad was born on April 12 1916 at Cowell, to Harry and Mabel. He was around 6 weeks old when Grandad brought his family to the farm he had selected on section 49 Hundred of Pinbong. He and his two brothers and one sister grew up on the farm, doing most of their schooling at the Pinbong School, about a mile or so up the road. The teachers used to board at Grandad's - Dad must have liked what he saw in the teachers as he decided he would like to become one, and so did an extra year at school trying to win a scholarship to go to Adelaide to complete the education required for that occupation. However, it was not to be. I think he would have made a good teacher, as he was a fairly patient man and could explain things in a way anyone could understand.
Like many farm lads he did a bit of shearing around the district in his young days and one of his shearing partners was George North who had a daughter, Josephine. Their romance blossomed particularly during the winter when the Kolballa netball team and Pygery football team shared the same grounds for Saturday competitions and continued socially into the evenings at the inevitable Saturday night dance.
Dad and Mum married early in 1941 and lived in an old stone house at "Wonga", the second block of the Edmonds' farm. They lived there for around 5 years and, when Grandad and Grandma moved into Wudinna, they moved into the house that was to become their home for the next 50 years; the name of that property was "Yardookra".
During the first 12 years of their marriage, their 7 children were born - at one stage, with the birth of the twins, Mum was busy with 5 children under 7 - no wonder Dad spent quite a bit of his time in the paddocks and later went deaf for a few years!
Dad was an avid football player, playing for Pygery. When Pygery and Yaninee football clubs combined to form the United Football Club he became involved with that club for many years, rarely missing a match. He acted as goal umpire or time keeper for many years and was inducted as a life member. When the Wudinna and United clubs amalgamated he automatically became a life member of that club, along with two of his sons, John and Graeme.
Dad was an involved member of the Pygery branch of the Agricultural Bureau. He rarely missed a meeting and was the secretary for many years. He attended the field days, where members would visit each other's farms and go on "emu walks" to check out their crops to compare different seeding practices, although I think those days were more for bragging rights than being educational excursions. He took part in several of the annual hogget and crop competitions. He was subsequently presented with a life membership.
He was on the Wudinna Area School committee for around thirteen years, in the role of secretary for most of those. He attended many working bees that were organized at the school, as well as other areas of the district such as the town halls of Pygery and Wudinna, the football ovals and tennis courts. He was a very strong supporter of most things to do with the district, particularly the Wudinna, Pygery and Yaninee areas.
Dad also involved himself with the Wudinna Show Society and, while rarely entering exhibits in the show himself, was a tireless volunteer in preparing the Show grounds for what was one of the biggest days in the community's calendar.
He told a story of when he did exhibit a sheep one year, he had the job of holding the sheep for the purpose of judging, when normally the animal would be held by others and not the owner. During the course of the judging, the judge made several less than favourable comments about the poor quality of the animal not realizing or knowing that Dad was the actual owner - needless to say, that was the last time that he exhibited sheep at the show!
When the community decided to get together a "folk museum" of old machinery and other equipment used in the early days of settlement Dad got right behind the project. He restored an old Hart Parr tractor to near original running condition and donated that to the cause and gave working demos with it.
In the early 1950's Dad upgraded their car from an old '20's rag-top Chevy to a brand new Standard Vanguard Phase 1, his first new car. It turned out to be one of his less-wise decisions. The car was OK when the weather was fine but on a wet, or even damp, road it was less than perfect. Many's the time I remember going to football or, worse still in the dark to the pictures, and one of the front tyres would hit a pot-hole with a bit of water in it (any more than about cupful seem to do it) and we'd splutter to a stop with wet wires. He'd have to get out and wipe them dry (with a bit of rag he kept under the seat for the job) and off we'd go again, sometimes no more than a few hundred yards. If it was raining it was usually a slow trip to anywhere! Although a man with the patience of Job, his patience ran out after the second winter and he up-graded to a Chrysler Plymouth, a lot more room for a growing family (and a lot less mud on his clothes).
Another car story involves the Plymouth and a trip to Venus bay on a hot Sunday. While enroute a strange noise could be heard coming from under the bonnet. On stopping to investigate and lifting the bonnet, a rather stressed chook was found sitting on the engine with its beak wide open begging for a drink and waiting to be rescued. It was put in a wheat bag found in the boot, and its head was stuck through a hole and placed in a cool spot under the car when we reached Venus. At the end of the day when it was time to go home it was discovered that the hen had laid an egg - Dad's comment was to wonder whether it was hard boiled or still soft!
In 1965 Dad and Lyell went pioneering when they went across to Western Australia to open up some new country SE of Pingrup.
When we were old enough and more or less independent, he and Mum bought a caravan and went caravanning for several weeks, most years, covering a large part of this great country of ours. Around 1985 he broadened his horizons when he and Mum went on a Farmers' tour of New Zealand, along with a group of other farmers and their wives, organized by Elders Travel.
A few years later they went on an extended tour of England and parts of Europe. It was while on this holiday that he tripped and fell down some steps while carrying the suitcases for two ladies sharing the same tour in Italy, and damaged his knee. It never really came good and he had a "dicky" knee from then on. We tried to talk him into having a knee-replacement operation but he would never consider it.
As well as a being a gentleman Dad was a gentle man. I suppose you could say he was "the salt of the earth". According to Wikipedia "salt of the earth" means someone decent, dependable and unpretentious; that describes Dad to a T. He was polite and courteous man and despite all his community activities he never looked for any acclamations for his work but was satisfied knowing within himself that he had done his bit for the community.
He certainly had a deep love of the earth and nature; the soil and the farming way of life. As well as farming being his occupation it was also his hobby; I'm sure he had an almost spiritual association with the land.
He lived by the adage "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I never heard him speak disparagingly of anyone. He would say, "If you haven't got anything good to say about someone, don't say anything at all". As a child growing up I never heard him use swear words, the strongest words I heard were "Blimey Charlie". I was surprised and amazed when I was 16 or 17 I heard him using the odd swear-word when things went wrong. I remember wondering where he learnt these naughty words that we, as teenagers, knew. But even then he rarely swore out loud, although Mum tells me that after he got his electric wheelchair he developed certain skills along those lines.
Another of Dad's sayings was "If something was worth doing it was worth doing properly". Mum says that didn't include washing up. It was a job he was no expert at but if anyone complained that "you missed a bit there" he just say, "That's OK, it'll come off on the tea towel!
A lot of little things come to mind from childhood: Dad kicking the footy with us between the gum trees and the oak tree, taking us on picnics to the salt lakes or Pinbong Reserve or Pygery Rocks, stopping at the dog-fence for a sandwich on the way to Venus Bay, taking his lunch out to the paddock during school holidays and being allowed to ride on the back of the combine for a few rounds.
I could go on but I won't. These are just a few of the thoughts that came to mind when putting this together. There are many stories that could be told and everyone here will have their own memories of Dad. He was a man who respected everyone and was, in turn, respected by all who knew him. As I said earlier he was the salt of the earth and his passing will leave a big gap in our lives.