OBITUARY: Remembering 'Pete' and his heart of gold

16th May 2017 6:05 PM
LIFE OF SERVICE: Peter was awarded the Emergency Services Medal by the Governor of Queensland for his community service. LIFE OF SERVICE: Peter was awarded the Emergency Services Medal by the Governor of Queensland for his community service.

PETER Taylor may have been a little bloke, but he had a big heart.

He first played his beloved rugby league for the Dalby Waratahs and later with the Millmerran representative rugby league side and was known as "the little bloke on the wing with the skinny chicken legs”.

Proud, honest and reliable are the qualities often shared when people speak of Peter, or Pete as he was often known.

A rugby league lover and coach, husband, stamp collector, community volunteer, father, grandfather and friend, Peter wore many many hats.

He was also a good neighbour and avid gardener and could often be found in his greenhouse tending to his favourite flowers: bromeliads, orchids and zygos, often talking to them the same way he did his grandchildren: Travis, Amber, Tyler, Emma and Bruce, James, Zara and Jaxon.

Born in Tamworth on October 8, 1937, he was the eldest child of George and Eva Taylor's five children and a brother to Patricia, Owen, Dennis and Nancye.

He spent his childhood in and around Tamworth with his siblings and parents, who followed work around the plains as shearers.

A holiday to Queensland when he was 18 marked the start of his life on the Darling Downs, which began at Dunmore, near Cecil Plains.

A double date to the movies led Peter to meet Gloria French and two years later, in 1959, they wed and moved into the married couple's quarters at Western Creek forestry.

In 1961, Peter became a father for the first time when daughter Joy was born.

In 1963, Peter was promoted in the forestry department and transferred to Injune where in 1964 his second child, Donna, was born.

In 1975, a long awaited third child, Scott, was born in Roma after several years of Peter and Gloria trying.

When his girls were still little, Peter became an active member of the fire brigade, Apex Club, school P&C and local swimming club.

It was the beginning of his ongoing service to the community, which continued until his time as controller of Chinchilla SES unit and patron and life member of Chinchilla Sharks Swimming Club.

Every week, Peter could be found at the swimming club helping out with putting in lane ropes, setting up chairs or giving advice to budding young swimmers on their strokes or finish.

Held in high regard by both children and their parents, he will always be remembered by the Sharks club for sounding his whistle and calling loudly at the end of each race: "Clear the water swimmers”.

Peter eventually managed the Injune cypress sawmills, while also leasing the local picture theatre with the family running the candy store.

The Taylor family often delighted in a game of "Malteser bowling”, rolling the confectionery down the walkway.

Peter was an honorary coach of Injune Swimming Club and known for his love of carnivals and interaction with the kids on club nights.

He later became a life member of the club.

In 1982, the Taylor family moved to Chinchilla, with Peter taking up the manager's position of a small cypress sawmill on Auburn Rd.

The afternoon trip home from the sawmill on pay day involved Peter calling in to the Commercial Hotel to drop the pay cheques off to the boys.

The weekly after-work chat with the Bruggeman brothers, Szepanowski brothers, Arthur Kleidon and Cecil Honnery was often a source of much laughter, stories of good times and tall tales.

A major flood in Chinchilla in 1982 was an unforgettable event for Peter who, along with the SES team, met with the then Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and travelled around town via boat surveying the impacts of the natural disaster.

In 1987, Peter and Gloria divorced and he later married Susan Dianne Cobb.

Sue's daughter Alisa was adopted by Peter and in 1990 he and Sue welcomed a son into the world - Nelson George Barnard.

When Peter was 78, he fully retired to his beloved garden at 21 Covington St, for which he won several awards for his home- engineered and built greenhouse.

Not entirely content with full retirement however, and in need of a Sunday hobby, he got involved with the mini rail train at Chinchilla Museum.

He was given the job of safety officer or "The Fat Controller” as he was affectionately known by local children.

Peter had a wonderful way with words and was known for his unique way of seeing the world through children's eyes.

Perhaps his greatest achievement was receiving the Emergency Services Medal, presented to him by the Governor of Queensland.

Peter was very proud and humbled to receive the award for his community services. He also received the Nev and Esme Harris award for his services to the community from the Rotary organisation and the Australia Day award for community service for the Western Downs.

He was a life member of the Chinchilla A&P association and had and greatly cherished his work with the Chinchilla Show Society in his later years.

Peter was a life member and patron of the Chinchilla Sharks Swimming Club and loved to coach the little ones who took the time to listen to him.

He knew swimming like he knew football, and he knew football like he knew his cypress pine logs and timber.

Up until his death, Peter's mind remained sharp. As he began this final chapter of his life, unable to overcome cancer one more time, his doctor jovially noted: Peter, you have had more lives than most cats.

He died on April 17.