IN 1982 Geoff Carr was named Rochester Citizen of the Year.
It was a fitting tribute but could just as easily have been Rochester Citizen of the Generations because his legacy to his community is already enjoyed by his peers, their children and grandchildren – and will be for generations to come.
The 93-year-old was remembered with memorial and graveside services on December 23 after he died in Rochester on December 19.
But the Geoff Carr story of a quiet man imbued with an astonishing work ethic that was the hallmark of this proud farmer, husband, father, grandfather and neighbour began in 1924.
Celebrant Ruth Turpin told mourners they would be joining to “honour his memory with simple sincerity as we recognise the extent of experience, wisdom and his commitment to improving and assisting the community of Rochester”.
“We will also recognise the love of his family, the great enjoyments of his life,” she said.
“Geoff and Merle raised their three sons – Colin, Peter and Stephen – while living that life on the land that only farmers really understand.
“For these boys, it was a total package of supporting and nurturing; animals and machinery, challenges of things to repair and create after the pressure of harvest and the year-round responsibility of growing livestock to their full potential and getting them off to market.
“It was a great pleasure to him that they followed in his footsteps and farmed alongside him and Merle.
“They shared equipment but he was open to new techniques and innovations and he was wise enough to give them their own responsibilities and decisions.
“The boys all joined him on the farming ventures after school, developing and teaching their skills together, they have since gone in different directions but the family ties and connections always remained.”
Geoff’s home for the past six years has been the Rochester Nursing home, where he enjoyed the company and the care of all those involved in that wonderful work.
That included his daughter-in-law Sherrell, and their ability to share their own style of humour.
But before that he was the most sought-after treasurer for the many organisations with which he had been involved – his books and ledger work perfect and balanced.
Roles he maintained until the dementia that was to take hold of his wonderful mind made it impossible for him to continue.
There were patches of long-term memories and recognition that remained as the gems of those fading years. And of course his response when his boys visited and asked what he had been doing for the day. It was always “bugger all”.
Geoff was recognised as was always one of life’s true “gentlemen” and like so many farmers of his vintage he could turn his hand to most anything and would work out a solution or a creation with the resources available to him.
In their early days he and Merle share-farmed as well as working their own property, The Gums at Diggora. Geoff also took on fencing contracting and in the late 1960s and early ’70s did a lot of hay contracting – buying and selling while the boys helped load many a small square bale.
His father died when Geoff was in his mid-teens and his oldest brother Vic took on the responsibility of the farm.
When Geoff met Merle Henderson at a local dance, neither his dancing ability or his charm made any great impression on her – at first.
Their life was busy and as the boys arrived, Geoff became involved in all their associated activities with the energy and commitment that drove him.
Local communities thrive on stalwarts such as Geoff was; from using his farm equipment and expertise to build and level ground works at schools, junior football and cricket, swimming and scouting clubs.
More often than not he also held executive positions, especially those of secretary and treasurer.
He was just as enthusiastic in professional farming bodies, including the VFF, the Rochester silo committee and the Eppalock Advancement League.
He was also extensively involved with the district fire brigade, Neighbourhood Watch, the Echuca Technical School council and, for more than 30 years, with the Rochester Agricultural and Pastoral Association.
The Campaspe golf club was created under his guidance, just in time to become his second home during his retirement and he dedicated countless hours laying sprinklers, planting trees, mowing, clearing, irrigating and applying for grants.
And he wasn’t even a golfer.
But it became so important to him he even went there in the dead of night to chase off some young hoons who had decided it was a good place to do wheelies – it’s a given they will also remember him.
Colin and Jenny, Peter and Sherrell and Stephen and Ruth blessed Geoff and Merle with grandchildren Laura, Bradley, Matthew, Daniel, Larna, Chantelle, Michael, Ayden, Trent and Ryan.
Another generation to benefit from this quiet man who built so much – for the present and future.