Earlier this morning I got a call from my nephew who relayed the news that my brother Gary, his father, had passed away during the night…
Gary had been diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago, endured invasive surgery to remove part of the lung and then withstood rounds of chemotherapy. Initially, which is often the case he responded well to the treatment, but just over a year ago the relapsed began.
I’d been fortunate enough to visit Gary & Lynne on my last visit to Australia in December 2019. And although only a couple of days it was so nice to connect and just chat.
Unfortunately, given the border restrictions here within Australia I have been unable to visit any of my family since arriving back last November. This included visiting Gary his wife Lynne and their families who all live in Tasmania.
Although Gary was 16 years older than me, he had been an important role model in my life and someone who I’d always looked up to.
However, most importantly he was a loving husband to his wife Lynne of 54 years, a great dad to his boys Craig (Helen) and Glenn (Victoria) and grandfather to all his grandkids. He was a solid and dependable friend to all who knew him and someone that you could always depend on if you needed help or advice.
There is no question that he is already sorely missed…
Like most of us Gary’s life was also filled with twists and turns, here are a few of the most memorable stories from his life.
As a teen in Melbourne, he took up cycling, initially for the Carnegie Caufield Cycling club which is one of the powerhouses of Australian cycling. Over the course of his career, he competed in many of the Premier cycling events across Australia and won more than his fair share during his bright, yet short career.
His talent as a scratch cyclist drew lots of attention and he was selected for the Australian Olympic team to represent Australia at the 1964 Olympic games in Tokyo. However, after a falling out prior to the games with governing body of Cycling Australia he was relegated to the non-traveling reserve position.
Heartbroken and disgusted at the treatment he’d received retired at the peak of his career…
It took more than 30 years before he finally returned to sport he’d loved so much as a young man.
And wasn’t long before he was back up to riding 75 kms per day as part of his regular daily routine. And on weekends he took part in the local Launceston cycling competition and was a fierce and unrelenting competitor.
In fact, in the late 2000’s he won an Open Wheel race against all comers when he was well into his 60’s, beating out cyclists at the peak of their careers. Clearly he’d seen it all during his cycling days and was a master strategist knowing the right time to pull the trigger and sprint for the line…
He also passed the love of cycling onto his son Craig and wife Helen who, who along with Gary joined a local Launceston cycling club so they could compete in local road racing, time trials and sprint events.
I’d hate to guess how many thousands of kilometres he cycled over the course of his life but likely hundreds of thousands…
As a kid, my brothers and I rode one of his hand me down bikes, even for that period it was an incredibly fast bike. This 12 speed was set up with racing gears and race hand bars which for the time and in our town was a true novelty.
This was also the bike that I ultimately crashed as a 12-year-old and lost my two front teeth. Note to self – don’t race down a steep hill and make a sharp turn into a blind corner…as there are likely cars coming the other way. Oi vey!
Another memory I have is visiting Gary & Lynne as a teen at their home in Noble Park, which at the time was a new outer suburb of Melbourne, to help Gary build a pool deck. He’d taken a couple of days off work, and I was his labourer for the duration. We accomplished the job including me receiving a severe sunburn…ouch!
In the mid 1970’s Gary moved the family to Launceston in Tasmania where Gary took up part ownership of the Painters Pot.
I remember going on a football club trip to Launceston at the end of the 1982 season and was able to catch up with them during my visit.
In fact, that weekend I visited the Launceston Casino with my teammates and although not a gambler per se I did play a little Blackjack only to lose all $20. Now you can see why I don’t gamble!
In any event I was wearing a cream coloured sports jacket and for some reason I’d taken it off and placed on the back of a chair only to find it missing a short while later. I reported it missing to the manager and didn’t think I’d hear anything more about it…it was gone!
Early the next week I received a call to say that my jacket had been located and that it needed to be picked up at the Casino. I called Gary and asked him if he could drop by and pick it up for me then send it on to me. No worries – all done!
Upon receiving the package as I unwrapped it, it was clear that this wasn’t my jacket! In fact, nor was the $50 in the pocket.
Now surprisingly the jacket fit me perfectly so kept both the money and jacket. When I told Gary he was annoyed cos’ if he’d only know I would have had the jacket but not the $50.
With his passing it feels like I’ve reached another of those major life milestones, and not in a good way…
Such treasured memories – you will always be loved!
Rest in peace mate