‘Dad you were one in a million. We stand in awe’
THE funeral of beloved Gympie region country gentleman Alain Henderson was livestreamed due to COVID-19 restrictions on Mary 29.
The powerful tribute paid by his family in his eulogy was read out for the benefit of the many people unable to attend due to those restrictions.
The following is an abridged version of that tribute as prepared and spoken by one of Mr Henderson’s children:
Alain was born in Cooroy but Gympie was his home. His parents Charles and Jessie had a magnificent traditional Queenslander in Wickham Street which I’m sure some of you will
remember as it is now the site of the Gympie Muster Motel.
His father was a true gentleman and his mother a very elegant, perfectly groomed lady.
Together they instilled their strong beliefs into Dad. He had perfect manners, dressed impeccably, was punctual, articulate, respectful, and his morals were strong and true.
The property had four blocks of land and during the war the Lighthorse Brigade asked if they could fence a section off and build some stables for their horses.
This is where Alain developed his love of horses.
Each day he would feed and groom them and was eventually the soldiers taught him
how to ride.
They moved the horses on after the war but gifted him with an official light horseman’s hat in recognition of his work with their prized horses.
It was one if his most treasured possessions and in Dad’s honour David is
wearing it today.
His need to be surrounded by horses and all things country instigated his decision to become a stockman for Wallace Logan on “Warrinilla” where he spent several years droving and breaking in horses. He always spoke very fondly of those years but unfortunately or fortunately they came to an end when he spotted a stunning, fun loving girl by the name of Barbara Austin at the local Saturday night dance.
Together they shared a passion for dancing. They married in 1954, and it wasn’t long before
they welcomed their first child, myself, followed by Jeffrey, Julianne and David to
complete his family.
Alain was the ultimate salesman and expanded his career to become an A-Grade Stock
and Station Auctioneer. He always did his best to achieve the highest price for his clients and his expertise on the microphone did not go unnoticed.
It lead to him being invited to do the commentary at the Gympie Show some 50 years ago. That was fabulous for him, but it also instigated our mandatory presence at every Gympie Show until we all grew up.
Dad was so very proud of his family and Mum being an accomplished seamstress, hand made us all a new outfit every year which was always very exciting until we had to meet, actually b
Once the formalities were over it was straight down to Side Show Alley where we would all sit in the ferris wheel to watch him call the fire works.
Dad’s path was then set in stone and the microphone was in his firm grip where it stayed until the present time. As a young boy he was a Christian Brothers football player representing Gympie many times before he became a the best (according to him) referee in Gympie.
How that changed our footy outings. He went from being cheered by the crowd to being abused for not giving them the decision they wanted.
When he retired from refereeing he took his refereeing skills from the field to the lounge, became an avid footy watcher, and called the obstructions, shepherd, penalties etc etc,,.before the ref had a chance ..and if they made the wrong decision it would be on.
We would all evacuate the lounge with expediency. One thing you can always say about Alain was everything had to be fair and square. No ifs or buts.
His love for football has continued through the generations with his sons and now all of his great grandsons playing representative football. On his 88th birthday, one month ago, he recorded a video telling them how to play the game.
“Hit them up hard....tackle around the ankles....run like the wind .....and never let anyone bluff you” ....great words of wisdom from their pop.
Alain’s father owned a car detailing business where he would help polish and detail cars. This started his passion for motor vehicles and his need for speed.
His first purchase was an Valoset 250 racing bike which he rode hard and far too fast.
Unfortunately, one of his best mates was killed doing the same thing so Dad
sold his bike immediately and moved on to cars.....lots of cars.
He has owned every brand, every colour, convertibles, four wheel drives, utes...you name it he’s had it.
He currently has three cars but his favourite is his 1992 Holden Rodeo.
It has no power steering, no automatic windows, no central locking, no air conditioning, is a manual and takes five minutes to tick over. So at heart, “the showman” is really a simple man. It never mattered to him if you were old, young, rich, poor, a champion, a beginner,
strong or frail...he saw value in everyone and made time for everyone.
As a father, grandfather and great grandfather we have been blessed to have him as our own. He was staunchly loyal to all of us and we have so many wonderful memories of days with him particularly up the beach. He would have the car packed with boards, food, esky, fishing gear well before we were out of bed.
Then the whip would be cracking from 5.30am. He’d hose the
bedroom windows - no sleep-ins were allowed. If we were leaving at 7am it was
on the knocker. We’d pile into the landie and then be on our way. He was
always a trickster so much fun. Once up the beach we would unload, set up
and then he would stand guard convinced a shark would take one of us.
This was the one and only animal that terrified Dad. Lunch was always a quick
affair because we had to endure Dad’s jokes.
We heard the same joke 30 times and every time it got longer. It was hilarious. In the recent years I was providing him with new short jokes but even then they were twice as long
when he repeated them.
The last few years have seen Dad’s health deteriorate due to renal failure but his unbreakable spirit and love for his family and friends did not wain. We desperately tried to convince him to slow down but that was simply out of the question. We stand in awe of his dedication, courage, energy, spirit, and brilliant memory.
Unlike our mother, who passed away suddenly, we all had time to spend with Dad until the very end. Wonderful memories have been created by this one in a million man.....and he will stay in our hearts forever.
We exchanged goodbyes and we also told him of the hundreds of messages we had received prior to him passing away. He knew he was loved, respected, admired and left with us
with the same dignity and grace he lived by.
Your final request was that we not cry....oh Daddy...how could we not. Your heart beats in each and in every one us.
Today we have united to say a final goodbye, celebrate and applaud the achievements of a great Australian, a true country gentleman, our father, grandfather and great grandfather. The one and only, never to be forgotten “legendary” Alain Henderson.