Jack Richards was born on July 3rd 1928 at Morwell. His family lived at Budgeree and as Jack grew he attended the Budgeree school until war broke out and then he went to Hazelwood Estate school for one year. At the age of 14 he went to Melbourne and worked for the Victorian Railways for five years and during this time he boarded at both Elsternwick and Armadale. Wages during those years were five pounds a week, board was three pounds, two shillings and sixpence a week and fares to work were seventeen shillings and sixpence a month. The balance of his pay was used to clothe himself. While in Melbourne he joined the Naval Cadets and also attempted to join the Army, but was rejected, due to his age.
Jack shifted to Boolarra at the age of 19 and was employed by the local Butter Factory. Wages were very good at twelve pounds per week. After a short time he decided that working indoors was not for him, so he left to work for the Country Roads Board and after only nine months was offered a job driving a cream truck for the Boolarra Butter factory. He accepted this position and continued to work at this job even after the factory was sold to Mirboo North. When the bulk milk was started Jack had the privilege of collecting the first milk tanker from Newcastle and driving it to many farms in the area for ‘pick up’. While working at the factory Jack became a stock and station agent for Gippsland and Northern and started cattle sales in Boolarra. After 20 years with the factory he drove a bread delivery bus for six months. A full time job was offered with Gippsland & Northern (G&N) in Meeniyan and Jack worked there before starting cattle sales at Mirboo North.
Jack chuckled as he shared the following story. One night at the Mirboo North Saleyards, after being “oh so careful” to securely lock all cattle in the yards, ready for next day’s sales, Jack and his crew headed home late for their evening meal. Later that night the phone rang and advised him that all the cattle had escaped! Oh no! Back to Mirboo North – where were the cattle? Yes, you guessed it – they were safely grazing in the Cemetery. Jack and crew had to round them up in the dead of night (excuse the pun) and re-pen them!
After the closure of the Boolarra Saleyards Jack become an auctioneer at Traralgon yards, before deciding to form his own business with his wife Lorna, called Richards Livestock, retiring at the age of 70.
In 1964 Jack was appointed Justice of the Peace and over many years has continued to serve the public in numerous ways.
He played football, firstly with a Morwell church team, and then with Boolarra. He and Ray Robbins formed the Boolarra seconds team. He played tennis with Boolarra, cricket with Budgeree and lawn bowls with Boolarra.
He has conducted numerous charity auctions for Mirboo North, Boolarra and Budgeree communities and also was a member of Boolarra Fire Brigade and Hall committees.
At the age of 27 Jack married Lorna; they had two sons who are now married. He has six grand children and one great grandchild.
Adorning the walls in Jack’s study is a multitude of certificates and awards for his community involvement. Listed below are just a few:
- 20 years service award with Boolarra Water Board plus a certificate of appreciation for same.
- Two certificates from Boolarra Fire Brigade.
- Year of volunteer’s thank you.
- Outstanding service with Boolarra Cemetery Trust.
- Certificate of thanks – Boolarra Primary School.
- 3 Nomination Certificates for Senior Citizen of the Year.
These awards and many more speak volumes for Jack’s willingness and generosity toward the many charities and community committees.
Jack is still active and derives great pleasure from his fishing trips with his mates to the Bemm River and has a fishermen’s prayer hanging on his wall.
Lord give me strength to catch a fish,
So big, that even I,
When speaking of it to my friends,
May never need to lie.
On Jack’s 80th birthday in 2008, he was presented with a Community Excellence Award with the following words on it:
An all round great fella,
Friend to many, enemy of none,
Supporter of many local clubs and organisations over many years,
A cheerful, salt-of-the-earth bloke,
Jack says he has had a great life with no regrets, has enjoyed excellent health until recently, requiring heart surgery last November. His recovery has been complete and he now has his health back.
On summing up this story, my thoughts are:
A wonderful man! A wonderful life!
A man to be admired! Thanks mate!