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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eulogy-Dud Foweraker

Dud at his favourite River Red Gum in the Chambers Creek area.He estimated it was about 800 years old.

Dud giving out wisdom on banks of Hunchee Creek

Eulogy-Dud Foweraker

Dud Foweraker died on 5/3/10. He was my much loved father in law.I presented the following eulogy that was formed by family members at his Renmark funeral service on Wed 10/3/10.


RENMARK 10/3/10

On behalf of Dud’s family and extended family, and in particular his wife Audrey, I would like to welcome you all here. (It is a wonderful thing to see so many here.)

(I am sure you are here because Dud has touched your lives at some time or other and it is greatly appreciated. He would however be embarrassed that so many are here.He was a humble man)

Thank you to all who have already visited and contacted the family and helped to prepare for the day.

It has come my way and to Rob as sons in law, to pay tribute to, and remember Dud. It is not an easy task as here is a life that has been lived to the full in his own unique way, shunning the limelight but never backward in commenting on life as he saw it. He has been a huge influence on his family and the Riverland community and even people further a field.

Dudley Graeme Foweraker was born in Renmark on the 8th Jan 1919 on the corner of Thurk and Fifteenth street.I believe the house is still there.His parent were Leslie Foweraker and Amy who was previously a Joslin. He had an older sister in Viv and a younger brother Noel. All are now deceased.

His first home where he lived his early years was at the end of Goolwa street in Boxtree scrub and from there he moved to Chaffey in the pine and cattlebush country near the boundary of Calperum station in a low hessian whitewashed house.His love of nature was born while playing with caterpillars, frogs, sleepy lizards and rabbits. They then moved to Renmark Ave when he was to begin his education leaving school at 17.

He married Audrey Rosenberg on 2nd October 1942 and they had 3 children Lesley, Helen and Richard.

He first worked in a Grocer Shop(Servwell) for 17/6d per week ($1.75) and selling insurance for T. and G. (9 years) and ,Harry Clarke’s grocery store(10 years) and while there was approached by Macrow and Sons to manage their Renmark Branch.

His dream was always starting his own nursery and he started establishing that while working at Macrows and the beginnings of Avenue Nurseries was in 1955. Of course in 1956 the Murray River Flood put a dampener on a lot of things for a while. (pun intended)

In his own writings he says the main family friends in the early days were the Richardsons, Yates and Martins. Of course there have been many others counted as friends since those days.

Dudley Foweraker; Husband, Father , Father in law, Grand Father , Great Grand Father, Conservationist, Nurseryman, Philosopher, Author, Ornithologist, Field Naturalist, Historian, Champion of the Murray River, Letter Writer,Ball Room Dancer,Musician, Table tennis player, and, sometimes, a bit out of sorts because he was in a lot of pain.

Dud was a self taught in all of these things and had some amazing gifts.

He was always in wonder of the world around us and just through observation and thinking things through, he built up an enormous amount of knowledge and understanding, particularly of the world of nature.

When I first visited the Foweraker household on Renmark Avenue , as an already bird and nature enthusiast, I thought I had entered a small version of paradise when I walked out the back door to see the bird aviaries, trees, shrubs and plant nursery all in very well kept and organised order

For the latter years of his life he and Audrey have shared an even more wonderful place on the outskirts of Renmark , their own minature national park and self contained eco system of mallee scrub. Cathy and Richard and David have also shared that paradise in recent years.

Richard re established Avenue Nurseries again in that time.At the moment because of the drought the Nursery is closed.

Over the years Dud began to hand feed a family of thrushes on the property and they continued to bring their generations of young to share the experience and then the willy wagtails and blackbirds jumped on the bandwagon as well not to forget the ever growing flock of top knot pigeons and doves that he fed each day calling them in his own distinctive way and also mimicking their calls. He firmly believed birds had their own languages as complex as ours.

The memories we as a family have of Dud’s life are many and I am sure many here could also recount having fascinating conversations with Dud and wanting to absorb as much as they can.

He was very law abiding, never tolerated the thought of doing the wrong thing and never wanted to embarass anyone by his behaviour.

Dud had lots of ideals.

One was, “it isn’t music unless you can whistle to it.”

Dud was a terrific pianist but played entirely by ear.Audrey too played the piano well.

The family have many fond memories of sing a longs around the piano.Lesley and Helen said one of their favourites of that time was “Buttons and bows.”

He loved to hear Lesley and Helen playing duets over the years whenever they were in Renmark.

Another favourite activity for Dud and Audrey was playing cards. They were great Khun Kahn 500 rivals and shared many laughs together over a game and all the score sheets are still available for the statisticians to peruse.

Dud had an amazing work ethic and was very frustrated when over recent years he could do very little physically.

It was then he started to cultivate his writing gift a little more than he had done in the past .

I know many appreciated his recent contributions of memories of days gone by in the Murray Pioneer.

He wrote those articles often with pen clasped in two hands as he could not stop his hand from shaking.

He also wrote a small collection of nature stories which was his way of wanting to get a message out to today’s school children about protecting the environment.

Many thanks to Tony Hersey who put then together and did the illustrations.

They are very special to us.

His first one called Puddin was written in 1946 when he was 27.

Rob and I will be reading some extracts from some of those stories shortly.

Dud used to keep us enthralled with his knowledge and discussions but literally sometime had himself and us in stitches.

He didn’t believe in wasting money on something new and was a firm believer in repairing and patching trousers.

On a visit to our house in Adelaide for a medical check up about a year ago, he decided to put a patch on a trademark pair of his khaki trousers. He was sitting on a chair in our kitchen sewing on a patch on his trousers while he was wearing them.

He finished the job went out of the room came back and complained his leg was itching. -------It was then that he discovered he had not only sewn the patch on his trousers but his leg also.

Dud used to say he didn’t need to read books as the natural world was a book to him and that was all he needed.

In recent years he did tend to read more often and always the newspapers. Over many years he has built an extensive scrapbook record of newspaper clippings of things that interested him about the Murray, conservation and the environment.

Dud was an expert on plants and trees and advisor to many on what trees to plant where. Many of the trees in Renmark were planted on his recommendation and many people in local councils and committees sought his advice.

He established his own Nursery business and for many years it was the main one in the Riverland. It only ever shut on Saturday afternoons and it was a family ritual to head for the bush on those time outs. Later on in retirement he was a volunteer worker at Richard and Cathy’s Avenue Nursery and really enjoyed helping out and meeting new customers and advising them.

A favourite Foweraker place over the years has been lake Merrittee and Calperum Station, home of the biosphere these days.

He used to in his younger days after knocking off from work on a Friday night In Renmark ,where he worked in a grocery shop, hop on his bike with a mate ,usually Alan martin, still dressed in their work suits, and ride to Lake Merrittee and camp the whole weekend and then ride back again.

It was out there where he gained a lot of his knowledge of birds and all the rest of the habitat.

Later Audrey and his friend’s wives joined them on these camping expeditions to lake merrittee and then later on the children and their families. Many a chop picnic was enjoyed there and other favourite places in the bush.

He could not understand how much we needed to take oon a picnic-As far as he was concerned all you needed to take on a picnic was “a few damn biscuits in a bag” and if you camped there all that you needed was a hip hole in the sand.

He used to share stories of people who had perished out there including a man called Tyndall whose grave used to be marked by a wooden cross but it has now been swallowed up by time. He is buried beneath some old native pines where he died.

Also when camped there as a family he used to tell us all, about the legendary but real hermit of the riverland called possum and say: “he could even be watching us now.”

Lesley and Helen and Richard grew up with their Dad as great birdlover who was always nursing some injured bird that had been brought to him.

They marvelled at his bird’s egg collection and there were always sick birds in the laundry. They remember cockies with no feathers and he taught them to stroke the bird’s gullet to help them get their oatmeal down.

Dudley was a great influence on all of us. His Children and partners and their childern and partners.

Richard in particular remembers the most important thing his Dad passed on to him was that the best things in life are free. They are all around us.

David has had the privilege of being the only grandchild actually living in Renmark who has had the benefit directly of his grandad as a mentor and has gained a great interest in the things special to him.

I will miss Dud greatly as we would quite often go out in the bush whenever we could get here and shared many wonderful times and absorbing discussions.

Taud Edmonds also took Dud out in the bush in recent years although Dud was always a bit worried about Taud’s go anywhere driving policy.Taud has been a great friend and support to Dud.

Dudley of course had a wonderful partner and wife in Audrey just about all of his life. They have been a wonderful team and Audrey, Mum, Grannie we just love you so very much for the person you are to all of us and your devotion and support and love for Dud for all these years. I know there a lots of your friends here also who will say amen to that.

We as his family are so thankful for all he taught us and shared with us about his beloved bush.

Mallee trees, purples,everlasting daisies, Murray Lillies, red dirt and blue bush and especially the birds.

How blessed we have been.

To Dud we love you very much and will never forget you.

Dud had no doubts about there being life beyond this earthly existence and of him having a creator.He said his church was the world around him.

I believe we can take comfort in knowing his Creator loved him even more than we ever could.

May we all know God’s wonderful blessings, His love and comfort at this time and the peace He gives.

Please feel free to share your memories of Dud with family members and each other after when we have a cup of tea or coffee and some refreshments.

Rob and I are now going to share some readings as promised and Rob has also written a tribute poem.
Dud hand feeding a Thrush at the back door
Watching the birds feed at home

I took this photo in the 1970's when we were rescuing Koalas from a flooded Paringa Paddock