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Eulogy: Ern Elias 1918-2005

Ernest Rupert Elias died 11 December 2005 in Albury, New South Wales. The following tributes were offered at his funeral...

Eulogy from Ern's funeral service

Tribute from his son John

Ernest Elias, fondly known to everyone as Ern, or Ernie, was born on the 24th of September 1918 in Gundagai - first child of Joseph and Gladys Elias.

His father, Joe, had gone to Gundagai to work with his brother who had established a refrigeration and ice works there.

The family moved to Albury in the early 1920's where his father ran a store at Hume where the Hume Weir was being constructed. He also ran a taxi service for the workers at the site, conveying them to Albury when necessary.

As well as attending to his studies, it was expected that, as the eldest son, Ern would assist his father, firstly delivering blocks of ice throughout the Albury district and later helping his dad spread superphosphate on various properties in the area; Ern used to tell us of his father driving the truck through the long grass in the paddocks, hitting a stump and sending him flying off the truck.

When he was older he did an apprenticeship as a Baker / Pastry cook at Thiel's Bakery in Albury. He later joined the army, serving as a member of the catering corps in both New Guinea and on Bougainville. [29/46 Battalion]

He met Beryl Roy in Cairns where she was nursing. After he was de-mobbed they returned to Albury where they were married.

For the next few years, Ern was involved in the wool and skin buying business with his uncle Lou McGuire and they travelled extensively throughout the state.

Ern and Beryl had two children and moved to a new home in North Albury, where they lived for the last 56 years.

Ern then worked on the railways in Albury before moving to Bandiana Army Depot, where he finished his working life as a storeman.

He was a fierce believer in the rights of the worker and was always ready to “debate” those issues, which were important to him.


Click for larger view

He enjoyed reading and loved to quote from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. He gave a copy of this to his daughter Dennice on her first birthday and it has always been very special to her.

Ern loved his fishing, and the children have many special memories of days spent with friends down at the river.

When Ern and Beryl first moved to North Albury, there was a photo published in the Border Morning Mail of their beautiful new garden, showing everyone how quickly a lovely new garden could be established. Ern always loved the garden and loved to see his favourite Mr Lincoln red rose flowering outside the kitchen window.

Ern had four grand children and three great grand children. He loved to spend time with them and was always interested in what they were doing. When they were young he spent lots of time making bikes for them from bits and pieces he had collected. They will all miss spending time with Ernie.

Many people will remember Ern's willingness to always assist anyone who needed a helping hand.

When we were going through Ern's prayer book we found this little verse, which he had cut out:

"I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again"

Ernie truly lived this philosophy.

He wasn't the easiest person to live with, and like the rest of us he had faults. But he also had his good points.

It's easy to judge a person when you don't fully understand them. Dad tried not to judge people; he'd have his say if he thought something was wrong, and then get on with life. I'm here to talk about the good times, and we did have some.

Some of my earliest memories of dad were when I was probably about 6 or 7. He would come home, often late at night after a few sherbets, and he always had Columbine caramels or Toblerone chocolates with him. Being kids we loved him for that.

Other good times I remember were with dad and Alan Duell getting into our little Fiat 2-door, and going down to Weidner's, fishing and craying. A small car, and I mean a small car, with three bodies in it plus all our fishing and craying gear must have been a sight; I know how tight a fit it was in the back of that car, and it got tighter when we caught fish and/or crays.

Another time dad and I were fishing and there was a heck of a ruckus at the car. On looking over the riverbank I watched amazed as a horse reared up and attacked the poor little Fiat. Dad of course chased the horse off. It's these memories that I will cherish forever.

There was also the time dad "got a bit stroppy" after a bit of a birds nest on his reel and threw everything, fishing rod and all, into the river. Then had to go and get the boat and fish it out of the river because he thought it was one he had had a lend of. We new better but weren't game to tell him - it was one of his own.

I don't remember Dad at home much when I was young, but I do believe that he did in his own way love us.

I have been surprised at how easily the memories about dad have come back.

There are many, many more. Learning to drive, hay carting, dad carrying me into hospital when I carved my knee open on a steel shed at home - these are just a few that come to mind.

Dad saving my life is another one. When I was working at Chapy Weidner's home, the tractor I was on decided to roll down the hill backwards, I missed a gear and the brakes. I can still remember the look on dad's face as he got between the front and back wheels of the tractor and running with me, yelling what to do, and helping steer the tractor so that it went around the side of the hill, instead of straight down it and rolling at the bottom.

Dad's biggest asset was his heart and possibly his biggest fault; he would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it, and seldom commented after doing so. Sometimes after doing this, he was let down by the people he had helped.

I've had my say on the passing of a father and an era, and the loss of a huge wealth of knowledge and history, which can never be replaced. Dad saw and did things that will never be seen or done ever again.


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