Aviator leaves lasting legacy
PEOPLE came from far and wide to celebrate the life of Robert Douglas Behrend, who was farewelled on Saturday, 10 days after he died in a light aircraft crash in Central Queensland.
Mr Behrend was born on May 4, 1960, and immigrated to Australia from America in 1996 with his wife Lynne and their three daughters Bonnita, Sarah and Lisa.
His wife and children, his father, his friend Kelvin Hutchinson and his siblings were among those who addressed people gathered at Massie Aerodrome to bid farewell to a man known as the Yankee with a Yarn.
The ceremony was led by Mr Behrend's middle daughter Sarah, who started by asking anyone wearing a neck tie to take it off because her father hated them.
She went on to explain the influence Mr Behrend had on her life, as a father, friend, teacher and confidant.
Eldest daughter Bonnita described how her father coached her through her toughest time, and how he never turned his back on her.
Lisa described herself as Daddy's little girl and expressed her heartache at her children not growing up with their grandfather.
Lisa's husband Ben Kruger explained how he met Mr Behrend through a friend before spending time with the family and eventually marrying Lisa.
He fondly called his father-in-law Dad and said when he asked Mr Behrend for Lisa's hand in marriage, he was told he had better ask her.
Everyone who spoke at the memorial talked of a family man with a deep faith and a love of adventure.
Good friend and former student Mr Hutchinson said after the recent death of another local aviator, Peter Frith, he and Mr Behrend had discussed their hope other flying enthusiasts would not give up their dreams out of fear.
On Saturday Mr Hutchinson and Mrs Behrend both said Mr Behrend would feel the same way now, and he would want people to use the accident to learn more about safety in aviation.
Mrs Behrend spoke of her husband's love of hearing rain on the roof and said it was fitting the rain was coming down on the roof of Hangar C as he was being laid to rest.
While many tears were shed for the loss of a father, husband, son, brother and as one friend put it, “all-round good bloke,” there were a few laughs as siblings recounted Mr Behrend's childhood antics and adventures.
Mr Behrend had a talent for anything to do with mechanics and worked as a fitter and turner, truck driver and bee keeper before pursuing his love of aviation.
He was instrumental in bringing chequer-plate tool boxes from the USA to Queensland and was pleased the idea took off in Australia with boxes now on many utes and caravans.
His final business enterprise was the Warwick Flying School at the Warwick Aerodrome, where he was chief flying instructor.
Many will remember Mr Behrend for his insatiable love of learning and unassuming ways.
His genuine love for others will live on in the memories of the many lives he touched in the community.