FULL LIFE: Keith Locke enjoyed a long and fulfilling life.
FULL LIFE: Keith Locke enjoyed a long and fulfilling life.

Tribute: Keith Locke’s busy life was well lived

Keith Locke - October 24, 1927 - December 6, 2013

KEITH Locke was born on October 24, 1927, at the Warwick Thornbury Hospital to Noel and Flora Locke.

He was the first of their four children. Keith's parents operated a barber's shop in Palmerin St, Warwick.

While a man of relatively small stature, Keith epitomised the old saying, "you don't have to be a big man to be a big man". Keith was highly respected by everyone who was fortunate enough to come into his life.

Keith grew up in a family that had a passion for travel, which led to many adventurous trips.

One of the more notable was a trip to Sydney when he was one. This was made in a 1927 Whippet with numerous family members packed into the vehicle, which incidentally, had no boot for the luggage.

It was remembered that the number of tyre punctures that had to be repaired from horse shoe nails were too numerous to count. The trip took several days. The same trip today can be done in 10 hours.

Another example of the type of travelling conditions of the time when driving to Brisbane would include tyre chains when the weather was wet, and a cable winch if the crossing was in flood at Spicers Gap, as well as an overnight stopover in Brisbane, before beginning the return journey home to Warwick.

Keith attended Central School in Warwick for his primary schooling and went on to Scots College for his secondary education.

During the years of World War II and towards the end of his education, he was sent out to Toolburra with many of his peers.

Music was brought into his life from an early age and Keith did seven years of piano lessons which later included some lessons on the big pipe organ at St Andrew's Church in Warwick. Keith enjoyed a large variety of music over his life but his favourite was Jazz, notably Boogie-Woogie.

Keith's first job, at the age of 14, was with Lang and Walker Engineering Works as a striker for the blacksmith, who at the time was Fred Watts. This job involved swinging a 14 pound hammer on the Blacksmiths command.

After a period of complete and utter exhaustion Keith felt he was becoming quite competent at this process. This belief was strongly challenged when, upon Fred's command to strike the heated metal, as Keith swung the large hammer in an arc; Fred moved his head closer to the forge.

As Keith was unable to alter the progress of the hammer he looked on in horror as Fred was struck with what Keith believed at the time was going to be a fatal blow. Upon being struck to the ground, Fred raised himself up, plunged his head in a large trough of water, wiped away blood and water off his brow, resumed his previous position, and said to Keith, "Strike".

Terrifying stuff for a 14 year old - they bred them tough in those days.

Keith was to progress through the company to the position of foreman at the age of 23. Keith was instrumental in the development and production of the Lang and Walker corn picker, along with Arthur Lang, Barney Walker and a number of well-known local landowners who contributed to the initial design.

Lang and Walker's corn picker distribution area would eventually cover much of Eastern Australia as this machine was the first developed that was capable of picking and shelling corn in one pass. This was to have a huge impact on corn production in the area.

Keith and his family's lives could well have taken a completely different turn as Lang and Walker intended to begin production and open a branch in South Africa. They offered Keith the chance to travel to South Africa to co-ordinate this process and start the business there. Owing to circumstances beyond their control this proposal did not go ahead.

It was said by many clients of Lang and Walker that Keith was one of the finest exponents of his trade that they had ever come across, and he was to develop many long-term relationships with the clients who came from a wide cross section of the community and he retained a large number of these valued ties until he passed away.

During Keith's early employment with Lang and Walker, the owners noticed that he was making regular visits to the Motor Garage next door to Lang and Walker.

This garage was known as Baker Motors and an attractive young lady had recently begun working there. Her name was Joyce Butler and in 1952 they were to become Mr and Mrs Locke. They went on to have four children: David, Kerry, Tony and Peter.

The family lived in Braemar St in Warwick until 1965, when Keith suggested to Joyce that Warwick town was becoming too busy and he was concerned that they wouldn't be able to enjoy the kind of carefree childhood that he had enjoyed.

Keith proposed buying a farm for the family to move to. The property they found was "Chapel Rock" at North Branch Rd, Maryvale. Keith and Joyce fell in love with the property and its scenic views at first sight.

They bought the property after a considerable battle to obtain finance after being told by the bank they were ineligible owing to the fact that the farm was currently milking "two" cows fewer than the bank felt was viable for the farm to operate. They were consequently given the approval from the bank after purchasing the "two" cows and with the intervention from the local Member of Parliament on their behalf.

Keith returned to part-time work to help supplement the income from the farm after being approached by the Lang and Walker proprietors.

He worked on the farm in various capacities until the very advanced years of his life. The property remains in his family today.

Keith's hobbies in his early years included motorcycle riding, shooting, fishing, camping and music. He was a budding inventor and produced many and varied interesting items to make life easier for people and to ease the burden of work on the farm.

In his retirement Keith began woodworking and many of his family members have valued pieces of furniture which he proudly made for them. Among all of his friends and family Keith was well known for his love of children and he had a

reputation for always making time for the children in his life.

For example "Pop" was always the first person to climb in the back of the ute with the kids when going on a family trip up the paddock. Keith also took great enjoyment in making a wide variety of toys for the many children in his life, using the considerable skills he had acquired in his lifetime.

Keith always took great pride and joy in his grandchildren and great grandchildren and their many achievements in life.

Keith lived a very happy and fulfilling life including 61 years of marriage with his beloved wife Joyce, with almost 48 of those years spent on the family property "Chapel Rock" at Maryvale.

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