Beloved resident moving on
One chapter nears an end as another one begins for Tatura’s beloved Frank Hooper.
As a well-known community member who has spent most of his 88 years in Tatura, it is with mixed emotions that Mr Hooper says goodbye to the town as he looks to call Echuca Community for the Aged his new home.
‘‘I’m thrilled, but I’m also scared because it’s something different you know,’’ Mr Hooper said.
‘‘It’s a big change, but I’m looking forward to it and hoping to God I’ll like it when I get there.’’
Although Mr Hooper plans to make his move in the near future, he will take with him decades of memories.
Mr Hooper said one of his most significant achievements throughout his time in Tatura came about by accident.
‘‘I suppose my greatest achievement came about by accidentmore than anything else — I was captain of the Fire Brigade for quite a few years,’’ he said.
He said a disturbance within the fire brigade occurred when he was just 21 years old that saw a majority of the older members leave the brigade.
‘‘And I was the fool that agreed to take the job on as captain,’’ he said.
Besides being the
bri- gade’s captain for about eight years, Mr Hooper was a skilled athlete in a range of different sports including golf, tennis, table tennis and football.
As a keen golfer at the time, Mr Hooper was one of few members who volunteered his time in getting Tatura’s Hill Top Golf and Country Club up and running in 1965.
‘‘I used to go up there nearly every night after work and weed the greens, getting them all ready to play on,’’ he said.
It was not too long after Hill Top officially opened before he made the most of the fresh fairways and became the third person to get a hole-in-one on the course at age 36.
AlthoughMr Hooper, now 88, has passed his days of competing in sports, he has been committed to keeping fit with a walk each day.
Tatura resident and close friend Rodney Dellar said he first crossed paths with Mr Hooper 10 years ago while both men were out on their morning walk through Cussens Park.
Mr Dellar said the pair exchanged ‘‘G’days’’ for a number of days before he stopped to ask Mr Hooper’s name.
After some time he saw in the newspaper that Mr Hooper’s wife, Valerie, who had been suffering from illness had died.
Following the read Mr Dellar paid a visit to Mr Hooper offering his condolences.
He said since that day the pair, who shared opposite interests and opinions, have developed a strong friendship that has seen them share in daily walks and ongoing banter.
‘‘He’s one of those guys who’s down to earth and just really easy to get on with,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ll miss our conversations, our banter and our walks.’’
Also among the many Tatura residents who have grown to know and love Mr Hooper is Tatura newsagent Maddi Rijs.
Ms Rijs said she also connected with Mr Hooper after his wife died and he took on her weekly visit to the newsagency.
She said before long the pair discovered that Mr Hooper had been good friends with her Poppy (grandfather), playing tennis and golf together, before he died.
‘‘My Poppy had died, so Frank sort of took on a bit of a grandfather role.’’
Ms Rijs, being heavily involved in sports herself, said he had always kept up with her sporting achievements and cheered her on.
‘‘He was always so supportive, encouraging and proud of everything I did in the community,’’ she said. ‘‘Just like a grandfather. ‘‘I am truly going to miss seeing him every week.
‘‘He is such a great friend to me.’’
Mr Hooper has been living independently since the passing of his wife five years ago and said that he felt now was the right time to have care available for him.
He said with his four children spread out across the country, he looked forward to seeing more of his daughter, Anne, who lived in Echuca.
‘‘Echuca seemed the best thing because it’s close to my daughter,’’ he said.
Mr Hooper said he would certainly miss the friendly people of Tatura, but he hoped to meet some new friends who might join him in his daily walks.
An afternoon tea will be held at Mr Hooper’s house on Sunday, November 11, from 2.30 pm.
Any community members who wish to attend and take part in sending Mr Hooper off are welcome to attend.
Fond farewell: Tatura resident Frank Hooper says goodbye to his home town as he moves to Echuca to be close to his daughter.