Proser­pine com­mu­nity mourns loss of a friend

Whitsunday Times - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

THIRD gen­er­a­tion Proser­pine cane farmer Ed­ward Dray has died do­ing what he loved most – tend­ing his land.

The 81-year-old farmer, hus­band, fa­ther, brother, grand­fa­ther and great-grand­fa­ther, was found ly­ing on the ground near a still-run­ning trac­tor at his Yar­ra­man Park cane farm and cat­tle sta­tion, just south of Proser­pine, at about 5pm on Wed­nes­day.

His body was dis­cov­ered by rel­a­tive and em­ployee Ge­of­frey Read, after it was no­ticed he was no longer work­ing the cane and had not been seen for about an hour.

Ed­ward’s old­est son Chris Dray said at this stage it was un­clear how his fa­ther had died.

“The trac­tor was still run­ning in re­verse – we don’t know what hap­pened, but they think it could have been a heart at­tack,” he said.

Ed­ward Joseph Dray was born on May 28, 1933.

He grew up on a cane farm near Brandy Creek with his sis­ter Phyl­lis and brothers Ge­of­frey, Michael and Fred­er­ick, oth­er­wise known as ‘Dick’, who went on to be­come a chair­man of the Proser­pine Mill.

Ac­cord­ing to Chris, farm­ing was all his fa­ther ever wanted to do.

“He was driv­ing horses when he was 10 years old and plough­ing fields,” he said.

In 1959, Ed­ward met and mar­ried his wife Noe­line and the cou­ple went on to have five chil­dren to­gether.

As an ex­tended fam­ily, the Drays ex­panded their ru­ral business in­ter­ests, be­com­ing well known and re­spected through­out the Proser­pine / Whit­sun­day cane farm­ing and cat­tle pro­duc­ing in­dus­tries.

Ed­ward’s mid­dle son Bill Dray said his fa­ther had many loyal em­ploy­ees, many of whom be­came life-long friends.

Cane­grow­ers Proser­pine branch chair­man Glenn Clarke said the tight-knit com­mu­nity was now mourn­ing the loss a well-re­spected gra- zier and friend. “It is a tragic ac­ci­dent and a shame. He [Ed­ward Dray] was in­volved in sugar cane all his life and it’s a sad loss to the Proser­pine farm­ing in­dus­try,” Mr Clarke said.

“Proser­pine isn’t a big farm­ing com­mu­nity and ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one. This type of news shocks the gra­zier com­mu­nity and the wider com­mu­nity in gen­eral.”

A fu­neral ser­vice will be held at St Cather­ine’s Catholic Church in Proser­pine at 11am, this Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 17, fol­lowed by in­tern­ment at the Proser­pine Lawn Ceme­tery.

SORELY MISSED: Third gen­er­a­tion Proser­pine cane farmer Ed­ward Dray was a fam­ily man who will be sorely missed.

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