Proserpine community mourns loss of a friend
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.