’HE WAS JUST THE BEST DAD’
SWIM TRAGEDY: Beloved family man remembered
TRIBUTES have flowed for Beeac’s Murray Howard, who is being remembered as a genuine country gentleman who loved his family, the Cats and his cattle.
The 65-year-old died after he suffered a heart attack while taking part in his 20th Pier to Pub at Lorne on Saturday.
TRIBUTES have flowed for Beeac’s Murray Howard, who is being remembered as a gentleman who loved his family, the Cats and his cattle.
The 65-year-old suffered a heart attack while taking part in his 20th Pier to Pub at Lorne on Saturday, despite the best efforts of lifesavers and paramedics.
Mr Howard was best known for the impact he had during his teaching career, most recently at Ellimnyt Primary School, where he was famous for his footy times tables and known as “Hachie”.
The family paid tribute to their loving husband, fatherof-two and grandfather-oftwo, remembering him as a generous and attentive man.
“He was just the best dad,” daughter Sarah said.
“We were really close . . . he was always there for me with guidance and support.”
Mr Howard attended teacher’s college in Geelong and taught at several primary schools from Laverton to Colac while also managing a successful cattle farm.
“He just had a care for his students . . . adults who were taught by him say he was a big part of building their character,” Sarah said.
“At the same time he was very active and busy on the farm . . . he was so proud of his cattle.”
She said the super-fit swimmer was thrilled at the thought of accepting his finisher’s medal for the milestone, before tragedy struck while wife Anne and son Matt waited on the beach.
“It was just so sudden,” she said. “He was so fit and active and had been so excited to receive his medal.”
Mr Howard’s wife, Anne, described him as “a very special man”.
He also took generous care of his 93-year-old mother.
People took to Facebook to pay tribute, labelling him “the best teacher in the world”, “an absolute gem of a man”, “a ripping bloke” and asked to “barrack hard from above”.
Dale Anderson had been a friend of Mr Howard for the past 15 years and said he was someone who poured his heart and soul into family and farming, and loved bringing the two together.
“My best memory of him is him holding his grandson (Raffy) up over his pen of steers, saying: ‘Dale, this is my grandson’, and he had the biggest smile, showing him the cattle,” Mr Anderson said.
“He was a terribly proud grandfather. He loved his two children, Sarah and Matt, and his wife, Anne. He was a tremendous father. It would just be so devastating for them. “I could tell he was respected in the community, because whenever you went out with him, people always came up wanting to have a chat to him, and he was a very well known bloke. “Everyone had time for him, and he had time for everyone. “People often say you never hear a bad word spoken about someone, but, seriously, I never heard a bad work spoken about him.” He said Mr Howard was a forever upbeat Cats fan and the pair often spent time reviewing each game over a beer at the Sawyers Arms. “When they lose, we all know the answer, but he was a pretty happy supporter. We all thought since 2007, we’d had a pretty good run, so we were still pretty happy,” he said.
Mr Howard’s livestock agent, Will Richardson, said it was tragic for the family, describing he and wife Anne as “beautiful country people”.
“I was with him last Sunday. He’s got the best cattle in the district,” Mr Richardson said.
“He’s such a good community man and, with the show at Colac, did many years of volunteer work.
“He was a thorough gentleman.”
Mr Howard earned the top price for his pens of Angus steer weaners at the most recent Colac sales.
Lorne Surf Life Saving Club said it was saddened to hear of his passing.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this competitor,” the club said.
Murray Howard with daughter Sarah.
Murray Howard at the Colac weaner sale last year; and (left) with daughter Sarah and wife Anne at the 2015 Pier to Pub.