’HE WAS JUST THE BEST DAD’

SWIM TRAGEDY: Beloved fam­ily man re­mem­bered

Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - JA­COB GRAMS, GENEVIEVE ALI­SON & RE­BEKAH CA­VANAGH

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.

Pic­ture: YURI KOUZMIN

Mur­ray Howard at the Co­lac weaner sale last year; and (left) with daugh­ter Sarah and wife Anne at the 2015 Pier to Pub.

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