Keith Stanley Blundell, or Dick as he was better known to the world, was born on May 16 1924 at Capper Street in Tumut.
He was the second child for Stanley and Jessie Blundell, preceded by his elder sister Edna and followed by younger brothers Max (known as Skinny) and Raymond (known as Hopper), and younger sister Patricia.
In 1928, when Dick was four, the family moved to Yass.
Dick attended St Augustine’s School but was never much of a scholar and would often wag with his mates and get up to mischief.
Dick had a love of pigeons from a young age and as a boy he bred them to sell for pocket money. When he sold a pair he would tell the new owners to keep them locked up until they nested so they would settle into their new home but many didn’t listen to his advice and, when let out too early, would fly home to the Blundell residence. When they didn’t come back, the owners would usually go and see Dick a few days later to buy a new pair, not realising they were often buying back the very pigeons they had lost.
At 14, Dick left school to work at EL Lakins grocery store in Comur Street. He didn’t enjoy the job much and soon left to work at Smith’s Dairy, where he milked cows and made deliveries in a horse and cart.
Unfortunately Dick and the horse didn’t see eye to eye and it would sometimes pigroot and buck, tipping the cart, the milk, and Dick with it. The horse would then bolt back to the stables for an early knock off, leaving Dick to walk back to the dairy.
Following Smith’s, Dick worked in various jobs: wood carting for Les Rattenbury, bur cutting for Albert Rattenbury, a farm hand at ‘Fiveshear’ for Arthur Hall and picking up fleeces in the sheds for Sir Walter Merriman.
It was the timber industry that would be Dick’s first real calling and he spent many years working at Pollack’s Sawmill, travelling to Wyangala to fell cypress trees for the mill and working as a tailer-out on the saw bench.
While Dick was working at Pollack’s he met Gwen Reynolds from Albury, who was working at Doyle’s Pharmacy in Yass. After some romantic trips to the pictures, fishing and rabbiting, love blossomed and on July 4 1951 Gwen and Dick married at St Patrick’s Church in Albury.
It was a marriage that would stand the test of time; it lasted an incredible 61 years.
The happy couple lived with Dick’s parents while they built their house at 13 Victoria Street. They built the house themselves with help from Laurie Wilson, George Hall, Keith Newman and Tom Coleman, with timber from the mill and bricks they made themselves.
During the construction of the house, in 1952, their first child, Raymond, was born. He was followed in February 1957 by Lynette. Shortly after, work dropped off at Pollack’s and Dick went to work for Jim Beck at Beck’s Sawmill.
Dick enjoyed working for Becky. You could tell by the way he talked about Jim that he always held a great deal of respect for him.
Times were tough in the early days for the young family but they were happy and Dick grew vegetables in the garden, kept chooks, and would milk the cow before work each morning, with Gwen making butter from the cream.
On the weekends they would regularly go fishing, which was Dick’s real passion in life. He was a member of the Yass Soldiers Club Fishing Club for many years and Dick and Gwen would usually both do very well at the annual awards night.
As the local timber industry began to wind down, Dick left Beck’s in 1975 to work on the DMR. There he worked with a road patrol crew maintaining local stretches of highway.
Dick loved a yarn and was a great storyteller. I think I’ve heard most of his stories at least a dozen times over the years but it didn’t matter because they were always entertaining and usually hilarious.
Some of his best yarns came from his DMR years, so you could tell he enjoyed the job and the blokes he worked with.
In 1989 Dick retired from the DMR, bringing down the curtain on 51 years in the workforce. During that time his children had grown up and had children of their own. Raymond married Debbie Fitzgerald and had Rebecca and Andrew. Lynette married David Sainsbury and had Bronson, Lynda (deceased) and Jessica.
Dick loved his grandchildren and doted on them all.
In retirement, Dick spent his days doing what he loved: fishing, gardening, helping friends and family, and listening to Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash records.
Most afternoons he could be found in the backyard watching his pigeons come home to roost. He also enjoyed driving his blue Gemini down to Mount Carmel every weekday afternoon on his own little bus run to pick up Jessica and the Betts boys from school.
In recent years Dick was blessed with four great grandchildren: Katie, Inika, Amaya and Tyler. They all brought a great deal of joy to his life and he had special nicknames for them all.
In February this year, Dick underwent major heart surgery and defied the odds to survive the procedure and make a full recovery. For a while it looked like he would be around for years to come but sadly it wasn’t to be.
Dick Blundell was a great bloke and I was very fortunate and very proud to call him my grandfather. He passed onto me his love of fishing, his love of gardening and he taught me a great deal about life in general. I’ll always cherish the memories of our many years together, particularly our last fishing trip to Patmore’s Gate. We didn’t catch anything that day but it didn’t matter, it was great just to be out on the river, having a beer and a yarn, and that’s how I’ll always remember him.