WALTER Duck proudly celebrated his 100th birthday on April 8, 2020 and was looking forward to a party later in the year when the people he loved could all once again be together.
The community is now sadly mourning, after Walter passed away gently on Monday, April 27.
The well-known and much-loved resident of the Comboyne plateau will be farewelled on Monday, May 4, with a graveside service at the Comboyne cemetery, where he will be laid to rest beside his beloved Noni.
The procession to the cemetery will start at his home in Thone Street at 12.45pm.
Wal's daughters, Wendy and Lyn, have encouraged those who cannot make the funeral due to social distancing limitations, to pay their last respects to Wal by watching the start of the procession.
Port News journalist Peter Daniels wrote a wonderful tribute to Walter to mark his 100th year last month.
Here is the story of a man who lived and loved and will be remembered fondly by all those who knew him throughout his life on the Comboyne plataeu.
Walter Duck lived in Comboyne for 97 of his 100 years.
He was born on April 8, 1920 in the Kendall Hospital. Walter was the first boy born in the hospital alongside five girls.
His parents, Ernest and Violet Duck were farmers who lived at Bobbs Creek. The family relocated to Comboyne when Walter was just three years of age.
He grew up with five siblings - Lorna, Keith, Val, Ron and Lance and they attended Comboyne West Public School.
Walter and his sister and brothers would walk to and from school each day, and often had to complete chores too.
As was the norm for the day, Walter left school at 13 years to help his parents run the farm for the next three years.
He then went scrub cutting - cutting logs for sawmills around the district. His primary role was to cut mill logs for Smith and Ellis sawmill at Langley Vale.
With the drums of war beating loudly, Walter enlisted in the AIF when we reached his 21st birthday and in March 1942 he left for Dubbo before heading to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria for training.
On October 10, 1942 he travelled to Port Moresby then flew into Wau where he was part of a mission to stem the advance of the Japanese invasion.
They were buying time to enable the Seventh Battalion to make contact with the Japanese.
He also served in the Ramu Valley on the west coast. During this period they were bombed twice and their grass huts burnt to the ground in the subsequent bombing.
Shortly after, Walter was part of the team ordered to build a tent city in order to draw the Japanese away from Goroka where an airstrip was under construction for the American air force to use as a base to land and refuel.
Walter served in a number of other regions around New Guinea during his service years.
He was eventually discharged from the AIF on December 29, 1944.
During his war service, Walter was unaware that his father had passed away, so he returned to the family farm to help is mother.
He continued at a variety of jobs including sawmilling and tractor driving over the years.
In later years he was well known as the cattle truck driver picking up stock at various properties throughout the Comboyne area.
On June 21, 1947 Walter married Maureen "Noni" Holmes in the little church on the main street in Wauchope. It was a family affair, with Walter's brother Val marrying Noni's sister.
The two families were neighbours and Walter had known Noni since they were children.
The newly married couple remained on the plateau and eventually purchased a dairy farm, staying there for the next 17 years.
The Gills Road property was home to their three children, Noel, Wendy and Lyn.
They eventually sold the farm and purchased a home in Comboyne.
Sadly, Noni passed away in 2001 while Noel also passed away.
Wendy says her father didn't mix that much but would often meet up with the neighbours every now and then while on the farm.
"There was a lot of young people around that time of dad's life but the family tended to keep to themselves," she said.
Despite some failing eyesight and a medical problem in March last year, Walter remained in pretty good health.
Walter spent some time at his daughter Wendy's home in Raymond Terrace while other daughter Lyn also enjoyed her time with him.
His faithful companion was Bruno, his fourth King Charles Spaniel - a rescue dog from Wagga Wagga.
Walter has six grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.