Integrity, honesty, decency, and courage: these are all qualities and traits that Harry Hooson held in high esteem and used to live his life by, his family remembers.
Along with his natural athletic build, Harry was an imposing figure of a man who set high standards, practiced a disciplined and dedicated work ethic and encouraged his children to work hard and to be good civil citizens in a world of their own making.
Henry Ernest Roy Hooson, better known as Harry, was born on July 25, 1935 at Coramba, NSW, the youngest of seven children to Sidney and Laura Hooson.
As a young boy, Harry’s family lived on a farm at Glenreagh, a small rural village on Tallawoodcha Creek, in between Coffs Harbour and Grafton, where Harry and his brothers and sisters thrived on all that farm life offered – milking cows and helping out on the farm as needed.
Harry attended boarding school in Coffs Harbour and then returned to Glenreagh where he embarked on the first of several occupations. He worked for the NSW Forestry Department, then transferred to work for the forestry in Brisbane.
Harry came south to Wingham coaching and playing football in 1958, aged 23. It is in this role with the Wingham Tigers that Harry met his wife, Joyce. They were married on the Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1959. Harry and Joyce enjoyed 59 years together and would have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary – 60 years – this February. They raised three daughters, Kerrie, Kim and Karen. The family now includes eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Harry was an athlete in his day, and was chosen as a torchbearer for the 1956 Olympic torch relay as it made its way from Cairns down the east coast of Australia to Melbourne.
Harry played rugby league in high school, professionally in the Brisbane first grade competition in the late 1950s and then in Wingham to captain, coach and play first grade for the Wingham Tigers for several years.
Playing and then later in life watching football was one of Harry’s great passions. He was also a member of Wingham Golf Club for many years where he was a Thursday afternoon regular.
Harry was a fair, forthright, no nonsense man with a strong moral compass who was not afraid to roll up his sleeves to make things happen or to get things done.
He enjoyed his newspaper and his politics – local, state or federal – and followed the political cycle with a consistent viewpoint.
While he worked as an insurance agent in Wingham and Taree for many years, Harry also placed much importance on serving his local community. He served as a council alderman for many years and was a member of Apex, serving as president from 1963-64. He was recognised as an Apex Life Member in 1972.
Harry was a retained fireman for the NSW Fire Brigade for 28 years, a duty he considered a privilege and an accomplishment of which he was proud. He was a recipient of the National Medal for Service for distinguished and diligent service to the community in hazardous circumstances. But in typical form, Harry did not make a big deal out of simply doing what he considered to be the right thing.
As well as the duty Harry felt to assist in saving lives through his volunteer work with the NSW Fire Brigade, he was also a regular at the local blood bank, receiving an acknowledgement from the Australian Red Cross of having given over 100 donations.
Apart from his family, Harry’s great love affair was with his farm – Kimgarrie - where he spent many hours working, wearing his rubber gumboots, shorts and bond singlet, riding around on his tractor or in his Suzuki, slashing or ploughing fields, growing vegetables and milking and breeding cows.
As well as enjoying farm and family life, in retirement, Harry and Joyce enjoyed travelling, both overseas and around parts of Australia.
Harry led a full, healthy and active life and he cherished every moment spent with his family and friends. It was really only in the last two years that his health declined to a point where he had to enter care.