Vale Ronald Leslie Coxhill
Composed and read by Karel Coxhill at the funeral
Born 27th Dec, 1931 in Maccassa, Celebes Islands, Dutch East India (now Indonesia). Died 7th Jan 2011 at Metung.
His father was a sound engineer in a team that travelled through the islands showing films to the local inhabitants. Of course, cinema was unheard of in those days. Moving to Hong Kong, he secured a job as a film censor. I was born in 1933 and Robin 4 years later.
We lived in Hong Kong until 1939 when the British Government suddenly realised that citizens were in serious danger from the Japanese. I often wonder why they suddenly realised that there was danger seeing the Japanese had already been in China for 3 to 4 years. We were shipped off to Manilla in the Philippines on the last ship to escape Hong Kong. After 6 months in Manilla, we were forced to move by the Japanese invasion. This time to Australia with Ron, myself and Robin. What an adventure for us three kids. "Australia", where the bloody hell was that? We were shown a newsreel about "Australia" and mum had to decide whether we would live in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne. She chose Melbourne. I think because the newsreel showed that it sometimes snowed in Melbourne, and mum had had enough of the tropics. They didn't say anything about the 100 degree plus heat, the flies, the bush-fires, such things were unknown to us. Not that we kids minded, we loved the freedom of the hills and took every advantage at the weekends to go camping to the Monbulk Creek Valley to fish and catch rabbits. All we took was a billy and frying pan, some tea and sugar and some bread. If we didn't catch anything we only had bread and lard to eat. I can't ever remember going home starving.
After dad returned from 6 years in prison camp, "poor bugger" skinny as a rake and barely spoke a word for a year. A new son Richard and daughter Carla sparked him up and life turned more normal.
Ron was the most reliable of us boys, and rightly so mum's favourite. She relied on him a lot during these years when dad was away. He grew up as the quiet one. Very strong in his likes and dislikes. Loved Country & Western music and yodelling. Didn't like Marcia Hines. Always said "never have and never will" to anything he didn't like. Quiet and reserved. Thought about things then made his comments long after the rest of us had moved on to another subject which often drew hilarious laughter. Ron could never understand why we laughed.
So we grew up and I was into sport and girls. Ron just to girls. Very particular about his appearance. Spent a lot of time in front of the mirror. Boy, he had a long string of girlfriends that lasted many years. We despaired of him ever settling down. He joined the Air Force and served in the Korean War. Based in Tokyo he learnt his trade as an instrument maker and fitter. After his war service he joined Taylor Instruments and spent most of his working life with that company. His selection of girlfriends didn't improve, in fact it got worse. He wanted to marry one of them. Thankfully, help was at hand. At a Belgrave Tennis Club function he met a lovely School Teacher from Timboon. Her name was Jenny White. As Ron was quiet and suave, Jenny was loud and bubbly. He was smitten, so smitten he lost all his composure and couldn't muster the courage to ask her for a date. Yes, you guessed it, I asked her for his first date. Things progressed swiftly and they were soon married and two wonderful boys, Simon and Ben, joined the Coxhill family. Ron was very proud of his wife and sons. Only on rare occasions when he had had one too many he opened up about his love for his family.
Once again Ron went overseas. Struggling to raise enough money for a deposit on a house, his company offered him a stint in Saudia Arabia working on desalination plants. It was very hard and lonely work but he did it for his family. As the boys grew up we spent many enjoyable camping holidays together but unfortunately because of a family upheaval the family drifted apart and we saw less of Ron, Jenny and the boys.
After our mother and father passed away, the family started to get back together again. Sadly, a devastating blow to Ron and the boys, their beloved Jenny passed away and I don't think Ron recovered.
Ron and I as kids would have a fight at the drop of a hat. At about 14 it suddenly stopped. I don't know why but it did. We were not just brothers but good friends.
Ron my brother you ain't heavy.