[A Tribute delivered by his son Graham at Tamworth on 28 July 2006.]
When someone you love passes away it is a time to reflect on that persons life. The deeper you reflect and the further you probe the more you begin to realise that every life has an interesting story with meaning and significance and can provide a lesson for others, especially in the case of a life that has spanned more than 90 years.
Today would have been Dad's 92nd birthday. The first half of his long life was very much affected by big events on the world stage. He came into this world at the outbreak of World War I, he turned 15 at the beginning of the Great Depression and he turned 25 at the outbreak of World War II. The second half of Dad's life was more about finding inner strength to overcome personal problems, finding self belief, finding peace and contentment and finally finding faith in God.
Dad was born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria on July 28, 1914. His parents Albert and Amy originally hailed from Yorkshire in England where apparently Naylor is a very common name. Anyhow, being cousins both of them had Naylor as a surname.
The family moved to Dee Why on Sydney's Northern Beaches in 1917 when Dad was 3 years old. His father obtained work as manager of Frenchs Forest Brickworks where he worked from 1917 until the outbreak of the Great Depression when the brickworks were closed down. The family survived the depression years by establishing a poultry farm at Frenchs Forest, where they lived and worked for many years.
One day while walking home along what is now the Wakehurst Parkway he was forced to shelter from a violent storm. As fate would have it, the house in which he found shelter was the home of his future wife Muriel Aldred. Romance blossomed and they were married on March 21, 1942 at Mosman Church of Christ. Dad had enlisted in the Army in July 1941 and they only enjoyed a very short honeymoon. Two days after the wedding Dad was on his way to the horrors of the Pacific War.
He served at Morotai in what is now Indonesia in the 75th Australian Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battery. Like many soldiers returning from active duty he did not talk much about his war experiences. Dad was away from his new bride for more than three and a half years, returning home on November 30, 1945. He didn't muck about, nine months later Bronwyn was born - one of the very first post-war baby boomers.
After his discharge from the Army in December 1945, Dad found employment on Sydney's tramways. His role was to maintain and oil the track points. Working amongst Sydney's traffic, it could be just as dangerous as any war. On one occasion he escaped possible death by jumping into an open man hole to avoid being run down by a speeding truck.
Like many returning servicemen, even though not physically injured he bore emotional scars. This led to a serious alcohol problem with resultant adverse effects to his health and family relationships. His inner strength was revealed when he fought off this demon. Once he had made up his mind to stop drinking, he did not touch another drop for the rest of his life. We all were, and still are, very proud of him for the will power he demonstrated.
Bronwyn and I still have fond memories of our childhood days in the fifties. We were fortunate enough to live close to extensive bushland and not far from the sea at Manly. But the best memories are of our annual holidays away together as a family, usually up the north coast at Nambucca Heads.
In 1961 the NSW Government controversially ripped out all the tramway points and ended Sydney's tram service. The trams were replaced by buses and as a result dad was transferred to the bus service where he worked in maintenance at various depots including Willoughby, North Sydney and Waverley. He remained in the bus service until he retired in 1977.
While we remained at the Seaforth house, Dad was a keen vegetable gardener and our big backyard was gradually eaten up by his growing suburban mini-farm. Bronwyn and I rued our loss of playing space, but we probably ended up healthier as a result of all the fresh home grown vegetables on the table.
In those days Dad loved classical music, opera and ballet. He also enjoyed reading and visiting art galleries and exhibitions. But I think his greatest recreational love was walking. Not humping a big pack and camping out at night, but day walks - all around Sydney, its suburbs, and the surrounding national parks. He got to know every square inch of Sydney and all the suburbs. Nothing would stop him from taking a short cut to finish a walk. He once gained some notoriety in the press when he took a short cut across Sydney Airport. He was quickly rounded up for some torrid questioning by the airport security police.
In 1973 Mum and Dad sold the Seaforth house and moved to a home unit in Kensington. This took away the burden of maintaining a house and garden and they were closer to Dad's workplace and the city. They stayed at Kensington for 27 years before moving to Tamworth in June 2000. How well loved they were in Kensington was illustrated by the amazing, well attended, emotional farewell they were given by the congregation of the Kingsford Church of Christ. They were clearly leaving behind many friends in Sydney but Tamworth was a better place for Mum and Dad to spend their twilight years. Away from the big smoke to a friendly country town.
Being in Tamworth meant they were close to their daughter Bronwyn and her family and they soon made new friends as pioneer residents of Mountview Apartments. When they first arrived in Tamworth, Dad was able to continue his love for walking for awhile before it became too difficult. Less time taken up walking gave him more time for another of his keen interests - reading. Bronwyn was kept busy bringing him an average of five books a week from the library. Among his last words were "where's my bookmark?"
In Tamworth he also developed a taste for lunching out, and he seemed to want to try every cafe and restaurant in the district. I like to think he ended his life trying to finish his book before going out to lunch.
Dad's life was both a geographical and spiritual journey. Starting out in Bacchus Marsh in Victoria to Sydney's Northern Beaches, to a poultry farm in Frenchs Forest and a war torn tropical island. Then via the tramways and buses of Sydney to end up in the country music capital where he found loving friends, self-belief, contentment and faith.
I can't find the words to adequately express how much we will miss Dad, so I will finish with words by someone who can do it much better. These words are from a poem about Dad written by Mum in 1943 when Dad was away at war.
"My heart belongs to someone