WWII Digger and family man farewelled
THE funeral of the last remaining Second World War veteran in the Burringbar RSL Sub-branch, and a respected and loved member of the Crabbes Creek community, was held on Tuesday.
Murwillumbah Uniting Church was full to celebrate the life of Ernest Albert Boorman, or Paddy as he was affectionately known, who died aged 94 on January 21.
Paddy enlisted in the army at the age of 21 and travelled to the Middle East on the Queen Mary, where he served as a truck-driver in the Transport Corp in Syria.
During his service he suffered a knee injury which would trouble him for the rest of his life.
In 1946, Paddy, one of seven siblings, returned to the family farm at Wooyung to resume his life as a dairy and cane farmer, which he didn't retire from until he was 88 years of age.
The back part of Paddy's property, which he sold 15 years ago, was purchased more recently by the organisers of the Splendour in the Grass festival to be used as part of their event site.
He is survived by his wife Daphne, whom he married in 1951 after the pair met at a local dance.
He will be fondly remembered and missed by his six children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Allan Vincent, the president of the Burringbar RSL, told the service that the passing of Paddy was the end of an era as he was the last surviving World War veteran in the group.
Paddy's last official duty at the sub-branch was helping to unveil and dedicate a new war memorial at Burringbar a few years ago.
"Now he has gone to join that great army of those who fell in battle," said Mr Vincent.
He said Paddy was "a great community man" who helped the Crabbes Creek hall survive, would man the front door during debutante balls there, and was heavily involved in the Anzac Day commemorations at local schools.
Several other veterans present at the ceremony placed red poppies on Paddy's casket as a mark of respect, and the Last Post was played.
Paddy's nick-name came from the much-loved pademelon toy he owned as a boy.
His children spoke affectionately of their father's unshakeable demeanour even in the face of deadly reptiles and run-away vehicles and of the regular road trip holidays with their parents.
They spoke of Paddy's love of reading, which he had passed on to his children and grand-children, especially science fiction and natural history books.
Invited by Rev Ken Day, who officiated at the funeral, to share their memories of Paddy, it was his happy and welcoming demeanour which made the biggest impression on many.