For Grandad

Edward Alexander Seawright, Husband to Jean, Dad to Barbara, Bill, Alex, and Lorna,  Grandad to me, my brothers, and my Seawright, Ethorne, and Jarvis cousins, and Ted to most of you, was born in Tolga on the 16th of December in 1931.

Grandad spent most of his childhood in the Tolga area, completing grades one to six there, where he excelled in sports and loved fishing. He would travel five miles to get to school, on foot if he missed the horse, and then back home again in the afternoon. One particular teacher Grandad had, who he met again later on in his life, told him that it was his beautiful smile that helped settle her nerves on her first day at her new school, and that she would never forget him because of it.

Grandad changed schools in grade seven to Thornborough, which Grandma, Jean, also  attended, and this would also be the first place that Grandma would come to hear about Ted Seawright, but only in passing. Eventually Grandad was offered to begin an apprenticeship as a Mechanic which he accepted enthusiastically as he always had a passion for machinery, and he loved the work. Eventually though, he would decide to go back and help his father construct houses.

Over many years, Grandad had different jobs including working as a fireman on locos, working in the Air Force and being trained as a drill instructor, doing odd jobs for Wipes Hardware and TAA Airlines, and even cutting the path for the main power lines to be run along the hills from Gordonvale towards the tablelands. Grandad first met Grandma at a dance when Grandma was introduced to him because a friend of his wanted to be alone with the friend that Grandma was at the dance with. And although their friends didn’t stay together, Grandma and Grandad were married on the 28th of February in 1953.

Two years later, in March of 1955 their first child, Barbara was born, and although Grandad was told he had a son, this wouldn’t officially happen until August 1958 when Bill was born, and then again in May in 1960 when Alex was born. In September 1963, Lorna, the youngest of the kids and the second girl in the family came into the world, and the Seawright family was finally complete. And although together they endured through a lot of hardship, Grandad was always strong for his family, never dwelling on issues, always looking towards the future, and always with a great sense of humour.

Eventually he would apply for a job at the Hambledon Mill as the offsider to a Fitter, before wanting to become a Fitter himself because he knew that he would be able to do a better job than most. He showed he was more than capable immediately upon taking the practical tests, by completing two days worth of examinations in only half a day.

Grandad worked at the Hambledon Mill for a couple of years before he was told he would eventually become a water tenderer even though he had completed his Fitters examinations. Grandad had other ideas though and wanted to become an Engineer, and so after being laughed at by his managers, he applied for a job as a shift fitter at the Inkerman Mill. Here he was encouraged by his shift Engineer to undertake training by correspondence to become a second class and then first class Engineer, being taught Maths by Grandma, and teaching himself technical drawing.

An opportunity eventually arose for Grandad to work for Walkers to help set up a brand new Sugar Mill in Thailand, which he saw as a great opportunity and jumped at the chance. While he was there, Grandad was accepted in to the Thai family that owned the hotel he was staying in as the number one son, which is a very big deal in Thai culture. After the mill had been commissioned, Grandad was asked to stay on as the Chief Engineer because of how he was able to connect with the people he worked for and with. One of the Thai ladies described grandad as “delightfully disrespectful” due to the jokes he made and the pranks he would pull.

Eventually due to an accident he had while working at the mill, and because Thailand was becoming dangerous with the invasion of the Vietcong, Grandad returned home to his family in Australia, where he worked for three years at the Babinda Mill before starting a new venture, Innisfail Bearing Supplies with his son, Bill.

Grandad was proud of his business, which Alex would also become involved with some years later, and even after he retired he loved to help out as much as he could and loved to know the current happenings around the shop. Those who have read the regular IBS newsletters over the years would know of the Ted’s Joke column, which Grandad started, and which will remain in the IBS newsletter as a tribute to him.

Throughout the years Grandad had many adventures, however he also had his fair share of health problems, although nothing could ever break his sense of humour. At one time, on the way in to surgery to have a painful gall stone removed, Grandad told the doctor that he thought he had passed the stone, to which the doctor replied “Well you better show me.” so Grandad handed him a stone he had picked up off the side of the road. The  doctor, who was always known to be rather solemn couldn’t stop laughing, and Grandad become known around the hospital as the man who made him laugh.

Those of you who knew him would want to know that even up until his last meals Grandad was making jokes, he asked one of the nurses if she had made the stew he had just been served, when she replied that she hadn’t and asked why he wanted to know, he told her that the cook ought to be shot!

Edward, Eddiebear, Dad, Grandad, Ted, was a strong, smart, practical joker, who loved life, loved his family, and loved making people smile. We will always love him, and always remember him.

– Adam

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