Eric Walker and his wife Lee were valued members of the St Marys & District Historical Society - particularly Eric who was always willing to help with any woodworking jobs that were required for our floats in the St Marys Spring Festival. He was also ready to lend his little truck for moving stuff around.
The following is the eulogy given by his son
I'd like to thank you for honoring Eric by being here today. I know he would have appreciated it. Each of us has many memories of Eric Walker. I'd like to share some of mine with you. Eric Walker, my dad, was born in 1922... he was the second of eight children. They were a poor family, though dad said they never missed what they never had. It was Belfast... Eric was a laborer's son and began working after school at selling ice creams, kindling for firewood and he was a part-time assistant to a country vet. He left school at 14 and already possessed a lifelong passion for work. So he went to work in the mills and the factories of Northern Ireland. When he was 18 he joined Ireland's biggest export trade... where Ireland scattered its young people to the ends of the earth. And like millions of others... he left his home and never ever returned. He tried to join the British Air Force... but his mother refused to sign the papers. So he joined the Army and fought in World War 2 as Sapper- Engineer in India, Burma, Hong Kong and Singapore. He told me that when the war was over he decided he'd go to Canada, but had second thoughts when he was told he'd have to wait for six weeks before the ship sailed. His decision to come to Australia was based on the fact that the ship sailed the next week and he didn't want to hang around for too long. Dad was then in his 20s and drifted around New South Wales following the work with his mate, Col Davenport. . . where they lived in a tent and worked at picking peas in Bathurst, working in a mine in Captain's Flat, a timber mill on the north coast and just about any job that paid. In 1949 Eric met Alethea. He was a simple and direct man who knew what he wanted. Before a fortnight was up, he'd asked Lee to marry him. He said that mum wasted 8 months of his life while she made up hr mind to say 'yes'. I'm glad she did. They moved to historic Werrington House and we were a family. . . Eric and Lee and Irene and Shon. And by 1960 we had our own home in King Street St Marys. Dad loved St Marys. He said it was the best place to live, to work and raise kids . . . and we were all living proof of it. The family was central to dad's universe. I know that many of you visited dad at Westmead and Mt Druitt Hospitals. You may recall a group- photograph pinned to the wall at the foot of his bed. I lost count of how many times dad told the story of that photo. He said: 'I arrived in Australia... one man. . . alone. And here I am today, surrounded by my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren.' . . . and sure enough there we are. . . more than 25 of us. .. and growing all the time. As you know... dad was a builder. He was always building an extra room, a garage, a chook-shed or an open-air kitchen in the backyard. Dad seemed to be developing a building-theme through the various houses he owned. He seemed determined to construct an entire roofing system from the front yard to the back-fence. And he pretty well succeeded in Brisbane Street... though he was making a fine start in Desborough Road as well. There was another side to dad. He was a practical and handy businessman and he ended up owning his own cleaning business before he retired. However, for me he's best remembered for the hairdressing salons that he set up for mum. There was never a time in my childhood when mum didn't own a shop that dad had made for her. In the end he's created 9 hairdressing salons that I can recall... and he was always there making sure that everything worked behind the scenes while mum was the hairdresser, Mrs A.J.Walker, in the front-of-house. It was a good partnership and they made it work. The reason we're here today is to say farewell to a trusted friend... a grandpa... a mentor... a husband... and a father. Goodbye to a genuinely beautiful man. He was always positive and upbeat. And he had the happy knack of making people laugh. He was infectious with his love-of-life... and he was generous with his time and his energy. I was there... and I saw how he touched many many people at all sorts of levels., and in all sorts of ways. He was always a true friend. And he kept up that positive and upbeat outlook right to end... and he never gave in. One week before dad went into hospital for the last time I called by the house in Desborough Road on my way home from work... and noticed a tonne of sand and gravel had been delivered in the back yard. Now at this stage dad was so frail and weak he had to sit down after a short walk... we'd have to give him a hand to get out of chairs... and we'd have to keep an eye on him when stood up: to make sure he was steady on his feet. I mentioned the sand and gravel and asked what it was for. He said he was going to do a little concreting near trie backdoor next week if I could just give him a hand. I laughed out loud... because it was so dad. So dad.. .I'm proud to be your son. And I think I speak for each of us here today... when I say I'm honored to have been your friend.