October 31st 2010
Remembering Claude Timms
Although so very sad, the crematorium funeral last Tuesday for an lslander who left us in his prime, Claude Timms, was a most impressive and expressive community event and will be remembered long and fondly by the 200 or so friends and relatives of Claude and his family who attended.
As a friend of Claude's, it was, I think, Claude's enormous generosity of spirit, love of knowledge, capacity to think for himself and very original sense of humour which were perhaps his most outstanding qualities.
But Claude has also set a superb example to us all. He has taught us much about how to live and how to die.
Claude suffered from an inoperable brain tumour which he lived with for nine years. Knowing he had a sword hanging above him which could drop at any time, it's impossible not to admire a man who didn't just live with a dangerous illness but who took ownership of his condition and could even make fun of it.
I never knew Claude before his condition began but it seemed to me that Claude had made it a kind of liberation: that, knowing he may be dead tomorrow, made today that more worth the living
To talk with Claude was always something different from the norm. Small talk could easily spin off to an unexpected place and, as often was the case, we'd stop for a chat along the West Point road and somehow enter a space where time ran slower but, strangely, with a little more purpose. Claude lived where the things that really mattered were and, in doing so, shared them with us.
In dying Claude continued that example. As an organ donor, we learned at the funeral, that Claude's heart, lungs, liver and kidneys had all been shared with other people in desperate need of their life-giving power and that, as a result, five people were making excellent recoveries.
Many took to the podium last Tuesday to recollect on times with Claude including old footie mates, childhood friends, scout and guides' leaders, waterside workers, former school teachers, Aboriginal elders, members of the Aquapella Choir and family members. Clearly, Claude was a man who earned great affection from many.
The heartfelt sincerity expressed by those who now miss him was unmistakable.
Following is the eulogy for Claude delivered by his father Bill Timms.
On behalf of Claude's family I thank you for being here today to celebrate his life and make our last farewell.
His life's journey began when he was born in Townsville on 30th January 1968.
Here today a number of people shall help us take a small glimpse of that journey which he shared with so many over 42 years.
Today a new journey begins: a journey of many memories of him which are kept in our hearts and minds.
Let us remember the good times because with Claude there was never really any bad times, just challenges.
Even when he knew the end of his journey was drawing near he would comfort those nearest and dearest, saying that he had gained nine years from the time he was diagnosed as having brian cancer.
Much of this nine year span was spent on Magnetic Island where he found and made many true loving friends, great mates both male and female. One of the latter was first his girlfriend - a relationship which blossomed into them being partners.
He was a wonderful person who never judged anyone, recognising that everyone had human characteristics of strength and weaknesses.
Elizabeth St Aitkenvale was the home where he grew up and experienced all the trials and events of early childhood.
He did his primary education at the Aitkenvale State School. It was there he began to develop the qualities which endeared him to so many people.
One example of his caring attitude. Our kids always had plenty of fruit. There were occasions when he would ask for extra with his lunch because he wanted to give it to someone who never had any fruit.
Claude handled his school work well.
It was about this time of his life that he developed an interest in issues which posed the question: why is it so(?) and took part in family activities around social issues.
He was a keen participant in school sports, being happy to achieve his best always being a team player.
It was during his primary school years that he shifted from playing Rugby League to soccer.
First he played with an Aitkenvale junior team then to Estates' juniors and later with Wulguru.
He was proud of the fact that he played with Estates the year the team won the junior premiership.
This was the year he broke his arm, being sent on for the last ten minutes so he could be included in the winning team photo.
Claude had other sporting interests. He used to go canoeing around Hinchinbrook Island with his friend Calvin. He would tell some hair-raising stories of his adventures. He also learned parachute jumping. One day his parachute failed to open but the small auxiliary chute did. "I had a great adrenalin rush today" he told me!
While on holiday in Africa he tried bungy jumping.
Our family used to go bush walking and camping - searching for old bottles, fossils and fossicking for gold in the Ravenswood area. It was in these activities that he learned the importance of quietness and observation; how to experience and understand the beauty of the Australian bush and all it contained.
About 1981 our family moved to our Oak Valley rural block. From there he attended Town High State School where he again became involved in sport - setting a javelin record which stood for a number of years.
At Oak Valley Claude gained much experience assisting with building our owner-builder house. Here again he made life-long friendships.
He also assisted with the erection of other buildings, building fences, working on windmills and water pumps.
There he learnt looking after animals: cows, horses, goats and bees - learning to drive a car on road and through the bush.
He learnt that animals, even though they served the purposes of humans, were to be treated with care.
It was through these experiences that he decided to learn a two year course at Burdekin Rural Education College in animal husbandry, fruit and vegetable production, use of farm machinery, its maintenance and general farm work of harvesting produce. From this he earned a Diploma in Agriculture.
He took part in sports playing with the college rugby union team.
On completion of his diploma he worked as a stockman on Dotswood and other stations.
In 1988 he left that industry and worked at the Stevedoring Industry as a waterside worker for CB Marine.
There he learned to operate fork lifts from 4 to 40 tons, ships' cranes, a heavy lift mobile crane and general ship loading and discharging work.
He was an active unionist and was elected the Maritime Union Job Delegate.
It was while working at CB Marine that he decided to play touch football, joining the Redskins team, assisting in the winning of five premierships. Here he also made life-long friendships.
At that time he decided he wanted to buy some land. After looking around the Townsville district, with his parent's assistance, he bought a block at Bolger Bay Magnetic Island.
Claude built two enclosed gardens for vegetables, planted fruit and nut trees.
We did weekend work, relocating, from Giru, a windmill which pumped from a bore. From this Claude laid out and built a small irrigation system.
It was also during this time he formed a relationship with Judy. A much-loved son, Harlee was born.
Harlee became, in the last few years, a major incentive to get the best out of life for them both.
He was made redundant from CB Marine then went to work for Patrick Stevedoring.
During the 1998 Patrick dispute, when they were locked out, he became involved in a speaking tour and generally assisted with day to day organisation.
He again took redundancy when that company downsized and worked driving cranes on construction jobs in the port.
From there he went to the Yabulu Nickel Refinery driving heavy lift mobile cranes.
It was while working there that in 2001 he was diagnosed as having a brain tumour.
This brought his career as a crane driver and industrial worker to an end.
After Yabulu he continued to try to work. For some time he ran a small business in the Palleranda area as a gardener. It was here too that he became close friends with one of his former wharf work mates.
Because he could not drive a motor vehicle for moving his lawn mower and gardening equipment around he had a small trailer built to tow behind his bicycle. Eventually, due to headaches caused by noise, he had to stop this work.
After he and Judy separated he came to live permanently at Bolger Bay. He made improvements to the small house, installing two verandas, solar power and a hot water system. A large equipment and storage shed had already been built.
A considerable amount of his time was spent with his son Harlee. Tai Kwon Do, music, drama, reading, then later in the Belgian Gardens Scouts where he trained as a cub leader, taking them on camping trips, bush walking and other scouting activities.
While doing all this he became involved with the Island Aquapella Choir about which other people will talk to you.
There is much to be said about Claude, his life and contribution to the happiness of people.
One of these contributions, his last act, was to be an organ donor. His donated organs went to recipients in NSW and Queensland.
A special banner made for Claude's funeral service
Claude, you were always a deep thinker, a compassionate person, a loving father, son and brother. Our lives will always be richer for having shared your short life with us. We were always proud to call you son.
It can truly be said that, although he died, he lives on through other human beings giving them the possibility of years of hope and happiness.
Doves were released by Claudes' son Harlee and
other young people following the funeral.