Vale Ray Tozer ~ 1950-2021

A True Local Gent Will Be Missed

Ray Tozer

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of one of our longest standing advertisers – Ray Tozer from Everton Mechanical Repairs. Ray sadly passed away in December after a battle with Cancer.

Over the years Ray had made many friends,including his customers, with his trademark kindness, compassion, honesty and reliability. He loved that he could help people resolve their issues with their vehicles as well as being a person they could chat to when running them to and from the station, Brookside or their home.

Thanks to wife Fran Tozer, we have a little bit to share about his wonderful life in her words…...

Ray was the youngest of 5 children to May and Bill Tozer. At the time of his birth, they lived in a house very close to Kondalilla Falls, near Montville, as Ray’s dad was a farm labourer working with dairy cattle. Much like our current weather it had been raining for days and as Ray’s impending birth approached they had to engage the help of the local milk delivery man with his truck, with chains on the tyres, as it was the only way to get down the range to the Nambour Hospital, where he was delivered safe and sound.

They then moved to Aspley, again in a house where Ray’s dad was involved with farm work. This site is now where Zupps is located. Finally, Ray’s mum and dad were able to move into their own war service home at Geebung. Ray’s dad then worked at The Prince Charles Hospital in their kitchens until his retirement many years later. Ray’s dad used to cycle to work every day until he was able to buy his first car.

Ray began his school life at Geebung State School and some of his lifelong friends are here today. There are many stories of the pranks they used to get up to. It sounded like a pretty carefree life, even if many of them did go to school shoeless. Ray’s dad used to breed chooks and often travelled to local (and not so local) shows, with Ray in tow, to show his own chooks, or once even be called upon to be judges. Probably where his love of birds came from.

The next step was Aspley High School, and I believe if you wanted to do a trade, one then had to travel to Petrie by train as well. At this point, the trade he decided on was as a mechanic. He then started work as an apprentice to the Brisbane City Council at Light Street Depot in the Valley, working on the old Leopards and Panthers. Every step of the way, he made lifelong friends. Sometime after that, they were moved to the Council depot on Newmarket Rd where he worked on a variety of council work trucks and vehicles.

It was around then that he was introduced to me by his best friend Peter through Peter’s girlfriend at the time and our mutual family friends. My girlfriends & I used to go to the English UK club in Felix Street in the city where we danced to old time English dances, great fun at the time. We roped Ray and Peter to reluctantly come too, but they did enjoy the evenings. No night clubs around in those days, or not that I can remember! I had known Ray for 3 weeks when he proposed on the dance floor, on New Year’s Eve. Those were the days when the beer came in a jug and we couldn’t go home until everyone had “shouted” their round! When I questioned Ray the next morning when he came around to my home, firstly, whether he remembered what he had said the night before (yes) and secondly if he meant it ( again, yes), the deal was sealed! Not that my father approved, I was much too young according to him.

Out of all his friends, Ray was the only one to be conscripted into National Service (for young ones, that was when the Vietnam war was on and 20 year old males were conscripted by a ballot at the time). So in 1970, he was duly sent off to Singleton for the initial training. I think it was there that someone thought he had potential as an officer and was asked to attend officer training, which he refused, although in later years he often wondered if he should have tried it. He was then sent to Holsworthy Barracks in Liverpool. It was here that he got to work on the Armoured Personnel Carriers. During this time, he and other nasho’s

as they were called, were expected to train the Regular Army personnel, yet they received less in the way of wages even though they were qualified mechanics ( in case, he hadn’t received the official notification). In an effort to change their situation he and a few others went to their commanding officer but nothing eventuated. At this point, they decided they were going to see the local MP, which I think Ray told me was Gough Whitlam. Shortly afterwards, they got the increase they had asked for but all the stirrers were sent off to other posts. Some of the lucky ones were sent to Bulimba in Brisbane (miles from their own homes), Ray on the other hand, got Kapooka, in Wagga Wagga ( couldn’t get much further from Brisbane than that!). Our daily letters and phone calls continued, along with the occasional hitch-hike home, which was fraught with dramas. Luckily for us, National Service was reduced from 2 years to 18 months, so our plans to get married in Sept 1972 went ahead with more time for Ray to be back in civvy street before the event.

We had bought a small dilapidated house in The Gap on a large block of land that had lots of potential. We had been saving for over 3 years so that we could buy our own home, never buying unnecessary things. Ray was always disappointed that we couldn’t afford the newer house being bought or built by other friends whose wages hadn’t been constricted by being conscripted, but it was ours and we loved it for 19 years, adding bits here and there with the help of family and friends and our own hard work. The paint work was awful, and most rooms needed three coats of paint. The ceiling was a pitched roof, so Ray started at the high part on high trestles and I started at the low part on lower trestles, meeting somewhere in the middle!

Ray soon left the council and began working as a mechanic at Chandlers Corner, near St John’s Wood and then Mobil The Gap. I think during those years, Ray owned a small motorbike and he was mostly out the door in time, but one day he was running late and a lady who was a customer told him she missed her bus because she relied on the noise of his bike to get to the bus stop in time!

Ben and Emma came along in 1978 and 1980 and it was around this time we started thinking about owning our own business. We bought BP Wilston, on Newmarket Rd in 1981. Ray ran the business and I did the books at home and then had to pump petrol, check oil and tyres etc so the staff could have their lunch. We actually had driveway service in those days! In order to do that, I had a playpen in the foyer area for Ben and a cot in the unused shower recess for Emma. Unfortunately a lack of child care places meant as a married woman I was at the bottom of the list for places!

I can only remember once when Ray was sick, he still went to work but slept in the back of his panel van until he felt better. Talk about work ethics. We sold out after 5 years of no holidays except the four days over Easter, when no-one was open, unless the garage was rostered on. It was during this time that we got the first of our many dogs, a white boxer called Dimple. She loved Ray and went with him in his panel van every day. This period saw us buy a half cabin cruiser so we could enjoy some time out on the water, fishing or swimming, as holidays just didn’t happen. Ray loved to fish, the kids and I mostly let him!

After this, Ray started working for Roy and Judy Thomas at BP Ferny Grove, as their mechanic. Sometime later, Simon started work there as well. Eventually Roy asked Ray to manage the site for him when Roy took his overseas walking tours as it meant that Judy could go with him instead of minding the garage. Soon they were known as being reliable, trustworthy, honest and all round good blokes.

Sometime after this, Ray decided along with Simon, to buy their own workshop, starting at the already existing Everton Mechanical Repairs which was quite run down but it enabled them to buy into it. They moved to larger premises a few years later, having outgrown the initial workshop. Ray was still committed to providing the best service he could to all his customers, those who had found him after leaving other places and new people who were coming to him through word of mouth.

The businesses around Ray had all started going to Fraser Island on “boys” trips, some for the fishing, some for the drinking, or maybe a bit of both! Being on the border of Pine Rivers and Brisbane, it was difficult to decide to have the Monday as the Ekka show Day or the Wednesday, because different suppliers would have been shut. After the “boys” trips fizzled out, we started taking our family to Fraser instead along with another family, the Sutas, so we had great company as well as our family. Ray bought his jackaroo, which he loved, primarily because of it’s turning circle and never contemplated buying anything new, especially if it was going near sand and salt. In due course he bought others to replace the old one with new bits or vice verse. Sadly, that is one project that will now never happen but we at least got one last good trip to Fraser this year.

Somewhere around this time, we sold our house in The Gap and built a house in Kings Park at Keperra and have now been here 30 years; the trees and shrubs have grown up, enticing so many birds. We both enjoyed looking at our bird books trying to identify every new one we saw. As the vegetation changed and grew, so did the type of birds we saw.

He loved our two kids, our grandkids, including many extras over the years, and they in turn gave him much pleasure and joy, returning the love threefold. They have been a big part of our lives, including all their dogs too, as well as ours over the years. Nothing relaxed Ray as much as lying on the floor with our last 2 boxers, Bella and Blaze, after a hard day’s work.

Being a mechanic requires so much patience, diligence to the job in hand and sheer determination to find the necessary part required, especially when a car is getting older. Spending hours on the phone trying to track down a particular part and then having to wait for it to arrive from distant shores or wreckers yards. He took all of it in his stride but it gave him satisfaction knowing the job was done.

Ray’s cancer diagnosis 2 years ago was already considered stage 4. He put great faith in what the drs and staff could do for him but it was a very aggressive form of bowel cancer and the chemo was the strongest they could give him. He fought his diagnosis with strength and determination. When he went to have his chemo on the Tuesday, he would come home and then go to work the following day with the chemo plugged into the portacath. On the Thursday he would go to work with the bottle still attached, when he got to the RBWH the staff used to call him a legend as they couldn’t believe he was still working. He never complained to me about any of the procedures or needles he had to endure, but I just wished he could have relaxed and stayed at home to recover. And then to top it off, covid entered the equation. Had it not appeared when it did, we may have been able to get on a cruise or two between the chemo courses as that was about the only way I could get him to relax and he had enjoyed them in the past, knowing Ben and the staff were able to run the workshop without him.

For most of this year, we had been enjoying just companionably sitting on our verandah, Ray playing on his iPad (mahjong or solitaire) and me too, as he just liked being at home, Surrounded by his birds, listening to His redwings that had bred successfully over many years, or the cockatoos and corellas he loved to feed, as well as the occasional king parrots, and naturally the magpies and butcher birds. We also had many other visitors on the verandah over the years, a regular carpet snake on the bird feeder or on one of his snake proof birdcages. So close we could touch them but could never quite bring ourselves to do so! And possums.

The last few weeks got more and more difficult once it was decided another operation was out of the question. And yet he still tried to go to work, even with severe jaundice. Music was his solace, particularly “Time to say Goodbye” with Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman”, once he got home. In actual fact he loved a wide variety of music but once a song got in his head, I could hear him arriving home, it was often the same song for weeks until the next old favourite came up, lately Rambunctious Boy” by John Fogarty.

Someone told me many years ago that Ray was like a little lump of coal. I always thought of him as my rock; loving, kind, genuine, honest, funny, hard working, stable, set in his ways, a creature of habit. We had our tough times too, but always came out the other side. He will be greatly missed but can now Rest In Peace.

Here are just a few snaps of this tremendous man

 


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