Diane Graham, Juliane Ferguson and Carolyn Farmer with their dad, Doug Farmer, at Kingaroy RSL Club on Saturday morning
FLASHBACK: Doug and Thelma Farmer in 2013

February 4, 2020

A special 96th birthday celebration organised by friends and family in Kingaroy at the weekend took a tragic twist with the death of Doug Farmer’s wife on the morning of the big day.

Thelma, 86, died in the Canowindra Aged Care facility on Saturday morning after a long illness.

But Doug bravely said he wanted his birthday celebration at the Kingaroy RSL Club to go ahead, despite his sad loss.

Doug’s daughters – Diane Graham, from Howard; Juliane Ferguson, Ballandean; and Carolyn Farmer, Kippa-Ring – had travelled to Kingaroy for the birthday bash so were on hand to comfort their grieving father.

“I loved her very much, and I miss her very much,” Doug told southburnett.com.au

Doug had sat by Thelma’s bedside every day during her illness.

Barry Krosch, from the Kingaroy-Memerambi RSL Sub-Branch, said it was such a tragedy to befall his friend, who is the oldest member of the Sub-Branch.

“He’s such a lovely man. I’ve known him for more than 70 years, since I was a boy, and I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone,” Barry said.

He had asked Doug if he wanted the birthday event cancelled, but Doug had said no.

Mayor Keith Campbell expressed his condolences to Doug as did Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington.

“It was so sad to hear of his wife Thelma’s passing in the early hours of Doug’s birthday and I pass on my sincerest condolences,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“I was honoured to catch up with Doug at the 2019 Kingaroy Remembrance Day ceremony and share some time with him.

“I have seen first-hand Doug’s dedication to the work of the Kingaroy-Memerambi RSL Sub-Branch and his commitment to keeping the Anzac spirit alive through our annual Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and Vietnam Veteran’s Day events.

“He is a stalwart of the Kingaroy community and I would like to thank him and show my appreciation for his service.

“I hope he enjoyed his special birthday celebrations with family and friends, sharing memories of Thelma and their life together.”

Doug even managed a smile for the cameras as he cut his birthday cake.

A tribute to Thelma and Doug’s lives was laid out on the table at the morning tea
Doug cuts his birthday cake as family and friends look on (Photo: Barry Krosch)
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell with Doug on Saturday morning (Photo: Barry Krosch)

* * *

Doug Farmer was born in Gympie on February 1, 1924. 

Doug Farmer broke out his old Queensland Rail uniform in 2004 when Kingaroy marked the centenary of the arrival of the first train to town

He joined the RAAF on July 6, 1942, and served in the South Pacific as an RAAF Guard.  He was discharged on  January 21, 1946, and returned to work on the family farm at Lower Wonga.

He then moved to Brisbane to be trained under the Post War Reconstruction Program where he became a qualified carpenter.

He married and moved to Kingaroy where he worked for a few years in the building industry before joining the railways.

Doug worked for 17 years for Queensland Rail, first as a fettler and then as a porter at Kingaroy Railway Station.

He also worked for seven years for the PMG in Kingaroy, delivering telegrams and letters on a bicycle..

Doug is a Life Member of the Kingaroy-Memerambi Sub-Branch.

He served as secretary of the Sub-Branch for many years, and also had a special interest in supporting Legacy.  For more than 20 years, he regularly manned a street stall to sell Anzac Day badges, Remembrance Day poppies and Legacy badges.

In 2009, Doug was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to war veterans and their families, and to the community of Kingaroy.

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2 Responses to "Tragedy Shadows Birthday"

  1. Doug has always had a special place in my heart. While in Kingaroy it was a delight to be with him at RSL functions, and a pleasure to have been his RSL Padre – Stuart Bradley

  2. A great bloke, a good RSL mate, keen to fly the Australian flag. Saw a lot of each other while in Kingaroy, 1987-1995 – Stuart Bradley

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