Jim Chapman Eulogy

The Islander Thursday October 5, 2017

VALE James Ross Chapman (Jim)

18-1-59 – 26-7-17

Eulogy – Saturday, 6 August 2017 - Vickie Chapman

St Albans Church, Kingscote, Kangaroo Island

Today we meet, as family and friends, to celebrate the life of our beautiful brother Jim.

Farmer, fisherman, shearer, coach, teacher, neighbour, and sixth generation Islander.

So many have gathered to honour his memory and for that our family is truly grateful.

On 18 January 1959 Jim was born at Woodside – by accident. 

Our mother was visiting her family at Oakbank, and he came early. 

His love of horseracing at the Easter Oakbank Carnival was surely crystallised then.

Growing up at Gum Valley, with our brother Billy (now passed), and my sisters Della and Trish and later Sascha and Amber, was a joyful time. 

Many of you have shared Jim’s life at Parndarna Area School for 11 years, followed by year 12 at Pembroke School.

Classmate, Neville Wooley has written, “I played football with and against him. 

Was a school and athletics team mate at Parndarna and Pembroke Schools. 

Jim was a welcome face on my first day at Pembroke when I didn’t know a soul. 

He taught me how to ride a push bike, he rode to our place (3 kilometres) to kick the footy one weekend – he put me on his bike at the top of a hill and gave me a shove. 

He was a first class individual”.

As our father was the local ‘Shell’ fuel agent, and ran a shearing contracting business from our farm – much of our time was attending to the cattle and sheep, feeding the pigs and milking two dairy cows. 

Our pocket money was a calf each and if it died, we got nothing. We soon learned to look after them.

Netting at Western River Cove, when it was legal of course, was a family affair and the haul would be shared with all on the beach – cooked and eaten fresh as there were no freezers.

Fishing in the dingy for whiting, was a real treat, and shared by so many of you. 

He loved competing with his nieces and nephews, and proudly taught them how to scale and fillet. 

Hard to beat the skill of Ron Forster, but he excelled in rounding up people to help him pull the boat on and off the beach.

Dances and family dress up nights at the Gosse Hall were a lot of fun. 

Jim and Trisha won a competition as Aladdin and the Genie. 

Our mother was thrilled with her costumes, but let me tell you, Jim was not happy wearing black tights.

Sport was Jim’s great love.

He excelled at football, tennis and athletics, including interstate competitions. 

From Parndarna Colts to Western Districts (after our fathers built the oval) and then to the Sturt Football Club.

Our father, not one for praise, did write on his 1970 photo as the KI best and fairest junior colt footballer, “All the material required for a champion sportsman packed into our little boy”.

The many trophies and awards were testament to this.

Later, coaching the Western District teams gave him the pleasure of seeing young players shine – although he always said Greg Downing mucked around too much, but turned out alright.

Jim’s early adventures took him on one of the first live sheep export ships to Iraq, a season at Mount Tom Price mine, the savings from which he bought his first car.

Visits to our grandmother in Alice Springs introduced him to the outback and playing with many Aboriginal children – unsurprisingly he later went on to work at the Wiltja Accomodation Program for 14 years, travelling back and forth to the farm. 

Two full time jobs, but Jim never shied away from hard work and he took teams of Aboriginal youths to KI several times. 

Some had never seen the ocean and he would say “you don’t need to take photos, your camera is up here”, touching his forehead.

Most of you appreciate the strength and skill of shearing sheep, and Jim was awarded the Novice Champion Shearer in 1972 by the Parndarna A&H Show Society.

Farming is a hard life, as you know. 

But with disappointments there were rewards, and Jim took great pride in his stock.

Undeterred by living a modest life he developed what our parents started at Gum Valley, opened up land across the next valley and restored the old Sheridan Woolshed and home at Western River Heights.

My sisters and I will always be eternally grateful for family holidays at Western River over many years and all thanks to the tireless efforts of our brother.

Of course he expected us to work when we were home, but he taught our children skills for life.

The lessons were strict as young work man would soon learn. 

Day one usually started with “these are your quarters, you will make your bed every morning, clean the dishes after every meal and wash your clothes. 

Then and only then you can start work, and then you’ll get paid.”

Corey, you are the last graduate from the Jim Chapman School of Hard work, and I am confident you will have a good and worthwhile life if you choose to accept his guidance.

Quite often Jim was committed to fighting for services to the Western end of Kangaroo Island – I have a whole cabinet of correspondence to prove it. 

Most Mayors in his lifetime, including Michael Pengilly, had letters to submit the need for road maintenance, pest and weed control, bushfire management and the like.

Even Australia Post did not escape when he fought and won the delivery of mail to all the families along the Western River Road.

With the leaders of all levels of Government here today, he’d expect me to give you a reminder, and I won’t disappoint him – I have a list!

As Jim would say “our early and Soldier Settler Families worked with sweat and tears, together with the families of today to provide the food and produce for our State – not to mention paying the rates which helped to support 150,000 plus tourists who visit our island every year”.

With a late season, this year has been tough.

Please honour my brother, by watching out for each other.

Your kind offers of support and love have been welcomed, so I know you are all capable of consideration for your neighbours.

Our cousin Emilie has played our music today.

Many of you would remember her as our local doctor.

Her mother Jan has also delivered the reading most beautifully.

Our matriarch, Aunty Alison, has watched over us all of our lives and her love for Jim saw no bounds. Equally Jim adored her.

And dear Maree, for 20 years you have loved and comforted our brother and you deserved more time and happy adventures with him.

You are forever in our hearts.

Our family appreciates the attention of our medical and police officers and Berry’s Funerals during this difficult time. 

In your presence we thank them.

Jim’s ashes will rest at Western River where a monument will be placed next to our Father and Mother.

Rest in Peace dear Brother, bathed in our love forever.

- Vickie Chapman