I was saddened to hear of the passing of Inverloch local identity Ray Durkin. Saddened too, that because of COVID-19, attending his funeral was out of the question. I can only hope that the current rules enabled his loved ones to be present ‘in the flesh’. My condolences to his wife and family.
I can’t say that I was a close friend of Ray, rather, I was a frequent passenger on his V/Line bus run from Koo Wee Rup to Inverloch, particularly during a period while I was Municipal Monitor at South Gippsland Shire.
I would travel down weekly on the bus, staying in the family holiday home in Inverloch before heading over to Leongatha for a couple of work days and then returning to Melbourne the same way. I guess I would catch Ray on at least one journey per week over an 11-month period.
When I first met Ray, he had what could only be described a ‘crusty’ demeanour and not really encouraging of conversation. Not deterred, on my next trip I tried again and soon we had struck up a casual friendship.
I think both of us enjoyed it when by chance he was rostered on when I was traveling, and we chatted almost the whole journey each time.
I learned that in addition to being a husband, father and grandfather, he was a driver on the same bus route for something like 40 years, he was a farmer; and was on the management committee of the Wonthaggi Workingmen’s Club. That is a full life in anybody’s terms.
I’m not one to usually write letters, but was drawn to on this occasion because in these times of lockdown, border closures and restrictions aplenty — and sadly, the many COVID-19 related deaths — ordinary interactions that would happen on a daily basis are missing in many of our lives and the stories of everyday people, the characters like Ray, do not get told.
I don’t know what led to Ray’s passing, but from my conversations with him, his was a life well lived. VALE Ray.
Peter Stephenson, Melbourne (Inverloch part-timer).