Glen Hobson December 7, 1945 – June 25, 2023

The volumes of caring and compassionate comments on social media are a testament to the many lives touched by my husband Glen on his journey through life and he would have wondered why St Joseph’s Church was overflowing for his farewell on July 5.

I am writing this obituary with a sense of sadness and loss but also gratitude for the 52 years we shared together as husband and wife. The birth of our four children Todd, Justin, Shannon and Samantha were watershed moments in our life together and we watched them grow and mature and then make their own way in life. The arrival of 11 grandchildren enriched our lives even more and we were always so grateful to be a part of their lives.

Glen was a humble man who never realised the impact he had on so many lives – in his eyes, his family was his greatest achievement in life.

Born at Gunnedah on December 7, 1945, the fifth and youngest child of Gertrude Maud Paget and Ernest Richard Hobson, Glen grew up with his siblings Connnie, May and Ted – who have all gone before him – and his remaining brother Barry who lives at Kootingal.

Glen thought the world of his mother and was very close to her. She had migrated with her family from Wales to Australia when she was eight. Her father Sidney Paget had fought in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps during World War I and was gassed in France. When Glen was born, the family was living at 39 Little Barber Street, in Gunnedah.

His parents separated and his Mum took her family to live in Tamworth where she rented a Nissan hut, one of many built for the Armoured Division when it was stationed there during World War II. Glen always had great memories of growing up in the hills and paddocks around Nazareth House with his dog Peter, trapping rabbits with his brothers and fishing and swimming in the river – he did not realise until he was older that the fish and rabbits were essential for their survival as there was very little money to spare.

He began his education at Woolomol Public School, now Oxley Vale, and when his mother secured a Housing Commission home at South Tamworth he attended the local public school.

In 1964 the family moved back to Gunnedah where Glen went to Gunnedah High School but left at the age of 14 years and nine months as he was keen to get out and earn some money. He actually loved learning and spoke with great affection of his teacher Mr George who encouraged and believed in him.

He worked at Casey’s Fruit Shop for a while before joining his mother at Werris Creek where he applied for a job at the railway and really enjoyed his time in the telegraph department.

Coming from a long line of butchers, he then followed his brothers Barry and Ted into the meat industry at Gunnedah Abattoir where he worked his way up through the different levels until he was a skilled boner and slicer.

In the late 1960s he joined his mates Terry Bailey and Kenny Wynne at Gosford Abattoir, determined to do lots of overtime and buy himself a new Holden Kingswood to travel around Australia. But fate stepped in and his generosity in loaning his earlier green 1964 Holden to Terry and his wife Sue, was how our lives became entwined.

Glen and Marie Hobson.

I had been visiting Sue to help her out in her late pregnancy. We met up again at the Gunnedah races when Glen came home to see his Mum before beginning his travels – and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

The new Kingswood never went around Australia but it did take us to St Joseph’s for our wedding on May 29, 1971, and then our four babies home from hospital.

As our family grew, we invested in a blue eight-seater Mitsubishi Express, which carried kids all over the place for swimming carnivals, took us on a memorable trip to Adelaide and camping holidays at Keepit.

My father Ossie Campbell built our forever home at 16 Hopedale Avenue, Gunnedah in 1973 and we lived there happily for 50 years.

The volatile nature of the meat industry in the mid-1970s was the catalyst for a big change in our lives when a number of lengthy strikes caused great anxiety in single income families like ours with two children and a mortgage. Glen decided to become a Commonwealth Meat Inspector and he tackled the task with enthusiasm, first completing a year-long bridging course in English by correspondence before taking on the two-year meat inspection course, while holding down his job at the abattoir and still being present for our family.

In January 1977 he received notification from the Department of Technical Education that he had passed his final exams and in April 1977 he was offered a position at Mackay by the Department of Primary Industry.

So, we took a giant leap of faith and moved to far north Queensland with Todd and Justin who were both pre-schoolers. Meat inspection in Mackay also involved port duties inspecting the hulls of ships as well as working at the Baker’s Creek Abattoir.

Although it was an enjoyable time in the tropics travelling out to the islands and exploring the hinterland, we were always conscious of the need for our boys to have their grandparents, cousins, aunties and uncles around as they grew up, so when a year later Glen was offered a three-way swap with two other meat inspectors wanting to move to Queensland, he accepted and we returned to Gunnedah and our home. Glen worked as an Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service meat inspector at the abattoir and also did relief work at other meat works across the state. He always lived frugally on these trips and saved money on his living away from home allowance.

Glen’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 1983 and he was devastated when she died on September 17, 1984. He was sitting alone in the hospital room praying for her to be at rest when her head turned towards him, her eyes focussed directly on his and turned from green to blue before a sweet rush of air brushed his face and she closed her eyes forever. He spoke often about this experience and the feeling he had never left him. It was then that he decided to embrace the Catholic faith like the rest of our family, with my Dad Ossie as his great role model, and his sponsor for confirmation. He stayed true to his faith for the rest of his life.

Glen was always keen on fitness and he enjoyed running whenever he could. He ran in the Gunnedah Gallop over eight kilometres in 1978 and was a member of the meat inspector’s winning team. He also liked to cycle and played indoor cricket as part of the inspector’s ‘Mean Machine’ team, which won the competition. Darts was another of his interests, with his Gunnedah Golf Club Lions team runners-up in the 1982-83 B grade summer comp.

In 1982, we all became involved in the world of swimming and Glen became interested in coaching. He started out in a supervisory role in 1985 when coaches were absent or unavailable and gradually built up his knowledge. In 1988 when the club had reached rock bottom financially and could not attract a coach, he put his hand up to take on the role in a voluntary capacity, mixing coaching twice a day with his job as a meat inspector. He became an accredited Level 1 coach in 1991 and completed the Level 2 coaching principles course in 1996.

With no winter training facilities, Glen pushed for a gymnasium at the pool and was able to include weights and resistance training in his program after completing a week-long course at Fitlink in Brisbane. He did a refresher course in 1997 and became a member of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association.

When the indoor heated pool opened in 1996 the club offered him a full-time coaching position and he was able to leave his meat inspector’s job and concentrate on coaching. Gunnedah Abattoir closed for good in November the following year.

Over the years Glen pursued improved coaching methods and Gunnedah became the premier club in the district.

He coached Narrabri Paralympian Sarah Jane Schulze to the Atlanta Games where she finished in the top 10 and took disabled swimmer Nicole Davey from Tamworth through to the Paralympic selection trials in the Year 2000. Nicole returned to Sydney when she was selected on the state team for the Sydney 2000 Games. He was also invited to work as assistant coach at a number of state camps and was head coach of the New England and Central North winter development squad five times. At these camps he mentored trainee coaches from the district to gain their pool deck hours for accreditation and guided district swimmers through intensive training programs. He also accepted swimmers from other clubs with no winter training facilities in his squad. Included in his squad were our own four children and their Roberts family cousins.

He coached squads of swimmers to NSW Country, state and even national level with some reaching finals while others picked up medals. We were both honoured with life membership of the club and district and were recognised in the 1996 Gunnedah Australia Day awards for our contribution to swimming.

Marie and Glen during a visit to Paris.

Glen never looked for accolades during his years as a successful swimming coach and was quietly proud of every achievement made by his young charges, no matter how big or small. On the flip side, he did not suffer fools gladly and would not tolerate disrespect. He always had the back of his kids and would defend them to the hilt.

He returned to meat inspection in 2003 on a contract basis with AQIS travelling to Tamworth most days in a car pool until 2010 when he closed the door permanently on that chapter of his life.

In retirement Glen loved to walk to the top of Porcupine lookout most days of the week, where he was well known for his efforts in cleaning up the rubbish left by others. We all called him an environmental warrior.

We embraced the world of travel with my sister and brother-in-law Cathy and Fred Roberts, with a memorable road trip to the Northern Territory and outback Queensland in 2001. Other trips followed when we purchased a caravan and travelled all around Australia, as far as the tip of Cape York, through Western Australia to the bottom of Victoria. A coach trip to Tasmania was also part of the travel log.

In 2003, we fell in love with cruising with our first voyage to the Pacific Islands on the Pacific Sky. In all we took 12 cruises, the last one to the Pacific islands on New Year’s Eve. We both loved our trips overseas starting with a Trafalgar tour of Europe in 2007, followed by the UK, Canada and France.

In 2016, the swimming club was again struggling to find a coach, so Glen volunteered to take on the squad. This was a whole new ball game for him, with one of his charges actually the son of one of his swimmers from back in the 1990s. He enjoyed two seasons with the squad, regaining his Level 1 accreditation and coaching a number of swimmers through to NSW Country championship medals.

Glen became a proud Poppy for the first time with the birth of Joseph in 2007 followed by Charlie, Sofia, Ben, Angus, Adelaide, Saxon, Flynn, twins Georgia and Harry and Anastasia. His pride was immense and they brought him so much joy. He would tell complete strangers how wonderful they all were and how they had great parents. He was proud of their achievements and loved his daughters and sons-in-law like his own.

Every year we all enjoyed a family holiday at Diamond Beach, staying in cabins or a caravan, which he loved because he was able to enjoy the company of each and every member of his family.

Glen’s sudden and unexpected death was caused by a massive brain haemorrhage at home on June 20 followed by a stroke. Our family sat with him around the clock at Nioka in Tamworth until he slipped away at 9.30pm on Sunday, June 25. His final resting place at Gunnedah Memorial Park faces the setting sun and his much-loved hills visible from our front patio.

Glen may have gone physically from this world but his spirit is with us forever, reflected in the faces of our treasured grandchildren.

– Marie Hobson

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