An edited extract of the eulogy for Norm Douglas Kemp, who passed away peacefully at home in Tomakin on August 2.
What was most important in Norm’s life were his family and friends; he loved people.
Photography was a life-long passion. Another was vegetable growing, handed down by his father. That love grows on through his children.
His ancestors were convicts and free settlers - the pioneer families of the Hawkesbury River and their common thread was growing vegetables. His grandparents grew vegetables on the Hawkesbury River. He was the only child to Bertie and Florence Kemp, born in Hornsby Maternity Hospital on March 30, 1931.
He grew up in Wahroonga, but spent much time at the family farm where his grandparents grew cabbages and lettuce on the fertile river soils. He fell in love with boats and learnt his fishing skills from his mother.
His first job was at Russell Cowan Pottery at Waitara, until Flo organised a job at the Daily Mirror as a runner taking advertising copy to agencies in 1946. He became an apprentice stereotypist. Future jobs included at the Cairns Post, as a builder’s labourer at pub in Alice Springs, and at National Paper Industries in Adelaide.
When the call of home became too strong, he was reunited with Flo and Bert at Dora Creek, a wonderful place to fish and be in boats, with safe access to Lake Macquarie. Fishing was another of his passions.
There he met his future wife, Judith Ann Daniels. Dora Creek for their children meant complete freedom to swim, fish with cork lines and ride bikes around the reserve.
In July 1977 the family arrived in Cooma. Norm worked for various businesses including a real estate agency, Cooma Municipal Council, and had his own successful art and framing business, then Snowliner Coaches and Saint Patrick’s Parish School.
He had a strong sense of civic duty. He was a Justice of the Peace and president of the Sexual Assault Committee. He played tuba in the Cooma District Band, studied life drawing and was a qualified masseur. He enjoyed trout fishing and received certificates for wool classing, arc and oxyacetylene welding.
He was an elder in Uniting Church in Cooma and formed strong friendships. In the late 80s, it was time to go back to Dora Creek as Flo needed care. He restored the vegetable garden to its former glory.
Norm and Judy’s marriage came to an end. Ellen Birrell was the next love of his life. They found a little place called Tomakin and a house in Forest Parade, or “Snob Hill”, as Norm called it. They spent 20 happy years with the best neighbours. He loved the competitive spirit and friendship of his photography and orchid clubs and shows. His vegetable garden was where he felt most at peace. He and Ellen kept the tradition alive. Ellen took the best care of him and they remained so much in love. She made him the happiest man alive.