A tribute to a great man

By Wez Hitzke

My beloved father met his Lord and maker on February 22nd 2013. Below is my reflection/tribute, followed a brief history by my mother both of which were read out at his thanksgiving service on the 1st of March 2013.

The passing of my father has been one of the most difficult doors Providence has forced me to walk through. There is no doubt, Christ took the sting out of Dad’s death; but not the ache from my heart. Christianity does not give us exemption from pain, suffering and death; but it does transform them. The Wounded Healer does work all things for good for those who love Him. In Christ there is real, solid, eternal hope. I saw it in Dad and experienced it myself in his death. The 3rd last night before he died he said with resolute, relaxed, confidence to mum and me, ‘I am at peace, if I’m gone in the morning don’t come looking for me’. There are many who would not be able to honestly say such things in the face of death.

To say Dad was a great man is no trite statement, there is real evidence to back it up. People of all ages readily testified of his love, care and influence before his passing. He was generous with his land, his possessions, his money, his skills, his time, his knowledge, his humour – his whole life. Dad believed in honour, he practiced integrity. My father also had an amazing work ethic that was inspirational to many. I don’t know how many times I have heard lines such as ‘Your father taught me how to work’ or ‘He gave me my first job’. He instilled into a generation of men from our church the importance of work and responsibility. Dad knew society would pay dearly if men rejected these values.

Dad had a non-whinging attitude to life. He loved and served God no matter what the circumstances. He was the polar-opposite of a fair-weather-Christian. I heard of and saw him endure pain I never could, and not once did he ever stray from his creed that ‘God is good’. He spluttered that line in his worst moments, he truly believed it and I will never forget it.

I thank God for my Dad, I mean that on the level of who he was. Dad would want everyone to know this; Jesus Christ changed his life. He would not have been the person he was without his faith. The great dad I had was possible because of the great God he had. I can’t imagine who or what my father would be without Jesus being an active part in his life.

Dad, it’s obvious we are in pain over your passing, but it is also mingled with joy. To quote an author we discussed many times, I know you are ‘beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before’. – C.S. Lewis, The last battle. Sacred Scripture also tells us that ‘to live is Christ, but to die is gain’. What is the gain of death? It’s simply more Christ. I know you have been totally absorbed into Him, the Source of life, love, joy, truth, goodness, and beauty. You are Home, your deepest longing has been fulfilled, you are more alive than me now.

Finally, I want to thank you Dad for your faithfulness to my mother. I knew from a young age that you would never leave our family, cheat on our mum or break your marriage vows. The security this gave me as a child was priceless and something I only understood the magnitude of in later years. Your example is an inspiration. You are such an honorable man. Dad, I love you more than I can write, and for more reasons than you knew. Moving back home the last 5 months to help and care for you was one of the best decisions I have made. I thank God for my unusual life-circumstances that gave me the opportunity to serve you in this way. I pray the strength you had will be with our family as we endure your apparent absence as now you are a member of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’.

Your loving son, Wez

A brief history (by Wyn Hitzke)

Gladys Hitzke gave birth to Ted in the spring of 1939 in their home at Kilbirnie not far from Goombungee . She managed to do this in between milkings on The dairy farm where she and Fred, along with brother Kevin and sister Doris lived.

They were tough times then, but they lived simply and happily for the next 7 years .Then tragedy struck in the form of a boating mishap on a fishing trip and Fred, her loving husband along with 2 of Gladys’s brothers were drowned. More very difficult years followed as Gladys tried to cope with this new situation, then re married to a widower by the name of Schultz . The new blended family was not exactly the Brady bunch and hard times were had by all.

As a child, Ted loved to spend a day alone in the bush watching the birds. It was a passion he followed right till his death. There are some birds however, according to Ted, that were impostors, possibly demons!! – currawongs and Indian minas, who prey upon his little favourite wrens and wag- tails. He spent a fortune on bird seed during the drought. Then he stood by to see there was a fair distribution, shouting at the greedy galahs which he called Pink Swine!

Back to Ted’s childhood.
Doctors were not plentiful in those days. After badly slashing his hand with an axe, his resourceful mother gave him a wooden clothes peg to bite on while she stitched up the wound with white cotton and sewing needle. He had various falls from trees and windmills. One such fall, injured his left leg so that it did not grow for a year. Doctors considered amputating, but a chiropractor got it growing again, but it left him permanently short in that leg. Such were the adventures of Ted Doris and Kevin, it would send chills of horror to today’s overly protective parents.

Just before his 14th birthday, Ted went to live with his beloved Grandma Schmalling in Goombungee where he began and finished his apprenticeship as a plumber. Ted would regale us with myriads of stories of those days, putting up windmills, roofing country houses and much more. It was there he learnt his famous work ethic under a boss who refused to let him get away with any shoddy work. Plumbing was a skill from which, throughout his life, many many people benefited from his generosity, even in the years of his illness.

He joined his brother Kevin in a business called Champion Motors in Goombungee. During those years, he had a life-changing experience. He was a member of the Lutheran church, but this was different from just attending church. His godly grandmother had passed away and Ted had begun to live what the world thinks is The Good Life. One night his grandma appeared to him in a vision asking what he was doing with his life. This really scared him and he began to search for God. He found Jesus to be his very real Saviour and friend. The things he had been taught at church became reality not just a ritual to be followed. He was filled with Gods Holy Spirit and so began a life of adventure, learning more of Gods Word, and enjoying the company of Gods people. He never diverted from his faith.

In 1968, his good friends Keith and Myrtle Davie introduced him to me at a WEC convention at Chinchilla. Ted pursued his quarry and we married January 3 rd 1970. Not long after, we purchased a house on 100 acres on Highfields Road for the princely sum of $16,000. Then we joined forces with Keith and Jock Davies to form Trinity Ranch. We had 3 farms, 2 at Highfields and and the Davie ‘s original Goombungee farm. All supplied eggs for Sunny Queen.

At the conclusion of that business relationship, Ted retained the Highfields Road property and we began a milling business called Elkanah (meaning. The Lord redeems). Later we formed yet another business with Nick Kempe and Barry Vennamore called Farmstock Feeds, which prospered for many years. Ted could tell many a story of Gods miraculous provision for us during all our business days. Eventually the property was sold to Andrew Youngberry in 1997 after Teds diagnoses of prostate cancer.

We retired to our beautiful property at Mt Kynoch which became a centre of activity for the youth of our church. Ted always remembered the night he and I arrived home from an outing to find our house filled with young people, one of which approached Ted, demanding to know who he was.”I just own the place!”, Ted replied in no uncertain terms.

We were able to share the beauty of our property with so many friends on so many wonderful times of celebration. Ted loved our almost 3 acres of garden. Each day he would don those famous blue overalls and go out as if he were still on the farm, fixing, planting, mowing and another round of projects. He loved to proudly present me with a lovely rose or camellia or magnolia and sit in the garden while we ate freshly baked scones for morning tea.

The church has always played a big part in our lives and Ted was always enthusiastic in his involvement. We enjoy such wonderful friendships with with God’s children that last through eternity. Teds most important role was a father and husband.

in 1996 Ted was given 3 years to live. But God was gracious to give us another 17 years with him. In 1999 Ted suffered a broken back, which caused agonising pain, a brain hemorrhage which almost took his life, then 5 months later just after his 60th birthday , he underwent a 5 graph bypass heart operation, during which he died but miraculously survived through our prayers of faith and Gods great mercy. He made somewhat of a name for himself in medical circles.

Ted was a big man in a small body. That body fought a valiant and brave fight until last Friday when he finally overcame the cancer as we gathered around him asking Jesus to to receive His child , Ted entered the presence of Jesus free of cancer and pain.
Well done, good faithful servant.

During those 17 years, Ted and I have gained so much comfort and encouragement from Psalm 91.It was given to us by a pastor not long before the diagnosis with the words ” You are going to need this psalm.” We have prayed it, read it, and absorbed it through all those years.

Psalm 91 (NIV 1984)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

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