- Published: 16 September 2009 16 September 2009
Charles Cyril Coker (26 Jun 1918 to 24 Mar 2004)
IN 1918, a mother took her deathly sick newborn son home from Rockhampton Women’s Hospital after medical staff announced, “You’ll be taking him home to die”.
But that child - Charles Cyril Coker - proved them wrong and lived 85 years until illness ended his earthly days at Greenslopes Hospital in Brisbane last month.
The youngest of 10 children born to Harry and Emma Coker of Kabra, Cyril Coker lived and worked in and around Rockhampton all his life apart from his time in the RAAF during World War II.
After growing up in Kabra, Mr Coker became a carpenter, a trade at which he excelled until the war years intervened. He joined the Civil Construction Corps on building what became known as the American Settlement in Townsville.
The desire to better serve his country led to him joining the RAAF in 1942 where he trained as a wireless technician. He had postings in Queensland and Papua New Guinea.
After the war he returned to carpentry building houses in Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Theodore.
He built the house in which he and his wife Lil raised three children in Eton St, West Rockhampton. He lived on there after Mrs Coker pre-deceased him in 1979.
The rigours of house building took its toll on Mr Coker’s slight frame leading to back problems that forced a career change.
With the wireless communication skills he learnt in the RAAF, Mr Coker re-trained to become a telephone technician with the PMG (now Telstra) at the Rockhampton exchange where he was employed until he retired aged 60.
Outside of work, Mr Coker had many interests including church, writing, drawing, painting, family history and scouting. He held drawing classes in his home for U3A, volunteered his time with the Rockhampton Historical Society and worshipped for more than 40 years at the Denham St Church of Christ in a building he helped convert from a bakery.
He drove a 1957 Chevrolet for almost 40 years, went to TAFE in his 70s and learnt to type so that he could use a computer on which he wrote prolifically of his time in the air force, his life experiences and his family.
Last year Mr Coker self-published a book titled Dear Mother which was based on letters his mother kept from his service years that went undiscovered at the family home for four decades.
For many years, he led the Warripari Scout Group at West Rockhampton under the name Cuscus, a marsupial he encountered in PNG.
Mr Coker is survived by older brother Roy, three children - Marj, Ian and Judy - seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
- written by his great nephew Warren Nunn based on information from the family.