Wauchope has lost one of its more remarkable citizens with the passing of Ron Dixon.
The avid golfer, former soldier and great family man was aged 99 years.
Ron was set to mark his 100th birthday on July 9 2021 along with his 75th wedding anniversary to wife Marj, who coincidentally is in line to celebrate her 100th birthday on March 20.
As a popular member of the Wauchope Men's Veterans Golf Club, Ron was a golfing regular each Thursday afternoon for a round of nine holes with regular playing partners, John Schubert, Skip Bransdon and David Robinson.
Former men's golf club president and fellow keen golfer John Hill says Ron was a wonderful character.
"He was granted free membership of the club," John said.
"The marvellous thing about Ron - who was our oldest member - was that he was so honest, affable and a very genuine bloke.
"He was just really well respected.
"The club acknowledged Ron on a couple of occasions for his golfing ability.
"He was very keen to beat his age off the stick 100 times.
"His remarkable record includes, beating his age 106 times and playing to his age on 37 occasions.
"The funniest story is that the vets were actually wanting to make a presentation to Ron as he neared the 100th mark.
"Ron had been quite ill and it was decided that they should make the presentation when he reached the 99 mark.
"So they got a photo of the course, the clubhouse and the 18th hole. But somehow the plaque read '100' and not '99'.
"The club members covered the "99' with a sticker and made the presentation.
"Well, Ron came good and went out and managed to beat his age for, officially, the 100th time.
"So they told him he was allowed to rip off the sticker!"
He's also hit five holes in one, the most recent just two years ago - at 97 years of age - when he hit a seven iron into the fourth hole at the Wauchope Country Club.
Remarkably, Ron was also part of the unique record in 2005 when he and fellow player - Max Ovey - hit consecutive holes in one into the fourth hole.
Ron took up golf following retirement with his background included A grade tennis and baseball.
Blessed with a strong competitive spirit, Ron took umbrage at starting this new sport with such a high handicap, something of a tradition in golf.
However, he started practicing his chipping and putting around the family home.
His handicap soon reflected his competitiveness - he was off nine. He would continue to play the majority of the sport between a 10 and 13 handicap.
But he also understood golf to be among the hardest to learn and master.
"With all the sports I've played, golf is the biggest challenge," he said in an interview with the Port News in August 2020.
"In tennis you can be feeling really good and you generally play really good.
"But with golf, you can feel really good but still have a bad round. That's the challenge," he said.
Ron fought in World War Two, in North Africa (1940-42) and in New Guinea (1942-45). He was a signaller with 2/5 Field Artillery regiment as part of 7 division.
He usually served in forward exposed positions, helping direct artillery fire onto enemy positions. His unit supplied much fire support to many battles.
On November 2, 2017, Ron was invited, with 10 other survivors of the New Guinea campaign, nine army and two air force, to attend a special 75th anniversary function at the Margaret Whitlam pavilion at the National Arboretum in Canberra.
He also received the Military Medal.
A few beers
Ron was born in Sydney and came to live in Wauchope in 1981.
Ron and Marj have three children - Heather, Ross and Christopher - along with 11 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
Despite their age, the couple did not use any walking aids while Ron was still driving the family car, albeit on a restricted licence.
Part of Ron's daily health regime is to soak three Australian apricots in water overnight before consuming the fruit and juice the following morning.
He's also set up his garage into a mini gym with walking treadmill, weights and exercise strength bands.
"The strength exercises help control by back and neck problems I've accumulated over the years," he said.
But the exercise regime was not all hard work, he said at the time.
"I still enjoy a couple of beers and a rum after the exercises too."
A funeral service for Ron Dixon is at 11.30am on Monday December 7 at Lake Innes Memorial Gardens.
Also making news:
Thank you for valuing local journalism with your subscription. While you're with us, you can also receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.