Sign of respect for farmer
By PETER LANGSTON Contributor
SIGNS recently were erected on Woodford Island honouring John Gibbens, a dairy farmer on the island for 20 years from the late 1940s.
Gibbens Lane, originally misspelled on council maps, now has signage marking the laneway along which Mr Gibbens' 86acre farm had frontage.
A commando in New Guinea, New Caledonia and Borneo, Mr Gibbens also served in the Occupation Forces in Japan until 1947. He had vowed before leaving for war that he would return and buy Forester's farm and this he did, settling there with wife Joy and raising his brood of five ? Lance, Rosemary, Judy, Sue and Mandy.
His reputation was for hard work and honesty, working on the Ashby Docks to supplement farm income.
Leaving the island at the end of 1969 when the dairy industry crashed, Mr Gibbens worked at Yamba docks after relocating his family to Yamba.
In 1973, they moved to Armidale, where he worked as a school groundsman.
On the first day of school in 1977, John Gibbens was fatally injured at worked and died a few days later.
His widow Joy died of cancer in 1995.
In an intimate ceremony at the corner of Gibbens and Dents lanes on Woodford Island, attended only by family members, eldest son Lance said a few words in memorial to his Dad, champagne was sipped and memories relived.
The family is grateful for the help of Clarence Valley Council's Maclean office, particularly Car- men Landers, Mark Evans and Genevieve. Standing there in the late afternoon sun, if one ignored the cane and squinted one's eye- sight back to earlier times, John seemed to be standing in the distance, outside dairy, wondering what all the fuss was about.