Kyogle gives moving farewell to "the best dad ever"
THE life of husband, father, mate and Kyogle Rural Fire Service volunteer, Deputy Captain Rudolph "Peter" Witton, was celebrated and honoured by family and colleagues yesterday.
Deputy Captain Witton, 76, had a heart attack while on his way to a house fire in Brindle Creek Rd, Loadstone, last Thursday.
Despite the valiant efforts of his colleagues and paramedics, he could not be revived.
An RFS volunteer for 36 years, Peter joined the Mt Colah brigade in Sydney's north in 1978.
When the family moved to Kyogle in 1992, Peter quickly became a valuable member of the local RFS.
Chris, 46, and Katrina Witton, 44, told how their dad was a man who loved his family, the bush, his Toyota Landcruiser, movies, CB radios and the Rural Fire Service.
"Chris and I were the luckiest kids in the world because we had the best dad ever," Katrina said.
Chris detailed his father's involvement with the Sydney Film Festival and how the family had to cut short a holiday when his new 1982 Landcruiser was delivered.
"He always encouraged us to follow our passions and do what makes us happy," he said.
"We were really lucky to have him and feel really ripped off that he's gone," Katrina said.
Best friend and CB radio buddy Manabu Maeshima's tribute sent from Japan was read to the congregation.
"Although he's passed away, he's still living in my heart," Mr Maeshima said.
Good mate, Kyogle RFS Deputy Captain David Aberdeen, said Peter was an invaluable member of the brigade "who was involved in pretty much everything".
"He was quiet by nature and that was a strength on the fire ground; you always knew he was watching your back," he said.
After commending his service and versatility, NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons presented Mr Witton's wife Francine with the NSW RFS Medal with two clasps in recognition of more than 30 years service and the Commissioner's Commendation for Service.
"We've all lost a great man, and today I say thank you to Francine, and to Katrina and Joe and to Christopher, for sharing your dad with our family, the NSW RFS," he said.
At the end of the moving service at the Kyogle Memorial Hall, a guard of honour was formed by RFS colleagues and dignitaries, as Mr Witton's coffin was loaded into an RFS troop carrier.
Bagpipes played as a procession of about 100 RFS volunteers, dignitaries, family and friends followed Mr Witton's coffin along Summerland Way.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Francine, son Chris, daughter Katrina and son-in-law Joe.