Tributes flow for meat co-op chief

AS NEWS of the passing of Keith Francis Gooley spread across the Northern Rivers, tributes flowed for the widely respected former general manager of the Northern Co-operative Meat Company in Casino.

Described as ‘down to earth', ‘courageous' and ‘det-ermined', Mr Gooley used his position at the meatworks for the community's benefit, rather than his own.

His friend of 78 years, Gordon McNaughton, remembers Mr Gooley would often use mechanics at the meatworks to repair rescue equipment for his much-loved Evans Head Surf Lifesaving Club, where he was later made a life member.

“He was also an excellent sportsman who was verydetermined and courageous given his size,” Mr McNaughton said.

Mr Gooley, who passed away at the Lismore Base Hospital on Monday after a long illness, began his career as an office clerk at the co-operative as a green 15-year-old, working his way through the ranks to become general manager until his retirement in 1987.

“He was a really nice bloke who was well respected by employees at the meatworks,” Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan said.

John Barber, a friend and co-op board member during much of Mr Gooley's time at the top, said the reason the doors of the Casino-based co-op remained open today had much to do with the hard work of Mr Gooley.

He remembers during one board meeting while the meatworks were being renovated when the foreman rushed into the room to tell them a railing had given way.

“The look on Keith's face will stay in my mind forever. Pausing for a moment after the shock, the first thinghe said was ‘is anybodyinjured?”

“His first thoughts were always for his employees.”

Mr Gooley was later awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the meat industry.

Family friend and Lismore MP Thomas George said Mr Gooley had ‘dedicated his life to his family and his industry'. “He is recognised not only as an industry leader in Australia, but also throughout the world,” Mr George said.

Mr Gooley, who will be laid to rest today at The Richmond Chapel in Goonellabah, is survived by his children, their spouses and 10 grandchildren.

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