"HENRY was a legend everywhere he went."
That is what Ipswich Greyhound Club president Merv Page had to say about his good mate, the late Henry Taylor.
It is a view held by everyone you speak to about the late 87-year-old Ipswichian, who passed away on January 4 after a life well lived.
Hundreds of people, including friends and family, attended his funeral at Bethany Lutheran Church in Raceview last Friday to celebrate a dear friend, husband and father.
Henry's family kindly gave the QT the eulogy that was read out at his funeral, and it is worth considering some key aspects of his life.
Henry was born in Brisbane on August 5, 1928, and went to school at Goodna and Riverview before acquiring a job at the Oxley meatworks at the tender age of 12.
He was an avid soccer player and continued to line up until his knees gave in around the age of 40.
He met his wife Shirley at a wedding. Shirley told her friend at the gathering: "See that man in the hat. I'm going to marry that man."
The couple married on July 12, 1952… Doomben Cup Day.
Three children soon followed - David, Ian and Tynee.
After purchasing a convenience store in the 1960s in Red Hill, Henry then moved back to Ipswich with his family and landed a job as a slicer at the Dinmore Meatworks.
Money was good, but strikes were frequent so the family obtained extra work picking potatoes, onions or beetroot.
Henry's civic values soon came to the fore at Dinmore where he established a social club for workers, which is still in existence to this day.
Henry became a union delegate and joined the ALP. He was a fixture at party meetings and at elections, where he handed out how-to-vote cards.
He met Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Ipswich Labor legend Bill Hayden, who he knew well.
Henry was well known for his love of greyhounds and trained them with great success.
The most famous was Henry's Folly, or 'Blackie', who was a dead-set legend at the greyhound track in Ipswich and won oodles of races across all distances.
Merv Page and Len Westphal bred Henry's Folly and sold him to Henry.
"Henry's Folly was really, really, really good," Merv recalled.
"He had a close affinity to Henry. They loved each other.
"He'd go past the winning post and race over to where Henry was standing.
"In those 431m races he'd go straight back to where they started from the boxes to where Henry was.
"That dog and Henry were just inseparable."
All greyhounds love a treat, and Henry's Folly certainly got his fill of them when his best mate was around.
"Henry used to give Blackie a Hava Heart ice cream after a race," Merv grinned.
"Old Henry would take the Hava Heart off the stick and give it to Blackie, and one night he grabbed it before he got it off the stick and ate the whole thing, including the stick.
"Henry was worried for ages…but Blackie finally passed it."
Blair MP Shayne Neumann knew Henry for 40 years and said he was loved and respected by all.
His work for his beloved Labor Party was constant and valued, and left a lasting impact on the Blair MP.
"He would be there at polling booths at Raceview and Flinders View with his pork pie hat on," Shayne said.
"He looked like someone out of those old police shows Matlock or Division 4.
"Everyone knew him, so when he was handing out the how to vote cards people would want to have a chat to him.
"When I started working at the meatworks as a cleaner in Dinmore my dad introduced me to him and said, 'This is Henry Taylor, the Labor man'.
"Henry was in the meatworkers union and was very active at state conferences and internal party units.
"He was a life member of that party and a member of my Raceview/Flinders branch of the Labor Party.
"He was a dyed-in-the-wool unionist and believed in the Labor Party and the labour movement.
"He was also a great supporter of Ipswich Hospice where he was involved in an enormous amount of fundraising for them."
Henry tended to the gardens for the hospice and ran stalls to raise money, which brought him much satisfaction.
He lived with wife Shirley at Raceview in later years after moving from Silkstone.
A devoted family man, after 60 years of marriage Henry renewed his vows to Shirley at a garden ceremony in 2012.
On top of his love of greyhounds, Henry was a keen punter and would venture down to the Raceview TAB to place his bets each Saturday afternoon.
As his health failed in later years, his son Ian would put the bets down for his dad.
Henry's last few selections, just days before he died, were winners.
Any way you care to look at it, Henry was a winner in life himself.
Merv Page said Henry was a man the world needed more of - a complete champion.
"Henry was a great bloke," Merv said.
"He was a great bloke at work. He was a great bloke at the greyhounds. He was a great bloke in the union movement. He was a great bloke anywhere.
"He was somebody that anyone's kids could look up to."
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