A family tribute to Ernie Baxter

Wednesday 6 February 2013

A family tribute to Ernie Baxter

The following passage was written by Ernie's son Johnnie. Details of his funeral service are also provided.

Ernie Baxter - Born 13 April 1947 in Bairnsdale, Victoria.

Grew up on Melbourne, a budding artist who became a sign writer with his father, Ron, until he joined the Army on his mother's birthday.

He did his 'rookies' in Kapooka and served in two tours of Vietnam.

Whilst on a camping holiday break from the Army in Marlo, Gippsland, he walked into the Marlo pub. He told the girl serving him that he would marry her one day. She told him in not so many words to 'rack off'...three months later, Ernie married his Merilyn.

They raised three children together, Penni-Lea, Troy, and Johnnie.

Ernie served in the Army until '87 when he moved his small family to the town where he would call home until his end, Port Douglas.

Not long after moving here, he met his 'brother in crime' Andy Smith and the two of them founded the Port Douglas Football Club, the Crocs.

Ernie and his family hosted many a footballer who was new to town and needed a place to stay. Ernie and Mez's home became the unofficial club house and every Thursday night, under 8 Triton Crescent, with the juke box pumping, Ernie and Mez opened their home to the masses.

Years later he opened the Four Mile Beach Shack which quickly became THE place to be.

Ernie was a man who saw the good in humanity. Over the years he has raised more than $60,000 for various charities. For friends who were sick, the Ambulance service, the Coast Guard.

He has worked tirelessly with Legacy. You knew it was Legacy Week when Ernie Baxter tapped you on the shoulder to buy a badge, ruler, or pen.

His work was acknowledged when he was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Rotary Club. In the Year 2000 he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal by the Queen, Governor General.

In 1996, for all of his work and support he was presented with an award from the Australian Olympic Committee.

His greatest joys were his Merilyn, his kids, and his 'Little Monkeys', his grandchildren. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a mate, a best friend.

He was 'Silly Old', 'Honest', 'Mad Dog'.

A hero, a legend, a brave and strong man who fought against all odds until his end.

There will be a grave-side ceremony at Port Douglas Cemetary at 11am on Thursday (tomorrow) followed by a celebration of his life at the Port Douglas Football Club immediately after. All are welcome.

There will be a bus from Mossman leaving at 10.15am on Thursday. $10 per person. Call Coral Reef Coaches for details on 4098 2600.