When Pat Williams fell from a horse while mustering on his family’s property, Woodleigh Station, Innot Hot Springs, he broke his collarbone and ribs but refused vehicle transport home, instead the then 89-year-old rode the remaining 8km on horseback.
It typified the type of person he was – tough and not one to complain.
Well known in horse racing circles across Far North Queensland and a patriarch of the Williams family, the grandfather-of-nine passed away last week aged 93.
Daughter Kate Waddell said her father was a private man who didn’t even want a eulogy read at his funeral.
“He was a true gentleman, in the best sense of the word,” Mrs Waddell said.
Born in Atherton on 18 May 1923, Mr Williams spent his formative years in Yungaburra where his family had numerous business interests including the hotel, butchery and abattoir.
Mrs Waddell said her father was sent to boarding school in Charters Towers but “ran away” to Abergowrie College at Ingham, where he much preferred the horses, cattle and station life on offer.
Mr Williams served in World War II in the transport department, with stints at Shaggy Rock in Papua New Guina and Borneo.
On his return from war, he started working for the family business becoming a cattle buyer. He also worked on properties including the Valley of Lagoons.
“With his good mate Jack Murphy he use to ride out to places like Millaa Millaa at 2am and pick out a beast and ride back to the saleyards by 6am for the start of the kill,” Mrs Waddell said.
Mr Williams developed a love of horse racing, following in the footsteps of his father Fred Williams.
A horse called Kerry Fox was among his most successful horses.
It won at numerous race meets across the region in the 1960s while others like Millstream (1960s) and Starlight (late 1970s and early 1980s) were also well remembered in the Williams stable.
His horses were regular starters at the iconic Mt Garnet Races when it was a grass-fed meet, while Mr Williams also served as president of the committee for many years.
His horses also raced at the Cairns Amateurs.
“He loved horses and cattle,” Mrs Waddell said.
Mr Williams married wife Clare in 1952 and the couple had three children – Campbell, Kate and Mark. Clare died in 2011.
Mrs Waddell said her father was a strong character.
“He never complained and was very accepting of whatever came your way,” she said.
A private ceremony will be held for Mr Williams on Thursday followed by a memorial at Woodleigh Station on Saturday from 10am.