HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Hervey Bay resident Dick Smith tells his incredible story on his 90th birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Hervey Bay resident Dick Smith tells his incredible story on his 90th birthday. Annie Perets

STORY OF: Hervey Bay man Dick Smith

HE SHARES a famous name but Hervey Bay's Dick Smith is more of a quiet achiever.

A psychiatric nurse of 24 years, he spent much of his professional life helping people through their darkest days.

This was a skill developed in childhood as he helped his mother, who had suffered the tragic loss of a husband and other children, get by.

Dick alongside Phyllis, aged 17, as she is crowned in a beauty contest.
Dick alongside Phyllis, aged 17, as she is crowned in a beauty contest. Contributed

As a result, his first foray into gardening, which would become a passion in later life, was out of necessity.

After learning the ropes of growing vegetables, his lists of tasks expanded.

"A friend of mum's built a couple of chicken houses, my job was to look after them,” Dick said.

"Then later I grew male chickens to feed us.”

Phyllis and Dick Smith in their early days of dating.
Phyllis and Dick Smith in their early days of dating. Contributed

After school, Dick went on to work at David Jones but decided retail wasn't for him and transitioned into the health sector.

"I heard about the health department wanting people to join while travelling on a train,” he said.

"I had all the necessary education for them to accept me, and then had to do a three-year course which was done in the hospital.”

He would go on to work with a long list of patients of all ages suffering from a variety of mental illnesses.

His 24-year career was spent working at the former Gladesville Mental Hospital, which was a psychiatric hospital located in NSW.

The hospital, which featured 24 wards, ended up closing shortly after Mr Smith entered retirement.

Speaking fondly of his working days, Mr Smith recalled treatment becoming more efficient over the years thanks to the introduction of new drugs.

Life was shared with wife Phyllis.

It wasn't love at first sight for the pair, as she was aged just 10 when they met while he was 18.

But when Phyllis was about 15, their relationship took a romantic turn.

Before long, Dick was by Phyllis' side as she participated in and won beauty pageant type events.

They married and welcomed their loved daughter, Glenda.

When they reached retirement, the couple began caravanning adventure around Australia and settled on their favourite destination - Hervey Bay.

They moved here in 2000 and enjoy living in their home at Fraser Shores where they celebrated Dick's 90th birthday at the weekend.

Gardening remains a mutual passion for the pair and as Dick says, it keeps his mind and body busy.

Bursting with colour and with Dick's favourite roses playing a starring role, the vibrant, romantic garden outside the couple's home is testament to their talent and love shared in their now 64 years of marriage.



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