Family was Ray's first love
THANKS to the dedication of one man, Biggenden has one of the best equipped rifle ranges in Queensland. But at age 63, Ray retired from the mines, only to do all the things he didn't have time to do before. This included breeding budgies, polishing stones, woodturning, furniture and clock making.
Ray Cook's love of the sport was highlighted at his wake after he died on May 12 aged 86 years. Garry Stark of Biggenden Bakery made a special cake in the shape of a rifle.
The Biggenden Rifle Club where he was a member since 1948 formed a guard of honour.
Ray was a strong influence in developing the Biggenden Rifle Range from a very basic war-time practise range into a modern competition range covering all shooting principles.
He was the club captain for 30 years.
Ray was born at the Biggenden Hospital on January 12, 1930, the third child of Jack and Gladys Cook. His early childhood years were spent growing up in a dirt-floored slab hut on the banks of Woowoonga Ck, Degilbo.
He attended Degilbo and Biggenden schools before going to work on his parents' dairy farm, where they also distilled eucalyptus oil from the lemon-scented spotted gums.
To put extra food on the table, Ray went trapping and shooting with his father and brothers. No doubt this is where his love of guns started.
In 1949, at the age of 19, Ray enlisted into the air force as an apprentice engine fitter until his discharge with TB in 1953.
Returning to Biggenden, he went to work at Jacobi's Garage as a motor mechanic.
He married Barbara Windeknecht on April 9, 1955 and in January 1956 a beautiful baby daughter, Christine Maree, was born. Tragically Christine suddenly passed away seven months later. They were devastated.
Ray threw himself into his work by starting up his own engineering and mechanical works.
In June 1960, Ray and Barb adopted Carolyn, followed by Raeleen in 1964 and their family was complete.
He supported the community through scouting, Biggenden Fire Services, and served a term on Biggenden Shire Council. He was awarded Australia Day Citizen of the Year in 2001.
His greatest achievement was to see his grandchildren successfully fulfil their dreams.
Through it all was Barb, the love of his life for more than 61 years.