Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Leo Had a Passion for All Facets of Life

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Leo Had a Passion for All Facets of Life

Article excerpt

THE life of Leo Cantwell was centred on his faith, family, community, sport and the farm.

He loved the rural life, was associated with the customs and spoke the language.

In the manner of his farmer's language aLeo was a tall straight tree in the forest of human rural philosophya.

Until his last few years when he experienced health problems he had spent his whole life on the family farm at Wheatvale which was carved out from virgin land by his parents Pat and Liz Cantwell and their predecessors.

Leo either walked or rode a horse to and from Bony Mountain State School.

In times of flood and impassable roads neither teacher nor student went to school.

In those days parents had to provide the school building while the government was responsible for the teacher.

On leaving school at the age of 13, Leo worked on the family farm with his brothers Brian and Vince.

Pat Cantwell died suddenly when Leo was 17 and Liz took the reins. Under her guidance the boys developed the farm into a larger dairy and pork and bacon production unit.

They employed the latest breeding and feeding techniques to increase production and quality.

While the main milking machine of the era was a well-known brand called MDKs a mum, dad and the kids, the Cantwells had mechanical milking machines which saved much labour time.

The Cantwells bought a truck and started a business providing firewood to families in nearby towns.

It is well recorded that Leo and his brothers would provide wood free of charge to families experiencing financial difficulties.

They would quietly tell such people to let them know when they needed more and the cost would be the same (nothing). The Cantwells did not publicise their generosity.

Liz Cantwell had a good sense of humour and she delighted in telling how Leo had a deep respect for history.

He was born right outside the Sandy Creek hotel, not waiting until his parents reached the Warwick Hospital.

Liz would tell folks that the reason Leo called in at the pub on his way home was to pay his respects to his birthplace. While he was there, he would help the barley growers of Queensland improve their sales by having a glass of beer or two.

Leo fell in love with a girl called Rita Neale whose father Billy Neale was well known in the district having achieved the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Messines in France during World War One.

Leo and Rita were married at St Patrick's Church at Allora in 1953 and stayed together for nearly 60 years.

The happy couple settled on the farm at Wheatvale and raised six children: Kathy, Jenny, Liz, Mick and the twins Anne and Rita. Their children were a source of pride and satisfaction to them both.

He spent the last few years at Akooramak in Warwick where his room was filled with family photos alongside pictures of prize cattle and pigs a he was immensely proud of them all. …

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