That hundreds packed into St Joseph’s Church in Warrnambool, standing when there were no more seats, is testament to the man who always had a big smile, heart of gold and always made the time to stop for a chat.
A long-time Midfield employee, Pat was tragically killed at work on December 15 last year.
Pat was born in 1968 to Bill and Mary Smith. Growing up as the youngest of seven children on the family’s Yambuk property, it sparked a lifelong love of farming that continued throughout his life. It was as a young child at this family farm that he first met Colin McKenna, who was purchasing stock from his parents.
Pat left school at 15 to work as a shearer, before meeting his wife-to-be Kellie. It was on the way home from a working holiday in Queensland in 1991 that Pat became a Midfield employee.
“Interest rates were sky high and unemployment was through the roof and we were returning to Victoria without jobs,” Pat’s wife Kellie remembers.
“Pat pulled up at a phone box in Melbourne and called Colin. Colin said you can start on Monday.
“That was 27 years ago and Pat just loved his job. He left for 12 months to work with family at Rafferty’s but missed the work he was doing at Midfield so he returned.”
Pat began in loadout before moving into meat sales. He eventually became a livestock buyer and field officer, which included him undertaking Midfield’s first export of live cattle in 2011, to Kazakhstan.
“He absolutely loved his job. We used to laugh that he knew every farm’s gate from here to Adelaide, to Swan Hill and Echuca – he just loved it.
“He couldn’t care what size farmer you were, he just made time for everyone. We’d be on a holiday and he would walk out of a bakery we would never have been to before and say ‘I’ve just bought a load of cattle’.
“He would do 150,000 kilometres a year, one week doing Victor Harbour and Swan Hill, the next Victor Harbour, Echuca and Millicent.”
And while Kellie says he was notorious for speeding fines, Colin remembers Pat as much more than a field officer out on the road for Midfield.
“At a company level he was an integral part of our business, a livestock buyer and field officer who established our Friesian bull program.
“At a personal level I knew Pat all his life and he was like another son to me.”
Colin says the attendance at Pat’s funeral was evident of his popularity throughout the district.
“Pat had clients throughout the Western District, he covered an incredible area. It was obvious at his funeral how well he was respected as people came from far and wide to pay their respects.
“But above and beyond he loved his family. He just loved Kellie, who he was married to for 27 years, and their children Kayla, Tom and Mollie. He was extremely proud and just thought the world of them.
“The void left by Pat’s loss hasn’t been filled and we will struggle to fill it. You can’t replace friendship and full support and you certainly can’t replace Pat.”
A thank you from the Smith family
Thank you to all who have offered love and support since Pat’s passing. Thank you to Midfield and all Pat’s work colleagues for their ongoing support and guard of honour at his funeral. Thank you to Mollie’s colleagues in the boning room, the farming community and Pat’s many clients, we have been inundated with message of love and support, cards, food and flowers. Thank you to the police and ambulance officers for their care, compassion and respect and a special thank you to the McKenna family. Please accept this as our personal thanks.
Kellie, Kayla, Tom and Mollie Smith
‘Pat told me every day that he loved me so please do as Pat would do and tell your loved ones every day you love them’ – Kellie