Janie Hurley will never forget her larrikin brother Geoffrey ‘Gussy’ Reed and says his endearing spirit remains strong with her today.
On the night of Sunday April 29, 1979, Gussy died in a fatal crash on the Augusta Highway near Bird Lake, aged 23.
Janie remembers the night clearly, in particular the thoughts running through her head.
“How are we gonna handle this? How are you going to tell your parents? And of course I shed a few tears, for weeks and weeks on end,” Janie said.
“But it makes me harder now, it still makes me emotional talking about him but you just find a way that you move on.”
Making this situation more difficult was Janie and Geoff’s work. Geoff was a National Railways fitter and turner while Janie was a shop assistant for the Commonwealth Railways.
After seeing Geoff and his workmates come in for morning tea and lunch most working days, Janie would no longer enjoy the chance to see her older brother.
Geoff’s impact on the community, and in particular community sport, was strong as he played football for Central Augusta Football Club and cricket for West Augusta Football Club.
I think sometimes it's made me really hard, and you have to go out and put a smile on your face when you don’t want to, but you just had to back then.
Janie said those sporting clubs were vital for support during a testing time.
“He was heavily involved in football at Central Augusta, we just kept on going up there and being around people that you knew from here,” Janie said.
“It was really important, you got to have people around you.
“He was the person that lived life to the fullest, so you found that way to cope and move on.”
And to this day, Janie said she reflects on what could’ve been a wonderful life for Gussy.
“I think about him all the time, and when you have a family of your own, you think he’s missing out on the enjoyment of my children who now have children,” Janie said.
“And the same with his friends, they’ve got married and had sons, and he didn’t have that. I kept on thinking he’d want me to get over this and live life to the fullest and take my opportunities.”