On 28 March, Resthaven Riverland Community Services client, Mr Leslie ‘Les’ Voigt, celebrates his big 100.
Growing up in Robertstown, in the mid-north of South Australia, on his father’s farm, Les developed his skills in handy work.
‘We had a mixed farm on 640 acres, so we had a lot to do each day,’ Les says.
‘I enjoyed school, particularly maths, but I left after grade 7 to work on the farm full-time.’
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Les joined the Australian Army at 18 years of age.
‘I started as a foot soldier, but soon transferred into transportation. A group of us would cart the goods to Alice Springs, a four-day trip from where we were, as there was no railroad back then.’
‘After some time, I worked in petrol supply, going between bases where needed. I learnt a lot back then, and a lot about myself.’
During the war, a group of soldiers, Les included, camped out at Cheltenham Racecourse in Adelaide, and made their way over to the local dances.
‘I met my dear Muriel – Mickie, we called her. She was with a group of her friends, and I was with mine, but they all caught the train and we both hung back. The rest is history.’
Les and Mickie married once the war ended, in 1946, settling down in a house of their own in Robertstown where Les worked for the local council. The family grew with four children, one sadly deceased, and then Les and Mickie decided to move to Adelaide for the kid’s education and job opportunities.
‘She did a great job at looking after our three children, and I got myself into the car business with Chryslers.’
Eventually Mickie also got a job at Chrysler Australia and Les and Mickie stayed there for the rest of their working life, Les becoming a ‘leading man’ and Mickie doing upholstery work.
‘Mitsubishi took over then and gave us all a reasonable package to retire. I didn’t mind though, I ended up doing handy man jobs here and there for a bit of extra cash.’
During this time, Les and Mickie had bought some land and built a shack at Wellington on the Murray River. Liking the river so much they eventually sold their house in Adelaide and moved to Wellington in 1982.
Les and Mickie’s children had grown up, and so they bought a caravan, and travelled across Australia.
‘This was the best time of our lives, we used to “chase the summer”, and stay in Queensland during the miserable, winter months, and then go where the wind would take us.’
Mickie kept a diary of their travels, and when she passed away, Les took her notes, and started writing his autobiography, currently being printed for his family.
It was during their caravan trips that Les and Mickie decided to move from Wellington to Loxton in 1990 to be closer to the shops and doctors and still be on the river.
Sadly, in 2008 Mickie passed away and now, Les still resides in Loxton, having lived independently up until recently.
Les looks forward to celebrating his milestone with friends and family at the Loxton Uniting Church for morning tea.
Many happy returns, Mr Voigt.