Lifestyle

Boat-builder Don Parke downs tools for last time

LABOUR OF LOVE: Don works on his replica of the America’s Cup winner.
LABOUR OF LOVE: Don works on his replica of the America’s Cup winner. Rob Williams

DON Parke treasured two great loves in life: his family and building boats.

The 86-year-old could often be found out the back of his Raceview home building or repairing wooden boats with uncompromising craftmanship.

Don started building small boats from the age of 14, gradually working his way up to much bigger powered cruisers and sailing catamarans.

It was a passion that lasted more than 70 years and one that saw the great-grandfather build about 50 vessels.

At family gatherings, Don was always keen to update relatives about his boats and proudly reveal his ambitious plans for future projects.

His dream was to create a scaled-down replica of the vessel that took out the inaugural America's Cup.

In preparation, he spent several years carefully researching and planning for the project before he started crafting the skeleton of the 10m schooner.

Don believed boats had souls and he had a need to nurture those souls.

For that reason, he always built his boats from wood, because it was a living material.

On occasions he was assisted by his late wife of 31 years, Tricia, who shared his enthusiasm for boating and woodwork.

The retired couple had planned to sail the replica schooner around Moreton Bay, living on board several days at a time.

Sadly, old age and rheumatoid arthritis slowed Don down and he wasn't able to complete his labour of love before he died earlier this month.

But he was able to keep his passion alive, continuing to make adjustments until the very end.

An only child, Don was born in Brisbane on February 6, 1928, to Charles Parke and Rosa Page.

Don's passion for boats was enriched by spending his early years fishing and sailing.

During his childhood, he won numerous sailing races as a junior and was often featured in the local news.

Don is survived by three sons, six step-children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren - with one more on the way.

He married three times - to Delma and Margaret before Tricia.

Don's youngest son Anthony Parke said he would fondly remember how his dad taught him to sail and the countless hours Don spent tinkering away in his workshop.

"He was a real handyman, always fixing things," he said.

"He was also a bit of a character too and enjoyed joking around with others."

Above all, Anthony said his father was a very likable man and would be dearly missed by all who knew him.

Celebration of life

  • Donald Eric Charles Parke
  • 1928 - 2014
  • Known for his work constructing about 50 hand-built boats.
  • Believed boats had souls.

Topics:  obituary




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'I just thought all mums got no sleep'

MELTOPIA battled PND with all four of her children.

4 survival tips for mummas heading back to work

The few reminders every working mum needs to read.

'I apologise every day that I am not the person he married'

My battle with postnatal depression...

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Breaking: Ninth case of black lung is confirmed

Section of a coal worker's lung showing black lung disease with progressive massive fibrosis.Contributed

A 62-year-old underground miner has been diagnosed with black lung.

Roar training adds to Joe’s NPL quality

Western Pride footballer Joe Duckworth.

Duckworth thrives on extra work

Latest deals and offers

Arts and culture get a boost in council budget

HAPPY CAMPER: Council’s culture boss Cr Charlie Pisasale will be delighted $400,000 has been allocated for a business case investigation for IPAC.

IPAC at the forefront of councillor's agenda

Burnett Heads housing development approved

COUNCIL APPROVED: A Burnett Heads housing development has been approved by Bundaberg Regional Council. Photo Contributed

Councillors approved the development seven votes to four