THE sign in front of their neat Springfield Lakes home said everything about Bob and Cathy Lawton: Welcome to Poppy's - where memories are made and grandchildren are spoilt. Open 24 hours.
Loving parents, devoted grandparents, caring neighbours - the Ipswich couple were loved and respected by all who knew them.
The Lawtons, both in their late 50s, were among 239 passengers feared dead when their Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared over the South China Sea off Vietnam on Saturday.
The flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
They had been travelling with their close friends, Rod and Mary Burrows, from Middle Park, on the trip of a lifetime to China.
Neighbour Matt Cash, who lives two doors down from the Lawtons, said he and other neighbours were shocked by the news.
"They say God has a plan, but you have to wonder when awful things like this happen to good people like Bob and Cathy," he said.
"You never expect things like this to happen so close to home ... it would have been such a terrible way to go."
Mr Cash, 31, described the Lawtons as caring, welcoming and always cheerful.
"They were the second residents to build on this street, so some of us knew them well.
"They would always offer to keep an eye on our house if my partner and I ever went away for a while.
"And if I was out the front watering the yard, they would never pass by without offering a friendly hello."
Mr Cash said he and Bob would often chat about gardening and was always envious of how immaculate the grandfather kept his lawn.
Bob and Cathy Lawton had three daughters - Amanda, Melissa and Glenda - and two grandchildren.
"I've talked with a few residents in the street about what happened to Bob and Cathy," Mr Cash said. "Those who knew them are especially upset."
Cathy's last comment on Facebook was "Off to China".
Ipswich councillor David Morrison expressed his sadness at the news of the missing Springfield couple.
"If there is anything my office can do to help their family in this sudden loss all they have to do is ask," he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said six Australians had been confirmed on the flight's manifest.
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