The life of former Launceston Harbourmaster and history making Rotarian Charles Black was one filled with joy and unselfish giving.
Mr Black, husband of 43 years to Dorothy and father of Andrew, died after a stroke on October 31. He was 70.
At his funeral on November 6, his brother Tom recalled the Scotland of their childhood, with brother Tony and parents Tom snr. and (Australian) mother Hilda at a town called Dunoon, on a peninsula in southern Argyle.
Charles was known as Ted or Chas to his family, and his love of things maritime was signalled when at age five he came home from Sunday school enamoured by a Christmas carol, ‘Once in Royal Navy City.’
All things nautical were part of his life. He was always going to go to sea after watching ships on the River Clyde, brother Tom said.
Tom recalled Charles, sailing home during a storm, braced against the bow of their dinghy.
“If it was late, wet, cold and miserable coming into the Clyde estuary sailing into the wind and singing, he was never happier,” Tom said.
Charles Black was stoic, persistent, steadfast, practical and loyal.
He was also mischievous and stubborn and a man who valued precision.
His maritime journey and his desire for excellence took him from cadets, to his master mariners certificate, and to Liverpool where study earned him a Bachelor of Nautical Science.
In October, 1978, when he was master of a British cargo ship, he experienced a life defining moment.
BBC Radio 4 reported: “When the crew went to investigate they found 346 Vietnamese refugees crowded onto a sinking, rudderless fishing vessel. In a daring rescue that lasted hours in rough seas, every passenger was saved and eventually given refuge in Britain.”
“The rescue changed Chas, it was a defining moment,” Tom Black said.
Charles arrived in Tasmania in 1981 for a role with the Australian Maritime College.
He was quickly back at sea on oil rigs in the Bass Strait and the Timor Sea and finally, back to Tasmania as pilot at the Port of Bell Bay. But his life maritime wasn’t to be academic.
He rose to Port of Launceston Harbour Master under chairman Mac Kidd and was CEO and inaugural Harbour Master for Tas Ports.
He was a typical Scot, whose persistence reaped rewards on the golf course and whose generous personality gave him “the happy knack of picking up a conversation” even after a long while, Tom Black said.
Son Andrew said the pair had only just bought a new boat, where Charles, naturally, anticipated he would be both skipper and navigator.
The much-researched boat purchase was only recently finalised with Andrew now planning the first test sail, without his skipper.
“Almost every occasion with dad was filled with fun. He had a light- hearted disposition and he never took himself too seriously, despite his great achievements,” Andrew said.
“We might feel a bit cheated that he’s left us sooner than we would have liked.
“Dad was really a wonderful ‘pop’, singing along to Rod Stewart in the car or out in the boat.”
Grandson Campbell, seven, wrote that “My pop is playful and cheeky. I like going to play at Airtime with him. I enjoy going on his boat fishing and we love catching flathead. It is our favourite. He is from Scotland and has an accent.”
Mr Black was also a history-making member of the Rotary Club of Launceston: The first person to be president twice in the club’s 94-year history, he was a leader and a mentor with a twinkle in his eyes, Rotarian Colleen McGann said.
“In this day and age the word ‘love’ is not used often enough. We loved Charles.”
Mr Black is survived by his wife Dorothy, son Andrew, daughter-in-law Allison, grandchildren Campbell, Oliver, 5 and Isabella, 2.