Cobar was saddened by the recent passing of Max Humphries, a man who gave over 50 years of his time to the town in a way very few people have done.
Sadly, the current COVID-19 restrictions on crowd gatherings meant the people of Cobar were unable to pay a fitting tribute to one of Cobar’s most loved, honoured and respected citizens at his funeral last Friday.
Max was born in Sydney in June 1928. As a young boy, he was a chronic asthmatic and his family, believing the drier climate of the bush would help him, sent him to live with an uncle on a sheep station near Walgett.
He grew up near Walgett, working on the land as a stockman before moving to Bourke and going into business as a photographer, working from his own photographic studio.
Max met Noelene in Bourke and they were married in 1963, about the same time they moved to Cobar where Max went into partnership with Mick Miller at Cobar Motors.
He also continued his love of photography and was in great demand for all the Cobar social occasions.
When the mines or the police wanted professional photos taken, they called on Max.
Weddings however were his specialty, and he developed his black and white photos in his darkroom at home.
Many Cobar couples who were married in the 1960s and 70s had their wedding photos taken by Max.
When they first came to Cobar the Humphries’ lived in Cornish Street and Noelene worked as a waitress at the Great Western Hotel. Then they moved to Elizabeth Crescent where they lived until the past three years when the couple became residents at the Lilliane Brady Village retirement home.
Both Max and Noelene were institutions in Cobar and, from the time they came to town, they were active in many aspects of Cobar life.
Max was part of Cobar Motors for many years, first in partnership with Mick Miller and then later with John O’Brien.
Phyllis O’Brien, who worked at Cobar Motors for many years, remembers Max as a wonderful boss.
Despite being a busy businessman, Max gave his time to many institutions in Cobar and will be long remembered for the countless years he served on local committees and clubs.
He was a foundation member of the Cobar Rotary Club when it formed in 1966 and continued as a member for many years, always a familiar sight at Rotary barbecues.
When the Rotary Club sponsored a beard-growing contest to add to the Cobar Centenary celebrations in 1969, Max entered into the spirit of the occasion by growing a beard in the contest.
Max’s father was a returned soldier from the First World War, having served at Gallipoli, and so Max was a keen supporter of the local cadets, through Rotary
The Rotary can collecting initiative was Max’s idea.
Sadly, it was at a Rotary sponsored event, a regatta in Nyngan in 1969, that their daughter Maxine was tragically drowned in the Bogan River when a passing speedboat swamped a small boat they were in.
Only three years old, Maxine was special light in their life and her death affected both Max and Noelene for the rest of their lives.
A member of Cobar Bowling and Golf Club for 45 years, Max served for 33 years on the club’s board, 28 of those years as president.
He was also honoured with Life Membership to the Golfie.
When the Club celebrated its 50th
anniversary in 2017, Max was acknowledged for his service to the club. When the club did major renovations in 2008 a bar in
the main function room was named in his honour.
Until the final years, Max was a regular sight at the Cobar Bowling and Golf Club on raffle nights, selling tickets at the end of the bar with Tom Chandler.
For many years Noelene did a lot of cooking for functions at the Club.
In his younger days, Max was an avid golfer and a keen bowler, representing Cobar
In April 2016, Max was presented with a NSW Seniors Festival Local Achievement Award by the then State Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries.
The award acknowledged people who made their communities a better place to live. Max Humphries certainly did that.
Max was heavily involved in the Brennan Centre Aged Care complex, another committee of which he was honoured with Life Membership. At times, Max would do much of the maintenance work at the centre himself, to save costs.
Noelene once said, if someone was looking for Max, “he would either be at the Club, the Brennan Centre or out doing Meals on Wheels.”
When you did find Max, not far behind him would be his constant companion, “Missy” a small mixed-breed dog.
Max and Noelene spent the last few years of their life at the Lilliane Brady Village where daughter Marea said they were very well treated and looked after.
Noelene died in November 2019.