Ken Gazzard leaves lasting legacy

Much-loved Mount Gambier businessman Ken Gazzard achieved the perfect recipe in life by seamlessly combining his family and work life.

The patriarch of the prominent Carlin and Gazzard vehicle dealership, Mr Gazzard died on July 12 at the age of 91.

Mr Gazzard was born in Casterton on October 21, 1929, the second child of Harold and Annie.

His grandfather owned the Casterton News, which his father took over in 1947.

Mr Gazzard completed Form 3 at Casterton High School and went on to Longerenong Agricultural, before deciding a future in farming wasn’t for him.

He returned to Casterton and obtained work at the Casterton News, learning how to print as well as doing odd jobs around the building.

Mr Gazzard left the News in 1949 and bought a truck to spread superphosphate, before purchasing a milk round and then adding a bread round. As his work was finished by lunchtime he then worked as a printer after 5pm.

If that workload wasn’t enough he started working with Harry Hillier selling vehicles, eventually giving away the milk and bread rounds to concentrate full time on car sales in 1954 and selling 100 vehicles a year.

His cousin Arthur Carlin, who was working for a Melbourne car auction firm, then approached Mr Gazzard and suggested that while it was good to sell cars, he should be learning how to buy them.

This prompted Mr Gazzard to move to Christies in Melbourne, working in the country during the week. He bought seven or eight cars in his first week, more than any of his colleagues that week.

It was during this period he met his wife Lorraine at a woolshed barbecue in Casterton. The couple was married at St Columba’s Catholic Church in Elwood in 1957.

That same year Mr Gazzard and his new bride moved to Mount Gambier to become Sunshine Motors’ manager, bringing in fresh cars from Melbourne and attracting a lot of interest.

In 1958 Mr Gazzard joined with another cousin Col Carlin, who also worked at Christie’s, to purchase a car yard in Elizabeth Street. The duo worked together until 1980 before Mr Gazzard purchased Mr Carlin’s half of the business.

During that time the Gazzards had welcomed six children, Chris, Peter, Michael, Cathryn, Paul and Matthew.

The Gazzard family bought the current Commercial Street site in 1986, adding to the holding over the coming years and expanding to offer 12 vehicle brands.

During his working life Mr Gazzard prided himself on his family, with Mrs Gazzard and five of their six children working in the dealership.

His children remember many happy times spent on the water, whether it be enjoying the family houseboat at Donovans, water skiing or swimming.

Mr Gazzard also had a keen interest in racehorses, teaming up with Denis McNamee and winning more than 300 races.

In the early 1970s Mr Gazzard joined the Mount Gambier Racing Club committee, meeting then president Allan Scott and forming a life-long friendship.

Mr Gazzard remained on the committee until the early 1990s and was made a life member of the club.

In his later years, Mr Gazzard enjoyed many more family and business celebrations and spent many hours in the managing director’s chair at Carlin and Gazzard.

One of the highlights was his 90th birthday celebration in the dealership’s newly developed service centre where James Morrison entertained. Mr Gazzard often said it was the best party ever.

Earlier this year he moved into Boandik Lodge where he spent his final months, with his family ensuring he still made regular trips to his much loved dealership.

In 2008 Mr Gazzard wrote his biography, simply titled “My Story” with his niece Jeanette Hill.

In it he wrote of his love for his family and how they had worked together to build such a successful business.

“On the personal side, I have been very fortunate … Lorraine is a wonderful wife and mother and we have had a great marriage of over 63 years,” he wrote.

“I am very proud of my six children and all the grandchildren. I would also like to acknowledge my daughters-in-law and son-in-law … they have been a great support over the years and are much loved members of our family.

“I am very proud of the business we have created and, most importantly, our family, and I wish our children and grandchildren continued good health, happiness and success in the years to come.”

Mr Gazzard is survived by his wife, six children, 14 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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