Society places a lot of emphasis on an individual's background. Many people are written off even before getting a chance to prove themselves because of their past, their roots.
However, there are a few people who have proven time and again that everything is possible when you are aligned with your mission or purpose in life.
Such a person was Gordon Brian McCormack, OAM, who died aged 93 on the Sunshine Coast this month after devoting a lifetime of service to government in a variety of extension roles, including livestock and fisheries.
Born in Goodna, outside Brisbane, he answered the call to work on the land, buying a farm at Murgon in the early 1950s, a challenging life for a "boy from the city".
Although he adapted well to farming, which extended to dairying, peanuts and a piggery, 10 years of floods and drought took their toll and he joined the Department of Agriculture and Stock (now Primary Industries) as a field officer and dairy adviser in Murgon, so launching a brilliant career in rural extension.
Gordon was soon in charge of herd recording in the South Burnett where he introduced new ideas for growing better beef from improved pastures.
Ten years of this incredibly busy life led to management of the Artificial Insemination Centre at Wacol, near Brisbane.
"So, the teacher, scientist, farmer and cattleman became a scientist once again," son Brian recalled.
More night study brought Gordon's second degree, this time in Agricultural Economics from the University of New England at Armidale.
Then in 1974 came a six-week feasibility study in Afghanistan centred on milk supply for Kabul. Gordon was chosen team leader because of his work then with a new smaller breed of cattle, the Australian Milking Zebu.
"It was a wonderful adventure as well as a steep learning curve in a marvellous setting," Gordon said at the time.
"We were thrilled that the outcome was workable and was good enough to be on-sold to Iran."
Meanwhile, back home the state government was introducing the ground-breaking Fish Management Authority.
After completing a Master's Degree in Business Administration at UQ, Gordon McCormack was appointed inaugural secretary.
His time with the authority was a roller-coaster ride. A raft of new regulations for more sustainable fishing was almost universally opposed by trawler operators who resented "management by a bunch of dairy farmers".
It became clear that the authority needed more muscle, so a Department of Fisheries was established, and Gordon spent the rest of his working life there as CEO.
In retirement, he continued to work as a consultant on exciting overseas commissions for the dairying and fisheries industries, as well as travelling across Australia and Noumea with his wife, often accompanied by their children and grandchildren.
'Macca' is survived by his wife Norma, two sons, Bob and Brian, a daughter Sue, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
His service will be held at Gregson and Weight, 5 Gregson Place, Caloundra, at 10:30 am on Friday, November 24.
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