Peter (Windy) William GALE
Born: Hawthorn, Victoria,
September 7, 1967
Died: Esperance, April 6,
2019 aged 51 years
PETER (Windy) William Gale will always be remembered as the livestock agent with the big hat and beaming smile.
Along with business partner Neil Brindley, the duo combined to forge one of the biggest livestock agencies in Australia - Landmark Brindley & Gale, Esperance.
This in itself was a very credible achievement, but unknown to many, Windy was not from a rural background, no connection whatsoever, so the sadness and grief that enveloped the State's rural community and more substantially the tight knit Condingup farming district (70 kilometres east of Esperance), when news of his tragic death was known, highlights the unique character and ability of the man.
The youngest of five children and only son of respected eye surgeon Dr David Gale and Dr Gillian Gale (AM), Windy grew up in the shadows of Glenferrie Oval, Hawthorn, Victoria and his love of the Hawthorn Football Club would be preordained.
The much loved baby brother of Jennifer, Carolyn, Bridget and Sarah, he enjoyed the spoils as the only boy in the family, with four over-protective sisters to fuss over him and the guidance of parents who were both leaders in their chosen fields - Dr Gillian Gale receiving a general division of the Order of Australia for her extensive work supporting the education of children with visual impairment throughout Australia, and both parents totally devoted to their five children.
Educated at Trinity Grammar School, Kew, from the age of seven, Windy excelled in mathematics and accounting, skills that he would utilise fully in the agency business in his later years.
A bond with a neighbour who owned a property in the Western Districts of Victoria, saw Windy in his mid-teens start to spend his weekends and holidays at the property and his entire year 11 holidays at another family friend's property at Portland, Victoria, helping with the shearing.
Despite the desire and encouragement of his parents that he further his studies at university, the die had been cast, no university for Windy!
In year 12 he applied for a position at Malcolm and Tamie Fraser's Nareen Station, Coleraine, western Victoria and was successful, starting in early 1986 - his love affair with all things agricultural and country had commenced.
He quickly rose to the position of stud stock overseer, a position that encompassed both the Hereford stud and the famous Nareen Merino flock.
His livestock abilities came to the attention of Brian Sharrock, a stud consultant working with Nareen, who made mention of the young stockman to David Webster, Kylie Poll Merino stud, Dudinin.
David had already noticed a young Windy at work at Nareen during a visit to the stud's annual ram sale and organised an interview in October 1987 at Hamilton, Victoria.
"Pete told me later that he 'prepped' for hours in the days before the meeting and was extremely nervous prior to the interview," David said.
He needn't have been.
David said immediately he could see the qualities in Windy, the passion for livestock and consequently it was a very short interview.
"It took less than 30 minutes," David said.
"I said it is a long drive across the Nullarbor, especially in that old Falcon ute of yours.
"I'll see you at Dudinin in a few weeks."
He started in December 1987 and stayed until early 1990.
As an aside, Windy was joined in mid-1988 at Kylie by an aspiring young jackeroo by the name of Stuart McCullough, the current chief executive officer of Australian Wool Innovation.
They remained friends for the next 30 years, both appreciating each other's individual career success through the agricultural industry.
Such is the interconnection of people across agriculture, particularly in WA, Windy's rural path took another turn in early 1990 when Neil Brindley, at that time key account manager for the Holmes à Court rural portfolio and senior stud auctioneer for Wesfarmers, was as he states, "seeking a young, energetic individual with exceptional livestock expertise and people skills to expand Wesfarmers profile in the stud Merino industry".
On the recommendation of then Wesfarmers stud stock consultant Preston Clarke, who said he knew of a young bloke working at the Kylie stud who had the attributes required, plus he also enjoyed a beer or two (a skill set that did have merit at that time), a single interview saw Windy don the green shirt for the first time.
Neil steadfastly refutes the claim Windy only got the job because they shared the same birthday of September 7!
Windy moved to Katanning in 1990 under the tutelage of Preston to show him the role of the agent in the stud and livestock industry, along with developing his marketing skills.
From his stud stock role Windy moved into the branch network and became a district representative at the Katanning branch, servicing the Woodanilling area and in the mid-1990s he was transferred to Narrogin as the senior representative, becoming branch manager in 1997.
Neil and Maureen Brindley and Terry and Dorothy Haddleton were given the opportunity in 1991 (Anzac Day) to take on Landmark's Esperance business, converting it from a branch to an agency and for the next decade through sheer hard work and ability, they built up a thriving business.
With Terry Haddleton's decision in 1999 to focus on real estate, the need for a capable successor to replace the very well-respected Terry in his livestock role was paramount.
Neil said he immediately thought of the bloke who shared his birthday.
Having tried to contact Windy for a few days, he was finding it difficult as Windy was always going early to work and home late - a familiar trait that he carried to his last day.
"In the end I left a message to attract his attention," Neil said. "Pete, give me a ring, you've just won Lotto!
"He rang next day, a few weeks later (May 1999), he moved to Esperance and I employed him for a second time."
In the beginning Windy serviced the northern areas of Esperance, up to Salmon Gums and on July 1, 2000, when Terry Haddleton left the livestock agency business, Windy became a partner in Landmark Brindley & Gale, servicing the Condingup area.
His work ethic, livestock knowledge, marketing skills, eye for detail and his people skills, the ability and willingness to fit into any situation that a client or colleague required, saw the business flourish.
On a personal level, now with new partner of six years Emma and her boys Ethan and Bailey, and the purchase of two neighbouring properties totalling 200 hectares at Myrup, just north of Esperance, his life was complete and full of happiness.
Client and friend (which was so often the case with his clientele) Neville McDonald, Beaumont, who delivered one of the tributes at Windy's funeral perhaps best summed up Windy's approach to life and the rural lifestyle he revelled in.
"He knew all of our dog's name, our kid's names," he reflected.
"A man that one day rubs shoulders with executives and the next day he is in the yards covered in dust and poo.
"He just wanted to help, be involved.
"He led us all on a great journey and we must keep going.
"He touched all our lives in so many ways, not just a mate - but OUR mate!"
Sincere thanks to Neil Brindley, Leon Giglia, Neville McDonald, David Webster and Preston Clarke for their contribution to this article.
THE big hat, the even bigger smile, the chubby red cheeks and that deep chuckling, genuine belly laugh (and there was a fair bit of belly to generate the laugh), with his pearly white teeth clenched together, the head tossed back a bit.... that's the image I hold tight of Peter 'Windy' Gale.
How is it possible to write a few paragraphs and sum up a bloke's life?
A bloody good bloke.
You can't - all you can do is skim across the path of his life and hope, trust, you can turn over a couple of images that his family, friends and acquaintances may relate to and remember.
Windy loved being a livestock agent (and a damn good one he was) and he loved being a part of the rural fabric - particularly Esperance and especially Condingup.
The fact he fitted the livestock agent persona so well was an incredible feat.
He was a 'silver spooner' from the leafy suburb of Hawthorn, Victoria, with a privileged upbringing - as a kid he wouldn't have even known that the big tall ones are called cows and the little fluffy ones are sheep.
But he found his niche with livestock and being an agent, he absolutely loved it, although I reckon he liked his clients more.
He loved the success that came the way of his clients, whether selling cattle, sheep or wool, their good fortune was his reward.
Whenever one of his clients featured in Farm Weekly for a top price at a sale, a couple of days later the phone would ring.
"TE....Windy; a couple of good photos of one of my clients in the Weekly this week, would you mind ordering me a couple of prints, 7x5 or 10x8, whatever you think - send the invoice to me".
He used to do that quite a bit.
I know he even went to the trouble of framing a few photos that he gave to clients.
He was as proud as punch that the McDonald family at Beaumont was selected to feature in our inaugural Farming Families special publication - one of his clients.
The mobile phone again.
"TE....Windy; some good photos of the McDonald family in that magazine, are we going to organise a few copies?
"Send me the invoice".
I never charged him for any photos.
How could you?
Windy wasn't trying to win friends, he genuinely was excited and proud of his clients' successes and he wanted to acknowledge that success and capture the moment.
Pretty thoughtful fellow that Windy.
His talents weren't limited to only livestock, many years ago I used to write a regular column in the Weekly, probably be sued if I wrote the same way today, but when I went on annual leave or was off on writing assignments, Windy used to fill in for me and write the column.
In the end I had to cut him out from the job - he was better at it than me.
His columns made mine look second rate.
A talented bloke that Windy.
A very deep thinker, he was renowned for 'pausing' mid conversation, his mind carefully mulling over a problem to find a solution, or cheekily crafting a witty one-liner to interject into the conversation.
That same thought process was obviously applied to his cattle brand, WH8, standing for Windswept Holdings 8 - the 8 representing the number given on the Beaufort Scale for a gale force wind.
Clever bloke that Windy.
In recent times he found that complete happiness that we all strive for and often never find.
He found the love of his life in Emma, and relished the responsibility of guiding and 'watching over' her two boys Ethan and Bailey.
The purchase of a 200 hectare property at Myrup, just north of Esperance was the icing on the cake for his agricultural love affair.
Unfortunately the future Windy and Emma planned together will never play out.
Their happy ending stolen, accidently cut short.
I saw Windy's coffin lowered into the earth.
That is the full stop on life.
But I still can't get my head around it, something's not right.
I want my mobile phone to ring and hear.... "TE....Windy".
But it won't ring.
And I'm gutted about that.
Keep smiling Windy, I'll see you further down the track.