GRAHAM Cooper has uttered many R words numerous times in his 40-year agricultural career.
Research, retail, regional communities, reciprocation and recognition - even a bit of red for Elders, with whom he's had a 23-year joint venture partnership - have all rolled off his tongue at some point.
But none as significant as that which he uttered last week - retirement.
His wife Kerry referred to it as a Clayton's retirement and most friends and colleagues don't believe it will actually happen either.
How can this "gruff bear" who's been a community-minded force of nature at work and at play for more than four decades, including being awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2017 for service to local government and the community, of Cunderdin, pull up stumps and call it quits. Does he even have a stop button they ask.
But the man they call Coops, or by his own admission on occasion the "fat controller", the "enforcer" or the "dozer", co-principal with wife Kerry of Elders Farmways Cunderdin and Elders Farmways Dowerin, maintains it's true.
And to prove it he recently hosted, with the support of his family, a "little function" of thanks - which saw almost 200 people in attendance, mostly local farmers, at Pagoda Resort, South Perth.
"It's ended up bigger than Ben Hur - just about every bugger I invited has turned up... unfortunately," Mr Cooper said.
"Obviously no one was going to miss a good feed and drinking some free grog on me," he added, gesturing to the open bar.
"But in all seriousness, this is about thanking family, loyal clients and colleagues that have helped me along the way and been such an important part of our life and our business."
While Mr Cooper will now be swapping his retail hat for perhaps a fishing, footy or golfing number more often, he won't be walking away entirely from his red epicentre.
In a changing of the guard, youngest son Aaron who had a 10-year career with Elders at Wyalkatchem and Moora and has been home for five years, will be taking on the role of managing director of the family business and continuing the Elders partnership.
So Mr Cooper knows he won't be too far removed from the temptation of poking his nose over the counter to provide some "meaningful" advice.
The importance of family to Mr Cooper was something that came through top of the list from every speaker on the night and the strength of the relationship was reflected by the banter between him, his wife Kerry and sons, Wade, a former army lieutenant colonel, Ryan, a paramedic in the Air Force and Aaron, on the night.
Other standout qualities highlighted were Mr Cooper's community mindedness, his doggedness when fighting for funding and support for country towns, his unflinching quest to stay on the path he believed was the right one on any issue even when others could not always see his vision, while at the same time having an ability to lead and take others on the journey with him, his generosity in imparting knowledge and providing training and advice particularly to younger people, his loyalty, integrity and sense of humour and being tough as nails but soft as butter.
Tim Shackleton, former chairman of the Wheatbelt Development Commission, remembers Mr Cooper as one of the best he's worked with.
"In his time on the board, Graham - despite being a proud resident of Cunderdin - never let parochialism or self interest get in the way of his decisions, always looking at the bigger picture and the greater good for the whole Wheatbelt region," Mr Shackleton said.
"He had the great ability to take information given, process it, take out what he needed and then make the right decision or find the best solution to whatever issue was on the table."
The Nationals WA Central Wheatbelt MLA Mia Davies spoke for both herself and former The Nationals WA party and parliamentary colleague Brendan Grylls, with whom she said Mr Cooper shared a similar leadership style.
"You are a pretty special bloke, who - even if the tide was against you - would continue to stand up for your principals," Ms Davies said.
"We fought some ding dong battles together but even when people disagreed with you, you still managed to garner their respect and I think one of your great legacies is the Cunderdin Hospital project."
But Elders WA rural products specialist - crop protection, Brendon Joss felt Mr Cooper's greatest legacy, with help from Kerry, was "in grooming Aaron into a highly capable manager to take over the family business".
"Similarly, you have mentored countless Elders staff over the years, me included," Mr Joss said.
"You are a legend of the agricultural world, someone who may have held different professional views at times, but who always had respect.
"In proposing a toast to you, I say good seasons come and go, but friendships last forever and I wish you all the best."
As a town kid born in Busselton, Graham Cooper's life was not set for an agricultural path.
But that changed when he studied agricultural science for Leaving and took a soil and water conservation job at the Department of Agriculture (now DPIRD) at Moora in 1968.
A transfer to Northam seven years later led him into its plant breeding and research trials section, with responsibility for selecting trial sites for both seed varieties and chemicals, liaising with farmers and researchers and overseeing seeding and harvest of trial varieties.
In 1990 to 1991, Mr Cooper had a career change - moving to Hannafords seed cleaners based at Katanning but extending as far south as Esperance, before the opportunity emerged to buy the SBS business in Cunderdin, run as a subset business of SBS Tammin.
He later bought into SBS Kellerberrin with business partner Scott O'Neill, which was the start of the Farmways trading name.
The Coopers remained at Cunderdin and the joint venture with Elders started with an approach from former general manager merchandise, Darryl Dent, in 2000.
"It allowed Elders to move into a region in which they weren't very active, having exited some years earlier, and it gave us the buying power of a big network so we could offer more competitive prices to our customers," Mr Cooper said.
"There were certainly some pretty tough times in the very early days of starting a new business from scratch.
"But this region and the people here have been very good to us and tonight is about saying thank you."
Mr Cooper said the biggest changes he had seen in his time, apart from farms getting bigger and people getting fewer in the bush, were the advent of new crop varieties and chemicals, particularly the increase in canola which now accounted for about 25pc of their business, no-till cropping methods and that most plant breeding and trial work was now done by independent companies, not DPIRD.
But the need to order product well and be able to supply when required, as well as provide good and loyal service to clients was something that had not changed.
Elders Farmways Cunderdin and Elders Farmways Dowerin deals in merchandise, seed and fertiliser products and has the services of a resident agronomist available to clients.
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