Recently on the 27th November 2021, Primac Gurus President, Mr Richard Handley, rightfully represented our Association at the funeral service of the late Bruce Campbell AM MBE. Bruce Campbell joined Queensland Primaries Producers Cooperative Association in 1948, and was appointed General Manager in 1974. In 1975, when Primaries and Mactaggarts merged to form Primac he was appointed General Manager of the merged entity, and continued in that role until his retirement in 1983.
Bruce Campbells’ funeral service was held at the Pinnaroo Crematorium Chapel on Staurday the 27th November 2021.
A Eulogy of Bruce Campbells’ life, as read by a long standing family friend, Mr. John de Kloot.
BRUCE CAMPBELL 1931- 2021
Thank you, Beth, Duncan and Fiona, for giving me the privilege of saying a few words in Bruce’s memory.
May I introduce myself.
After WWII, a certain, Don Rutledge, accompanied my father to Longreach where he met and married Bruce’s sister, Valda Campbell. Don Rutledge was an uncle to my father, Jack, although Don was six months younger than Jack.
Confused – I am not surprised!
My siblings and I grew up with the Rutledge children and for as long as I can remember Bruce Campbell was a well known family identity.
Bruce Alpin Campbell was born at Longreach in central Queensland on 4th Sept 1931 , the night the Leichhardt Hotel and five other shops burned to the ground .
He was the youngest of four children. His parents Alpin and Eileen Campbell created a very happy family life, and surrounded by a wonderful community in and around Longreach Bruce grew up with a deep affection for Longreach, the Bush, and its people.
He attended the Longreach Primary school and then Scots College at Warwick, whose Headmaster at the time was a remarkable man – Mr. Jack Dunning – who commanded great respect and lasting affection, and had an enduring influence on the students.
In the 1940s travelling to and from school between Longreach and Warwick involved a train journey that took Bruce and his fellow students over two days and nights. They departed looking immaculate and arrived looking anything but. It was a young boys dream. If Bruce had not had a cigarette, (“durrie” in school boy parlance), by the time he commenced these train journeys, I bet he had by the time he left school !
When World War II broke out, John, the eldest in the family and Bruce’s two sisters, Valda and Joyce, joined up following in the steps of their Father Alpin, and Uncle Allan Campbell, who both served in the middle East during World War 1, in the Light Horse and Camel Corps respectively.
Much to the delight of the local small fry in and around Longreach, the Americans established an Air force Base in the town which occasionally offered opportunities for:- Aircraft spotting, an aircraft ride, and wait for it – chewing gum, and other entertainments.
I have been asked to focus my words on Bruce’s contribution to rural Queensland, and in particular to the wool industry in this State. In doing this I hope to recreate a little of the ethos within that industry, as Bruce would have known it, and as it may have influenced Bruce in his stella career, which went well beyond our boarders.
On leaving school Bruce joined Queensland Primary Produces Cooperative Association Ltd, known simply as, ‘Primaries’.
Bruce’s Uncle, Alan Campbell, had been instrumental in the establishment of Primaries and his Father, Alpin Campbell, had been manager of Primaries in Longreach for 23 years. The strong family association with the business did not present Bruce with any privileges when he joined the firm. Bruce began as office and messenger boy at the Brisbane headquarters.
In subsequent years Bruce worked in the Primaries and Grazcos wool departments learning the art of valuing wool. Remember that in those years there was no objective measurement of wool. Wool was valued by visual observation of fibre crimp, lustre, length, colour and vegetable matter, and by tactile observation of softness and soundness. Wool valuing was a specialist job, with the grower placing auction reserves on his clip according to the valuation given to him by his Broker.
Bruce learnt the skill of wool auctioning, which I think I am correct in saying could go as low as a penny a bid, so one had to have a very agile mind in a competitive market place.
Not only did Bruce learn the Agency side of the wool industry, he also did time as a rouseabout in shearing sheds and as a shed classer, so Bruce was well established in the wool industry at the time of the Korean War wool boom of the mid- 1950s.
Although short lived, these were very exciting times to be involved in wool. Couple to this, the way business was done between wool broking agencies, such as Primaries, and wool producers, whereby personal relationships were established and valued, and business conducted on the shake of a hand, would have been instilled in Bruce at this time. As a wool producer your relationship between yourself and your Agent and, might I add, your Bank Manager were very important.
In those days business was not done on the party phone line! It was conducted by personal contact with those whom you trusted.
At or about the time Bruce.became General Manger of Primaries in 1974 and I am sure for many years beforehand, there was a lady, and I think her name was Claire, who had a desk just as you got out of the lift in the old Primaries building on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets. Claire knew every Primaries client from Toowoomba to Thargomindah and from Bellon to Burketown. She was an absolute gem of a lady. She not only arranged all your meetings at Primaries, but she would also make any appointment you needed in town – from theatre tickets to the Chiropodist.
Moreover, in those days your Wool Broker could be asked to meet western kids off the plane and deliver you back to boarding school.
Such were the times when Bruce began to significantly influence the direction of Primaries, which through an amalgamation with Mactaggarts ultimately became Primac Limited. During Bruce’s tenure as General Manager and Director of Primac the floor price for Australian wool was established and operated for 16 years.
Bruce’s influence extended beyond just Queensland. From 1979 to 1981 Bruce was President, The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia.
From this background of the way Bruce would have been influenced by how business was done in rural industry, and by the way he chose to interact, network and lead people, when Bruce left Primac Ltd in 1983 he continued to make a wonderful contribution to Queensland and indeed Australia.
Today we have heard acknowledgements of Bruce’s leadership and involvement in Life Saving, in Expo ’88, the Year of the Outback, and the Droughtmaster Cattle Breeders Society. Bruce had a great capacity for what is now known as lateral thinking. He had the gift for detailed planning and the ability to enthuse others to accomplish his vision. He believed that whatever you undertook you must carry it out with enthusiasm, efficiency, and dedication
This brings me to what will be my enduring memory of Bruce, which I believe is the commonality of us all here:-
We have all had the privilege of knowing a man with a very strong presence. The presence exuded by Bruce did not come from a large physical build, a loud voice, or a dominating disposition, BUT from a quiet confidence in his achievements, a conviction that his chosen direction was true and just and worlhwhi/e, and by his ability to make one, or many, around him to feel comfortable, important, and that he was interested in you.
Bruce indeed had a remarkable life, known not only for his achievements, but as importantly for him, in what he gave back to the community. It is not possible to do all the things he did, at the level he did them, if it was not within him to /earn, to aspire, to help, to give, and ultimately to lead.
You have heard today very loving commentaries from Bruce and Beth’s two children, Fiona and Duncan. It reminds us that in this life it is entirely possible to lead a very full life in the public domain, but also to nurture your family along their road to successful lives.
I am sure it is a sentiment shared by all of you, but I am so grateful to have had a few chats with Bruce along the way, to be aware of what he achieved in his lifetime, and to have known one of nature’s true gentlemen.
Thank you. (John te Kloot) 27/11/2021
Certainly a sad but memorable occasion to bring some staunch Primaries people together:
A sad meeting of some “Primaries Gurus”. Richard Handley, Roma 1966, Brian Peake, Cunnamulla 1968, Glen Dunn, Brisbane 1955, Jocelyn Dunn and Mrs Beth Campbell. Lots and lots of reminiscing and great memories revisited. “Rest In Peace” Bruce.
Read more of Bruce Campbells’ story in this link to a recent Queensland Country Life article. Thanks to journalist and fellow Primac Guru Helen Walker for the story.