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Farewell Freddie

Wednesday, 10th April, 2013

Former BIC Secretary, the late Fred Smith, in his Trades Hall office with an old mate in the 1970s. Former BIC Secretary, the late Fred Smith, in his Trades Hall office with an old mate in the 1970s.

By Gayle Ball

Fred Smith, remembered by many as someone who wanted to see people get a fair go, passed away on Sunday after a long battle with illness.

The former Secretary of the Barrier Industrial Council (BIC) was described as a "good union man" by Vera, his wife of 57 years.

He was Secretary of the BIC from 1969 until his retirement in 1985 and he worked alongside the union body's second-longest serving President, the late Joe Keenan, with whom he formed a good friendship.

Fred's daughter Karen said her father was "very passionate" about mining companies looking after the communities from which they drew their wealth.

"He really had a bee in his bonnet about the mining companies giving back to the communities they took the minerals from," Karen said yesterday.

He also tried his hand in the Federal political arena, running for pre-selection for the Labor Party in the 1981 election.

Karen said despite securing 47 per cent of the votes, he lost because of preferences.

As well as an interest in winning better conditions for workers and a fairer deal from big companies, Fred was also a loyal family man and had four children - Christine, Karen, Fred and Peter - and 10 grandchildren.

When the Barrier Daily Truth interviewed Fred ahead of his 50th wedding anniversary in 2005, he said the secret to his happy union with Vera (nee Brewer) was working together and cherishing time spent with each other.

"We were young when we got married and, like most people, didn't have much money," he said. "You've just got to keep going."

Before working for the BIC, Fred was a fitter and turner on the South Mine. He was also a well-known boxer in his younger days and later a referee.

Fred spent a large part of his later years travelling between his house in Broken Hill and his shack on the Darling River at Menindee.

"He loved the bush and the simplicity of Menindee," Karen said. Fred was born on August 4, 1933 and was the only child of Frederick and Lillian. He passed away at the age of 79.

A funeral service will be held at the Wesley Uniting Church at 2pm on Friday.

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