Tributes flow in
Thursday, 24th June, 2010
Tributes are flowing in for well-known local grazier Rob Seekamp after he was tragically killed in a plane crash.
Mr Seekamp has been remembered as a quiet but tireless worker, a voice for graziers in the western region and a loving father and husband of five children.
The close-knit Pastoralists Association of West Darling (PAWD), AgFair and the local member, John Williams, have all expressed sadness and shock at the death of Mr Seekamp, a third generation grazier.
The body of Mr Seekamp, 57, was found in a lake on his property, Woolcunda, by South Australia Police divers yesterday afternoon, along with the partially-submerged wreckage of his aircraft, a Cessna 172.
Mr Seekamp was last seen at around 9am on Monday when he took off in the plane from an airstrip on his property, about 120 kilometres south of Broken Hill. When he failed to return later that day an Australian Maritime Safety Authority air search and ground search was started.
The nation's air transport search team, 47 aircraft, including aircraft with night vision capability, scores of State Emergency Service workers, trained spotters, people on motorbikes, police from NSW, SA and VIC, ambulance personnel from SA, NSW and VIC and locals took part in the two-day search which covered more than 1,000 square kilometres centered on Woolcunda.
Mr Seekamp was the immediate past president of the PAWD and the vice chairman of AgFair.
He was the immediate past president and life member of the Nanua Picnic Race Club and the chairman of the Wentworth Branch of the NSW Farmers Association.
He was an experienced pilot, flying for more than 40 years.
Current PAWD president Sue Andrews said Mr Seekamp was a tireless worker for the grazing community.
"He was very well respected in the district (and) I think he'll be very greatly missed," Mrs Andrews said.
"He was a hard worker for the Western Division and nothing was ever too much for him. He tried his hardest to do everything for everyone."
For three years Mr Seekamp held the PAWD reins, working on issues surrounding the Silverton Wind Farm, graziers rights in relation to mines and drought funding. He was also instrumental in affiliating the PAWD, a 100 year organisation, with Australia's peak national farming body.
"He achieved quite a lot," Mrs Andrews said.
"One of the biggest things he did I suppose was instigating the affiliation with
the National Farmers Federation.
"It's a big thing for the PAWD. It gives us top level support."
COMMITTED TO THE WEST
The Member for Murray-Darling, John Williams, said Mr Seekamp was a committed parent and husband and his death was a tragedy and a great loss.
"The death of Rob Seekamp will leave a huge hole in the grazing community in Western NSW," Mr Williams said.
"Rob had been an active supporter for graziers in remote areas and spent a lot of time with the ICPA.
"He has been a voice for graziers in Western NSW.
"He's been a committed parent and committed to the education of his children.
"My sympathy goes out to his wife, Vicky, and his children who I know will be missing him greatly."
Mr Williams said Mr Seekamp was a wonderful person.
"He was a quiet achiever he was a great guy," Mr Williams said.
"He just took everything in is stride and never missed a beat.
"It's a massive loss - a man of his calibre and his nature - the loss is even greater."
The chairman of AgFair, Kevin Taylor, said Mr Seekamp had been on the committee for two decades and was a great supporter of AgFair.
"Rob will be sorely missed. He was a tireless worker. Rob was a guy that nothing was too much trouble for him," Mr Taylor said.
"He attended all the (AgFair) meetings and it was a fair way for him to come but he always made a point of it.
"It is an absolutely tragedy and it's pretty hard to come to terms with at the moment."
Mr Taylor said he was a quiet but great achiever.
"He didn't say very much but you could rely on him. He was very much a quiet achiever," he said.
"He was a guy that used to nothing was too much trouble. He always made sure he was right in there giving a hand.
"We just wish his family all the best and it's pretty obvious what they would be going through. Whatever we can do we will and we wish them all the very best."
CHILDREN'S EDUCATION ADVOCATE
Ross Andrews, a fellow grazier and long time friend of Mr Seekamp, was invovled in the search since Monday and said it had been emotionally tough.
"I felt it was heartfelt duty to spend the time looking for Rob," Mr Andrews said.
"It was very tough. I had to step aside today as I was emotionally taxed."
Mr Andrews said Mr Seekamp had children's education at heart.
He was the co-ordinator of the Volunteers for Isolated Children's Education (VICE), past president of the Broken Hill branch of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association (ICPA), past president of the NSW State Council ICPA, life member of the NSW branch of the ICPA and past council member of the Federal Council of the ICPA.
Mr Andrews said Mr Seekamp was also the chairman of the Allison House management committee and the Allison House Association and was a progressive grazier.
"He worked tirelessly for Allison House, the bush children's hostel, being its current chairman at the time of his passing," Mr Andrews said.
"It was a passion for him to assist in educating the children of the Western Division that never had daily access to school.
"He was a wonderful man who had the Western Division at heart and worked tirelessly for all that lived in it.
"He wasn't afraid to tackle new ventures with his grazing enterprise. He saw merit in moving into dorper sheep production and was very successful. He also appreciated the value of harvesting the local goats.
"Fellow graziers have been telephoning me for updates on the search and rescue.
"They had been hoping for good news and staying positive and we were eventually devastated at the loss."
NSW Police divers are expected to arrive at the scene today to assist in the salvage and recovery operation, police said.
Four investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will also arrive at the scene to try to determine to cause of the crash, police said.