Trevor Kruger always said that when he died he wanted his ashes to be put through the firebox of a steam train while it was travelling through Garvoc, and on Saturday he got his wish.
His sister Jenny Doreian and sister-in-law Kath Kruger watched from the guard’s van of the R711 as the smoke went past.
“It was emotional. It’s a beautiful thing,” Mrs Doreian said.
“He wanted to be put into the firebox and chuffed out coming up the hill at Garvoc. This is what he’s always wanted to do.
“Trains were his life. He was train mad.”
In December 2016, Mr Kruger was in Albury to train a young train driver when, after having lunch with the station master, he had a heart attack and died in the car park of the shopping centre aged 63.
“The people of Albury were just absolutely wonderful how they came to his aid,” Mrs Doreian said.
She said one lady, who noticed her brother wasn’t well, helped him test his blood sugars after he told her he thought he might be having a diabetic episode.
“He just sort of faded away and some other people pulled him out of the car and called the ambos but there was nothing that could be done,” she said.
For almost 18 months Mrs Doreian has kept her brother’s ashes knowing his friends had promised to fulfill Trevor’s final wish.
“His mates knew all about it and said they’d make it happen and get the appropriate authority,” she said.
“True to their word they did that, and I think they’re all wonderful people.”
Mrs Doreian said her brother had always wanted to drive a train, right from when he was little and would run out on to the road to watch the steam train go past the end of the street in Dennington.
She said her parents made sure Trevor finished school and sat the bank exam just in case his didn’t like the railways.
But at 17 he joined the railways after “blowing away” the instructors with his knowledge of all things train-related.
“He was absolutely besotted with trains,” Mrs Doreian said.
“He told mum one day he was just so happy he’d be prepared to just wash the windows of the train.”
Mr Kruger, who worked for the railways for more than 45 years, ended up as one of V/Line’s top driver instructors, she said.
He would regularly drive trains to Warrnambool where he would visit his parents.
“They’d go down and see him off at the station and then they’d get in the car and go out and wave to him at the crossing at Allansford,” she said.
On trips to Albury he would slow the train down so it arrived at the station exactly on time.
“He was very dedicated to his job and we’re all very proud of him,” Mrs Doreian said.
“Trevor was well known up and down the lines – he had a great wit, very funny, a true gentleman.”