FAMILY HISTORY: Ken Smith outside the house he was born in nearly 90 years ago. Ken still lives in the same One Mile home.
FAMILY HISTORY: Ken Smith outside the house he was born in nearly 90 years ago. Ken still lives in the same One Mile home. Rob Williams

Digger still lives in the house he was born in 90 years ago

ONE very important part of Ken Smith's life has remained constant through decades of hard work, war and raising a family.

The man dubbed by Cr Charlie Pisasale as the "Mayor of One Mile", who will celebrate his birthday tomorrow, still lives in the same Siemons St house in which he was born 90 years ago.

The youngest of nine children, Mr Smith was born in the front bedroom of the house.

"My parents built this house about 108 years ago," Mr Smith said.

"They came over from England, they had nine children but one of my sisters, Allison, died very young."

Mr Smith himself was only barely an adult when he was sent off to serve his country in the Second World War.

Still somewhat naive and keen for adventure, he signed up at the local drill hall and served as a stretcher bearer for 16 months in New Guinea and 10 months in Bougainville. It was a period of just over two years that the veteran still prefers not to talk about in too much detail.

"I thought it was going to be an adventure and I soon realised it was nothing like that," he said.

After returning to Australia, he married his wife "Nellie", who died 10 years ago, and took up an apprenticeship as a carriage builder at the Ipswich railway workshops.

Mr Smith in his service uniform.
Mr Smith in his service uniform.

Daughter Robyn le Bherz said her main memories of childhood were of seeing her dad off to work in the morning, as well as his love of duck and rabbit shooting.

"He was a great dad - a good provider for us," she said.

"He was strict but we could always talk to him about things."

Mr Smith's love of duck shooting tied in with one of his other passions - training his beloved labrador retrievers.

During the 1970s he won several consecutive Royal Brisbane Show titles for champion obedience dog with his black labrador Earlwick Black Bess.

Mr Smith was also a keen sportsman - coaching a premiership-winning West End second grade side in the late 1940s, and starting the Ipswich Gun Club in 1960.

He keeps active these days by going to the gym with fellow WWII digger Doug Simonds once a week.

Cr Pisasale said Mr Smith was a well-loved character of Ipswich and a regular visitor to his Leichhardt office.

"He has a good sense of humour and is a very positive, happy chappy," Cr Pisasale said.

Like the timber house that he still calls home after all these years, Mr Smith is still standing strong and looks like he will be for some time to come.

These days he also has nine grand-children and 14 great-grandchildren to keep him on his toes.

"I've had a pretty full life - I have been lucky," he said.

Mr Smith in the room he was born in.
Mr Smith in the room he was born in.

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