Kangaroo Island legendary shearer, horseman Rodger Borgmeyer OAM farewelled

Real life Kangaroo Island legend Rodger Borgmeyer OAM was farewelled on Friday in what locals are describing as one of the biggest funerals the Island has seen.

Several hundred people packed into the big shed at the Kangaroo Island racecourse to farewell the shearer, the horseman and the legend.

His coffin arrived via the main straight of the racecourse, escorted by three local horsewomen.

Family and friends spoke about the man's life and what an inspiration he had been to all. The funeral was all the more poignant given the bushfire disaster that has ravaged Rodger's beloved Island.

Mercifully, some said, he passed away on December 29, the same day as his dad, and only days before the Ravine firestorm ripped through his beloved settlement of Karatta.

Among those speaking at his funeral was shearer Chris Rumble, who described Rodger as a mentor and inspiration.

Also speaking was SA Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman, whose father Ted Chapman employed Rodger as a shearer.

Kangaroo Island Shearing Hall of Fame founder Sean Gaskin also spoke and pledged to keep fighting to have Rodger included in the national Shearing Hall of Fame.

Family and friends after the service headed out to his property "Attarak" - Karatta spelled backwards - where he was laid to rest near the family memorial he recently built.

Many then headed to the Queenscliffe Hotel in Kingscote, the same pub he once rode his horse into.

Rodger Borgmeyer OAM - Shearer, horseman, Kangaroo Island legend.

Rodger Borgmeyer OAM - Shearer, horseman, Kangaroo Island legend.

Here is Eulogy has provided by the family:

Rodger Gilbert Borgmeyer OAM

03.10.1940 - 29.12.2019

Rodger Gilbert Borgmeyer OAM was born on October 3, 1940 at the Minlaton Hospital. Rodger is the third child of Bill and Beatrice and a brother to Les, Eileen, Dorothy and John.

Beat travelled alone to the hospital by horse and cart to give birth to Rodger and returned home a few days later to tell of how he spent his first night asleep under the cart in a banana box.

Rodger attended school in Corny Point until he was 14. An excerpt from Bills diary published in Three Corner Jack reads "Up at 3 am. Woke Rodger to feed and harness horses. Rodger was 12.

At fourteen, he is proud to report that he stripped a crop on his own, walking behind four horses pulling a Ridley Stripper. It was nothing out of the ordinary for Rodger to spend whole days walking behind the same four horses on rough, ploughed earth as he prepared the land for seeding".

The Borgmeyer family then moved to Kangaroo Island on April 5th, 1955 spending their first night on KI in the Queenscliffe Hotel. The next day Rodger walked the family's cattle from Vigars' farm to their property at Karatta, over 20 miles away, starting at dawn and arriving at dusk.

The family moved into the Karatta district, to a Soldier Settlement farm which they decided to name "Attarak", which is Karatta spelt backwards.

Rodger attended the Karatta School, where he was taught by Mrs Dianne McWhinnie who owned the neighboring property with Husband Ken. The McWhinnie's and Borgmeyer's became lifelong friends for approximately 50 years.

Rodger married Ruth Ida Kluske in 1963 and moved to Parndana where they raised their three daughters, Debra, Rosemarie and Janice and Ruth's son Steven, who Rodger adopted.

Ruth raised their young family alone for months at a time while Rodger was away on his shearing run. They shared a love of dogs and horses with Ruth making Rodgers show ribbons into rugs for his horse Fury.

After sometime, Rodger and Ruth separated with Rodger later marrying Valerie Spencer. Rodger and Val moved to Attarak after his parents passed away and started a bed breakfast to supplement the farm income. Rodger and Val later separated with Rodger continuing to enjoy life on his soldier settler farm.

Rodger began his shearing career in 1957 aged 17, more often than not riding to work on horseback, shearing all day and then riding home again in the evening. Rodger was taught to shear on KI by Max Millar.

In Rodger's words, Max was a very thorough teacher and insisted on a clean job each time. His gear was to be sharpened properly, with Max sending him back to the grinder if it was not up to scratch. These were the lessons Rodger passed on to those he taught. Rodger went on to shear in every state of Australia.

His best tally was 268 with narrow gear, and he regularly shore 1,000 per week. He was a professional shearer for 36 years. Rodger shore in many sheds on KI with some of his more regular sheds including Mick Francis, 30 years, Jack and Brian Hilder, 29 years, Camelback and Waterloo, 20+ years, Pioneer Bend, Ted Fridd, Colin Bury and Don Clark, 15+ years.

Rodger also shore for KI Shearing Contractors, Ted Chapman, for 25 years. Rodger went from shed to shed with his faithful dog Polly always by his side.

Rodgers whole life revolved around horses, for both pleasure and work. He was member of the KI Pony Club, a Clerk of the Course at the KI Racing Club for more than 30 years and a long standing master, president and supporter of the KI Hunt Club.

Many people here today would remember Rodgers old green truck driving down the middle of the road - no lights, no windows and always grinding the gears.

Rodgers most loved horses were Fury, Timebomb, Arapaho and Red. His bond with his horses was unique and they would do anything for him, like the time he jumped Arapaho over a burning log stood upon four drums without fault.

Rodgers antics sometimes got him into trouble like the time he and Tom Bruce were fined for riding their horses into the front bar of the Queenie Hotel, demanding drinks all round.

Rodger bred many good hunting horses and it wasn't unusual to have several related horses in the same hunting field. Rodgers display cabinet is full of trophies from horse events.

Rodger is a Life Member of the Hunt Club, State Hunt Association, Racing Club, Parndana Show Society and the Inaugural Life Member of the KI Shearing Hall of Fame, of which he is also an inductee. He was also part of 2 major films - The Light Horseman and The Dreaming.

Rodger was a paid shearing trainer for the AWC and when the funding ran out, Rodger continued to do this off hisown back for any years. So much was his passion for helping learner shearers; he attended the 2019 shearing school.

Rodger's most prestigious judging was at the Diamond Shears, the Royal Adelaide Show, and the Euroa Show where he judged the Victorian Open with Ted Speed.

He also judged at the Balaklava Show, Burra, Melrose and the Parndana Show, and was the most senior judge in South Australia. Last year Rodger was the oldest participant at the Blades of Glencoe Shearathon, which he was very proud of.

One of Rodgers greatest achievements was being awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2006, for services to the Kangaroo Island Community and shearing. He is one of only four people to receive an OAM for shearing.

Nothing had changed with Rodger - still salt of the earth, call it as you see it, industrious and full on. Even towards the end of his life, Rodgers character and personality never altered.

His determination continued to show with Rodger passing away on the 29th of December, the same day as his father.

His legacy will be carried on through his family - Debra and Shaun - Rose, Isobel, Stella, Bridget and Robert-Rodger - Janice, Tianee, Josh and Zander.

He will be one bloke his mates will never forget and his body will have a long earned spell in the country he grew up in. He deserves it.

Rodger Borgmeyer was a KI Legend.

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