Williams family ready to celebrate birthday milestone

FAMILY: Brothers Barry, Bronte and Les Williams together. The Williams family will be celebrating Barry's 80th birthday at Streaky Bay this weekend. Picture: Supplied

FAMILY: Brothers Barry, Bronte and Les Williams together. The Williams family will be celebrating Barry's 80th birthday at Streaky Bay this weekend. Picture: Supplied

Streaky Bay's Barry Williams is preparing to celebrate his 80th birthday together with family and friends this weekend.

The Williams family is excited about the milestone event for a colourful and well-known character in the community.

Mr Williams was born at Streaky Bay Hospital on October 21, 1939 to Miller and Ruth Williams who were living at Wallgrove on Gibson's Peninsula.

Having cerebal palsy, Mr Williams attended Somerton Crippled Children's Home at a young age where he had extensive massage therapy, enduring many hours in leg irons and sleeping in plaster casts for months.

He returned home and began schooling at Streaky Bay at age seven after the family moved into town and his dad made a very basic steel frame so Mr Williams could wheel his way the close distance to the school.

After several years he had a stint at Ashford Hospital where doctors could get him to walk unaided, before Mr Williams finishing school at year 7 - his teachers agreed it was time for him to leave as his unruly behaviour was disrupting the class.

At 15 he was accepted to the Woodville Spastic Centre, where he stayed for a few years, before heading to the Victor Harbor Rehabilitation Centre which he enjoyed immensely.

Mr Williams returned home for his 21st birthday, a large affair at the Streaky Bay Institute.

For many years he was a gatekeeper at the local football and Streaky Bay races, often with Fred Mundy, and was a regular movie-goer at the Institute.

He was a common sight around the streets for many years, often exclaiming 'golly gosh' and 'gee whiz' - which can still be heard to this day.

His dad had suggested he might like to move to Adelaide to work at Bedford Industries, but it was not until years later when Miller passed away and Ruth was ready to move into Elmhaven that Mr Williams told her he would like to make the move to Adelaide.

After living in shared independent living, he moved into his own unit and cared for himself for many years - walking to local facilities such as shops and the bank.

Mr Williams has always been fond of having a beer and when he first moved to Plympton the police would sometimes stop him and suggest to may have had a few too many drinks, to which he responded, "Don't worry, I always walk like this!"

A large part of his life has been at the Buffalo Lodge in which has has held almost every position, beginning in Streaky Bay when he was 28.

Mr Williams has been a loyal member, attending meetings in Streaky and at different lodges in Adelaide.

He always used to come home to Streaky Bay for Christmas until a few years after Ruth passed away in 1985, and instead his annual visit became the weekend of the Streaky Bay races.

Mr Williams' goal had been to continue working at Bedford to make the 40 years of service honour board, but because of circumstances beyond his control he is retiring after his 80th birthday.

He has had some recent health issues and has decided to move back to Streaky Bay after 39 years with Bedford, and will be recognised for his contributions later in the year.

Mr Williams has been able to live independently for years and will continue to do so back at home.

His brother Bronte Williams said their parents would be amazed and proud of his many achievements, and the way he has overcome challenges in life.

"He has been a role model for all of us to appreciate and respect in the way he has conducted and fulfilled his life, no matter what the circumstances have been without complaint or regrets," he said.

"We all love you Barry and wish you many more happy and healthy years in Streaky Bay."