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A city grieves for two men taken too soon

February 5, 2022

At rest. Pallbearers carry Glenn Taylor's coffin. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes


Across the city of Orange, surrounding cities, towns and villages and beyond, many, many hearts are aching right now.


Last weekend two of Orange's own were taken far too soon: Glenn Taylor and Caleb Hannus.


Taylor was 60 years old when he died at home, just months after he started to feel unwell.

His final weeks had been spent surrounded by family and friends, there to talk, comfort, love, shoot the breeze, reminisce and attend to his needs.


At his funeral on Friday morning in the Orange Botanic Gardens, the sun shone brightly as more than 150 people gathered to pay their final respects to our former deputy mayor. There were babies, toddlers, teens, young men and women, the middle-aged and the elderly.


Mourners at Glenn Taylor's funeral on Friday, February 4, 2022, Orange Botanic Gardens. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Tears flowed, backs were gently rubbed and family and close friends embraced.


The speakers - Chris O'Brien, Michael Madden, Caitlin and Annie Taylor, Brock Taylor, Peter Thompson and Jeff Whitton - painted a rich three-dimensional image of a knockabout bloke who loved and adored his daughters, his step kids, his petrol head nephew Brock, his grandkids, his mates and many others.


A man who loved just hanging out at the park with his children, throwing and kicking balls of varying sizes; or having a feed at the Hog's Breath; or sinking a few coldies at the Vic or the old Kelly's; or traipsing year-in, year-out to Bathurst for the race; or avoiding man hugs, but wishing he was Freddie Mercury.

A man who loved cracking wise with lines from classic British comedies from another time such as The Two Ronnies, Monty Python, The Young Ones and Blackadder, and who took a financial hit by too often doing gardening jobs at mate's rates.


And one who became a canny political operator in Labor circles, ensuring he had access to the right ears when things needed to be done for Orange.


At 60, Glenn Taylor had more years of public service ahead of him. And a retirement down the track, perhaps one that involved kicking back after 50 years of work, hanging out with his girls as they made their way in the world, watching his beloved Rabbitohs and the races, and spinning what his friend since kindergarten Michael Madden might have referred to as "bullshit" with his mates over a few bevvies.


The music appeared to have been carefully chosen. As guests arrived the Vitamin String Quartet's versions of Interpol's Slow Hands, Green Day's Give Me Novocaine and The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army played through the public address.


The service began with The Hollies' 1969 masterpiece He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, the sublime multi-tracked harmonies soaring to the sky.

Johnny Mathis' version of Peter Allen and Dean Pitchford's 1983 song Once Before I Go ("Once before I go, I want you to know that I would do it all again / I'm sure I'd make the same mistakes") was played midway through the service, and then the service concluded with Queen's We Are The Champions.

A private service followed and family and friends were invited to share memories over refreshments at Orange City Bowling Club.


...


A day after Glenn Taylor died at home last Saturday, 18-year-old Caleb Hannus went to Junction Reefs Reserve near Mandurama with some mates to go for a swim.


He never came home.


For four days Caleb's family had to exist in limbo as police and SES searched the area and waited for conditions safe enough to enter the water.


Police announced on Thursday night they had retrieved the body of a young man from the water.


On the surface it appears as if Caleb just made a poor decision, like teenagers the world over do every day, but paid a terrible, unfair price. A coronial inquest will aim to determine exactly what happened to Caleb on Sunday, and what changes might be implemented to limit the chance of such a tragedy happening again.


The torment endured by Caleb's family and friends as they waited for answers is unimaginable. The grief of a parent losing a young child way before their time is unknowable to all but those who have experienced it. As it is for siblings who have lost their brother.



Caleb Hannus (centre) with brothers Jake (left) and Tyson. Facebook.

Caleb played AFL for the Orange Tigers, and on Tuesday the Old Boys announced that he had been made Old Boy No. 140. He was warmly welcomed by members of the club.


A gofundme to help the family has been set up, and has already raised more than the initial target.


On social media those who knew Caleb have expressed their shock and grief over the loss of a young man described as sweet, gentle and full of life. "Your laugh and smile will never leave me," wrote one.

"I’d do anything to turn back time and be together as kids," wrote another, "I’d do anything to have spent more time together I love you so much."


An outpouring of love as bewildered people try to accept what has happened, to somehow try and make sense of it.


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