Tribute to face of Dowerin

Rebecca TurnerThe West Australian

The passing of Lionel John Metcalf earlier this year has touched many in the WA farming community.

Known as LJ, John or John Sr, Mr Metcalf was well known for his longstanding involvement with the Dowerin machinery field days.

President of the Dowerin machinery field days for 14 years, Mr Metcalf was integral in developing the event, which is now one of Australia's leading field days.

As late as last year Mr Metcalf could be seen riding around the field days in his gopher, professing to be the "safety marshal".

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Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days chairman Ashley Jones said Mr Metcalf would be sadly missed at this year's Dowerin field days.

"He was an outstanding Dowerin citizen, a real innovator on the farm and in the community," he said.

"His involvement is probably one of the main reasons the Dowerin field days have become as big and as successful as they are today."

"He really was an icon of the Dowerin field days, our first life member and one of the main instigators of the event."

Mr Jones said Mr Metcalf had put a considerable amount of time and effort into the Dowerin field days, always being keen to lend a hand, right from the first event up until last year.

Mr Metcalf's passion for being involved with his community didn't stop with the Dowerin field days. His family recall him attending meetings of all descriptions, including the Dowerin Masonic Lodge, RSL, the WA National Party and WA Farmers Federation.

Mr Metcalf was incredibly proud of his distinguished service medal from the National Party and his life memberships to the WA Farmers Federation and the Dowerin machinery field days.

A member of the Royal Agricultural Society for more than 60 years, Mr Metcalf also thoroughly enjoyed attending the Perth Royal Show and showing each Metcalf generation the joys of the show, including the full range of exhibits and side show alley. During these visits his family could see the great pride he had for the agricultural industry and the friendships he had built up over the years.

Over his lifetime Mr Metcalf saw many changes in agriculture, from seeding with horse-drawn ploughs through to 500HP tractors towing 60-foot-wide air seeders; from horse-drawn harvesters harvesting 4ha a day to headers ripping off up to 160ha a day, all run by computers with auto steer. An innovator in the agricultural industry, his son John Metcalf Jr said he had great vision and was forward-thinking, always seeing the potential in various bits of machinery and adapting them for farm use.

In the mid 60s, Mr Metcalf tested a Conner-Shea Harvester which he decided wasn't any good, so he told the dealership to take it back and instead he would buy a brand-new header.

The header was made in Victoria and had a tractor inserted into it from the rear, becoming a self-propelled header with the main tractor wheels removed and sprockets fitted to drive the header by chains. The tractor was removed after harvest ready for seeding.

Another of his innovations was the tandem tractor he built as a result of seeing tandems in Koorda.

Mr Metcalf was also known for his love of technology, he learned to use a computer at age 70, connected to the internet at 75, set up an email account at 80 and started on Facebook at 85.

Car racing was another of Mr Metcalf's passions.

He raced cars at Mooliabeenee and Caversham and took part in organised street racing in various towns known as the "Round the Houses".

At age 70, Mr Metcalf took part in the Australian Leyland P76 Car Gymkhana, winning his favourite section.

LJ Metcalf will be remembered as a busy, busy man, a great innovator with vision and a strong passion for his community, always with a project on the go.

He was a fixer, renovator and domestic nightmare for his late wife Mavis, much-loved father to Carol, John and Dianne, grandfather to nine and great grandfather to 16.

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