Forever a Bundy boy... paying tribute to Ken
KEN Vandenberg made friends everywhere he went.
It was his friendly attitude that caused him to inspire everyone he met, according to long-time friend and fellow Bundy boy Ross Eastgate.
Mr Vandenberg passed away on the morning of Wednesday, April 18.
He had been on a group motorbike ride on Hill End Rd at Sallys Flat near Bathurst in New South Wales when he lost control about 11.25am and hit a tree.
The sad news came as a shock to those who knew Mr Vandenberg.
Mr Eastgate had been in the same class as Mr Vandenberg in 1967, and had kept in touch despite the fact they both eventually moved from Bundaberg to pursue careers in the army.
"You can take the boys out of Bundaberg but you can't take Bundaberg out of the boys," Mr Eastgate said.
"He was born here, he went to school here."
Mr Eastgate, who eventually went on to become a journalist, said Mr Vandenberg left Bundaberg to start a career in the navy and later, the air force.
"Like many of his generation he left Bundaberg for the opportunities that weren't there," he said.
"If you stayed in Bundaberg you went off to the sugar mills, that's what you did.
"And if you moved away you married and stayed away."
But it never stopped Mr Vandenberg from staying in "relentless" contact with people he held dear.
"No matter where he went he made friends," Mr Eastgate said.
"He was always an active participant in keeping in touch."
Mr Vandenberg attended Bundaberg South State School and Bundaberg State High School.
Mr Eastgate said his friend always loved Bundaberg and was proud to call himself a Bundy boy no matter where he travelled.
Some of those most saddened by his passing were the young women who knew him in school.
"The girls in the class are actually quite upset, whether they were sweethearts or not I don't know, but he inspired everyone he met," Mr Eastgate said.
One of his school friends has been organising a wake in Brisbane, so that the Queenslanders who knew Mr Vandenberg can say their farewells.
Mr Eastgate, now the president of the Surfers Paradise RSL, said he believed his much-loved friend passed away, without suffering, doing what he loved.
"He was on a weekly ride with a group of mates," he said.
"He was a big lump of a jovial sort of guy.
"Even though he spent his life away from Bundaberg, he maintained his contacts there."
His funeral is expected to be held in New South Wales next Thursday.