He was the familiar face who greeted you as you walked into the children's wonderland that was Elliott's Pet Shop.
There sitting at his usual spot at the counter was Tom Elliott - watchful, with a quiet sense of humour and ever ready for a yarn. Out back, wife, Anne, fed and watered the 'stock' and chatted to children and generations of locals who paid a visit.
The two were a team and somewhat iconic in Goulburn's business life for their longevity.
Mr Elliott died on January 28 in Canberra Hospital from a heart condition. He was eighty-four.
He had only retired five years ago, ending a 52-year long business involvement.
Born at Nyngan in 1935 to Arthur and Jean Elliott, his father died when he was about four years old. At age nine he went to board at Holy Cross school, Ryde, but transferred to Saint Patrick's Goulburn for the final two years of his education.
At that time, his mother had moved to Goulburn to be closer to her father, George Richards, who managed a property for the Fisher family at Currawang.
Jean, Tom and sister Nola lived in town but George would become something of a father figure to them. Later, the siblings were joined by sister, Rhonda, after June married Cyril Thorpe.
Mrs Elliott said Tom didn't particularly enjoy St Pat's and soon after leaving, took up a mechanics apprenticeship at Ayliffe's Garage. There he stayed 13 years. Towards the end of this time he met Anne Hool at a Towrang dance and following a courtship, they married in 1962.
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A year later, they decided to strike out in their own business, buying the Esso service station on the corner of Clinton and Cowper Streets, the current site of Southern Plumbing Plus.
"It was always his ambition to have his own business," Mrs Elliott said.
"Being a mechanic he knew what he was doing and he enjoyed meeting people; he was a very sociable person."
The business employed numerous people over the next 19 years but then the couple completely changed course. By this time, they'd had two children - Greg and Anthony.
The Elliotts bought Bill Lawless' pet shop in Auburn Street (opposite the current Target store) when it came up for sale. They embarked on a very different working life, selling everything from fish, mice, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and puppies. During drought, they sold baby goats and lambs for farmers who didn't want to kill them.
So what was the most unusual animal? That would be the camel, Mrs Elliott explained. When a man requested one, they simply sourced it from Rehwinkels at Queanbeyan and sold it out of the paddock.
Then there was the woman who stole a feral cat and put it down her jumper, only to swiftly remove it metres down the street when it started scratching.
"(But) we met a lot of nice people. They were all good experiences," Mrs Elliott said.
"...We enjoyed the people and the animals. We worked to 6pm seven days a week and although they were long hours, it was no different to the servo. We didn't have to worry about people not showing up to work or finding $30,000 a month to pay for petrol."
They ran the business for 32 years. In 2015, the couple opted for some "quiet time," sold the shop and retired. While Mr Elliott missed the customers, a steady stream of friends dropped in at their home.
Retirement gave Mr Elliott more space to enjoy his interests, including the odd punt over a weekly catch-up with friends, and following rugby league and cricket, which he played in his youth. Over many years, he owned harness horses, trained by three generations of the Day family. One of them, Gambling Greek, won Canberra Horse of the Year. Mr Elliott also had about seven greyhounds, which trainers raced.
There was also more time to spend with his six grandchildren.
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Anne said she would remember her husband as a friendly and sociable man who liked his routines.
"He never changed. What you saw was what you got," she said.
Mr Elliott is also survived by his children, Greg and Anthony, their partners and families, and his sisters Nola Gordon and Rhonda Thorpe.
A private cremation took place at Craig's Hill crematorium on Wednesday, February 5.
- With thanks to Anne Elliott and Penny Gordon for background information and photos.
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