He was 'King Billy', 'Captain Bill' and 'Captain Combustion.'
Bill Lambert was affectionately known by all of them to his many customers with whom he loved a chat and a joke.
As son, Adam, explained, Bill had the ability to light up a room with a sense of humour that was "off the charts."
"If everyone has a super power, his was to communicate with everyone. It was one of his superior traits," he said.
The Goulburn businessman of 40 years passed away at his home on Thursday, surrounded by family. He was seventy-six.
He had battled prostate cancer for 20 years but rarely let it show. Its recent spread into his bones spurred a rapid deterioration, Adam said.
Hundreds of phone calls and messages have poured in for the man best remembered for his Goulburn Barbecues Galore franchise, gun and outdoor stores. Through it all, his wife Margaret was by his side.
"The reach of his impact is hard to fathom," Adam said.
"I've been reading messages for two days flat and his and Mum's reach far exceeded the state and country."
William Patrick Lambert's long business association wasn't pre-ordained.
Born in Goulburn in 1945 to Les, a builder, and Edith Lambert, he was one of two sons. Older brother, Ronnie, died when Bill was eighteen.
Bill was proud of growing up at 39 Cowper Street where his great-grandmother, Ellen Dawson, popularly known as 'The Queen of the South,' used to hold court to travellers on the then Yass Road.
The house was known as 'The Palace.' Her husband, Thomas, was the 'king' and their son, William, the 'duke', who was sometimes seen flourishing a sword. The family is part of Goulburn's folklore, though the home is demolished.
Following his education in Goulburn, the young Bill became a mechanic, "cutting his teeth" at Turners. He worked at the Marulan Checking Station before channelling his love of the outdoors and recreational shooting into his first business.
He and Margaret (nee Scahill), whom he married in 1969, opened Goulburn Gun Shop in Auburn Street, opposite Goulburn South School, in 1971. Both were working other jobs at the same time.
"They were burning the candle at both ends, no doubt," Adam said.
It shifted to two more central Auburn Street locations over the next six years, added camping and outdoor equipment. The business became Lamberts Outdoor Centre and then Barbecues Galore when an opportunity arose in the early 1980s to buy into the franchise.
The couple added a firearms section and then, more than 20 years ago, expanded into a larger premises at 388 Auburn Street.
Their accountant advised them they'd go broke if they bought the building. The banks wouldn't loan money but such was the Lamberts' self belief, they raised the money regardless.
Customers were always "number one."
"Mum and Dad could serve six people at once and all felt like they were being attended to," Adam said.
"They knew customers could make or break a business and they applied good old-fashioned service and values...They were unbelievably hard workers."
He also gave time to the community, joining Goulburn Mulwaree Rotary and serving as president at one stage.
There was little time for holidays but their sons' Adam and Josh's entry into the business later allowed some welcome travel.
By 1978 the couple had three children, including the youngest, Jodie.
They paved the way for them. When the firearms section split off some years later, Josh ran 'Fish 'n Shoot' in Auburn Street. Adam worked at Barbecues Galore until 2020 when he opened 'House of Smoke and Fire' in Clinton Street.
Family values were important and some of Bill's happiest moments were sitting around a campfire yarning with Margaret, the children and friends.
"We couldn't have asked for a better father," Adam said.
"He loved us equally and passionately and had so much belief in our abilities. He was always someone we could turn to for advice and wisdom."
When diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 50s, Mr Lambert refused to let it rule his life. That was giving it "too much power" and he was more often seen with a smile on his face. He worked for 15 years with the disease, up until his retirement some six years ago.
Yet Mr Lambert remained interested in the business, while continuing to pursue his love of clay-target and recreational shooting, fishing and golf.
When the cancer metastasized, Adam said his father never complained or spoke about his mortality.
Even in his last months, he laughed more than he cried and thought of others' feelings. He did not want to die in hospital and have his family subjected to COVID visiting restrictions.
They were close by when he finally passed.
"We were all able to spend time with him, express what we felt about him and thank him," Adam said.
"...We are doing our best to continue the incredible legacy he created."
Mr Lambert is survived by Margaret, son Josh and wife, Christine, Adam and wife, Kelly, Jodie and partner Jamey, and grandchildren Jay and Tia.
Mr Lambert's funeral service will be held at Sts Peter and Paul's Cathedral at 11am Wednesday, September 1. Due to COVID restrictions, only 10 family members can attend.
The family will later share an online link to the service with family and friends.
Interment will take place at Saint Patrick's Catholic Cemetery, Middle Arm Road, Goulburn.
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