A BOY who started pumping petrol as a teenager grew into a man who climbed communication towers and won the hearts of those who got to know him.

Stewart Malcolm Nunn arrived on 24 September 1933, the seventh of 11 children born to George Alexander Nunn and Winifred Violet Cooper.

Most people called him Mal, some of us called him Uncle Mac and others of course knew him as Dad and Grandad.

My Uncle Mac always seemed full of the joy of life. He was fun to be around and, even when he was unwell in later years, his sweet spirit was not restrained. The above image of Mac shows him with his nephew Larry.

Family love

Malcolm Nunn in 1995

Malcolm Nunn in 1995.

Mal grew up in a family short on material things but abundant in love.

Mal and his 10 siblings attended Allenstown State School directly across the road from their tiny Margaret Street house in Rockhampton.

Rugby league, cricket and any ball sports were Mal’s pursuits as a youngster before golf became his passion in later years.

At 13, he began operating a fuel pump at a William Street garage and, for the next 52 years, he would work in a variety of part-time and full-time jobs.

He also pumped petrol at a shop in Gladstone Road before a five-year stint at Boldeman’s Soap Factory in Dawson Road where his tasks included cutting, rolling and wrapping the soaps. He did not take up an offer to become an apprentice soap maker.

He instead decided to follow his father into Queensland Railways but after 12 months as a fettler in Longreach, he moved on to a labouring role at Mt Morgan mine where he was in the road gang and also worked on the gardens.

Electricity board

Thereafter, he started with the Capricornia Electricity Board as a linesman’s assistant before in 1954 he joined the Post Master General’s Department (now Telstra) as a linesman.

In 1964, Mal met a young widow, Alice Vallance, whom he married the following year. Alice brought her four children in to the marriage and there was addition in 1967 when daughter Michele was born.

Soon after they were married, Mal, Alice and the kids visited his brother Trevor in Gladstone. Trevor’s daughter Jacqui innocently asked, “Where’s the baby?”.

Mal later mused, “That bloody Trevor probably told his kids I got Alice pregnant and had to marry her!”

Indonesia high

Malcolm Nunn

Malcolm Nunn: about 2009.

Mal’s 22-year stay with the PMG included an 18-month stint in Indonesia because it brought a significant financial reward for the new, melded family.

The major project in Java and Sumatra was financed by the World Bank and was contracted to a Japanese company but under the special agreement, Australia’s PMG oversaw the work.

While the Indonesians built the towers, Mal’s tasks included making sure the foundations were safe and the bolts secured. This meant he had to climb each of the monster towers which ranged from 50m to 250m high.

In 1976, Mal left the PMG and took on a role as bar manager at the Pine Rivers Golf Club not far from where he and Alice had settled at Spitfire Avenue, Lawnton.

Poor health

Within days of retiring in 1998, Mal had a severe stroke that left him permanently disabled and after Alice died in 2002, he moved to a nursing home on the Sunshine Coast.

Mal passed away in his sleep on Monday, 21 February, 2011, aged 77.