A FORMER record-setting Attunga cattle grazier and WWII veteran who has been described as a man "dedicated to community service" has died aged 99.
Long-time local Vic McKnight passed away peacefully on June 27 and is being remembered as a prominent member of the rural community.
Mr McKnight grew up on his father's cattle and cropping farm at "Balmoral" Attunga, and at 12 years old began a lifelong partnership with his brother, Ray.
The pair started their own fat cattle trading business, purchasing 12 cattle from "Possum" Wiseman, near Attunga.
Mr McKnight's son Roger said his father was always a pioneer who looked to do things his own way, even learning to drive when he was still too short to reach the pedals.
"He would steer while younger brother Ray pressed the pedals," he said.
"He and Ray in their early teens even drove a new Willys Knight car from Sydney to Tamworth unlicensed, their father, WG having sent them to Sydney on a train to drive it back to Tamworth."
Conscripted into the AIF in WWll, Mr McKnight served on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea, and his driving skills at such a young age made him very valuable.
He would transport at night, "with no lights, bombs, ammunition, and officers under fire to the mountain front lines, then bringing wounded back down the treacherous jungle track".
He married his teenage sweetheart, Pauline, in Brisbane in 1944 while on leave, returning home on Christmas day, 1945, to their six-month-old son Ian.
Passionate about environmental concerns and the latest farming developments, he would regularly adopt improvements to his farming methods such as adding extra nitrogen-fixing bacteria to the combine seeder when planting lucerne.
"Vic was always reading up about the latest scientific advances in farming developed by CSIRO," his son Roger added.
"Following his son, Ian's lead, Vic and Ian began a program of planting eucalypts trees in the corners of many paddocks in the 1970s, attracting insect-eating birds and providing more shade for the cattle."
But, above all, fattening cattle was Mr McKnight's passion and he continued working at his cattle property "The Pines", Attunga into his 80s where he provided fat steers exclusively for Woolworths.
Mr McKnight and his brother Ray would often be featured in The Land for setting numerous fat cattle price records at both the Tamworth and Homebush Sydney markets.
At 84 years old, Vic and wife Pauline retired to a six acre property at Moore Creek. He leaves behind seven children, 21 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.