South West Rocks resident Aubrey Rudder is preparing to celebrate his 90th birthday this Thursday, June 22.
What makes it such a remarkable achievement is the fact Aub, as he is affectionately known, has been battling Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia for the past 15 years.
Aub is also the proud descendant of Kempsey’s founder Enoch William Rudder.
Enoch named Kempsey in 1836 after a village in Worcestshire, England.
Rudder St and Rudder Park are of course named in his honour.
Aub himself contributed significantly to the development of the Macleay Valley during his many years operating local construction company Gill Bros. Pty. Ltd.
Aub was originally an employee of the firm.
Later, he would buy Howard and Cliff Gill’s shares in the business to become its sole owner.
The firm constructed or restored many prominent local landmarks, including the Kempsey Golf Club, Kempsey Bowling Club, Uniting Church Hall, and Trial Bay Gaol.
It was also responsible for a number of large unit blocks and homes throughout the Macleay.
Aub no longer dons the tool belt, but he still goes to work each day doing the banking for the Op Shop in South West Rocks.
He also produces a weekly news sheet and distributes it locally.
Aub credits his longevity to staying active, eating a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables, the care of the love of his life Betty and having an enriching family life including four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“It gives me something to do, I come in contact with lovely people and when I go down to the bank, I get a warm welcome and that’s why I’m still alive – great company and happy faces,” Mr Rudder said.
“Betty looks after me very well.
“We’ve had a lovely family life.
“It’s always been loving and caring.
“I’ve been proud of them all my life, it’s been a real family thing our whole lives.”
Aub says if he had his life to live over, the only thing he would change is the passing of his daughter Robyn, seven years ago at the age of 57.
“I’d just do the same things over again,” he said.
“Life’s been very good to us.
“I love the Macleay.
“In all our travelling, we came across lovely places but you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“South West Rocks is still the top of the tree.”
Mr Rudder’s loving wife of sixty-five years, Betty Rudder, said she had picked the right man all those years ago.
“He’s very strong,” Mrs Rudder said.
“Aub is a real gentleman.
“Old Enoch would be proud.”