The following obituary was written by Lindon Keft.
Les Keft was born in Nowra nearly 100 years ago (in 1920), into a local family of twelve. He lived through some of the toughest moments in Australian history, served his country in the Second World War.
Les passed away peacefully in his sleep recently. Being the final sibling remaining, his death marks the end of era, not only for the Keft clan, but also for the memory of a past generation. With him, we lay to rest his old-time anecdotes, and his unparalleled wisdom.
Les is survived by his troop of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - not to mention the nieces and nephews, cousins and second cousins.
As a young lad growing up in scarce times, with a very large family, Les would do his part to help put food on the table for his mother.
Before and after schooI, every week day, he'd do the miIk and bread runs from door to door.
One old lady had told his mum how impressed she was at her hard-working twins - little did she know they were the same delivery boy at both ends of the day.
In the mid-thirties, just as The Great Depression began to bite, Les began an apprenticeship with a local baker and pastry cook in Nowra.
Back in those days, all the dough had to be laboriously mixed by hand in long, wooden troughs. It was backbreaking work, and Les would jokingly complain to the day he died about his overworked shoulder.
A couple of years later, Les met the love of his life, Win Boxsell.
As teenage sweethearts, they would wander the banks of the Shoalhaven River, or double on a bicycle for the longer trips. They were absolutely smitten with each other. He'd say 'Win, you're the prettiest girl in town by far' and she'd just smile and act embarrassed.
Marrying in 1942 in Nowra, it was a simple, no-frills wedding, and they permitted themselves a one day honeymoon at Luna Park, before it was back on the train back to Nowra to get back to work.
With The Great Depression squeezing the global economy dry, there was no time to rest in those days.
Win and Les were together until the day Win passed away; 71 years marriage in total.
The following year after they married, their first son Rodney was born. But the shadow of a World War was looming, and Les couldn't stay to watch his baby son's 'firsts'.
When World War Two hit, Les, along with four of his brothers felt that it was their duty to help defend their threatened country. So they packed their bags and headed overseas.
Les served in the New Guinea campaign, on the Kokoda Track, fighting in the Highlands, then later was involved in the dangerous and controversial 'mopping up' operations on lower parts of the track.
It was here that his brother Wally was killed whilst leading a contingent to retrieve fallen comrades.
For a time, Les was recalled home to recover from the tropical diseases. But before long he was sent over again to fight in the Borneo campaign.
After the war had passed, Les and Win decided to move out west, to Bathurst. First, in PerthviIle, where Les was able to put his craft to good use as the local baker.
After some time baking, they decided on a career change.
Taking on the local fish 'n' chips shop in town was a savvy business decision. In those days, fish 'n' chips was the main takeaway in town.
They owned and ran the Carillon Fish Shop on George Street for many years, soon becoming household names in town.
In business, the Kefts were known as extremely hard workers - up before sunrise and home after sundown, every single day. But above all, they were known for their honesty and integrity.
They never missed an opportunity to show a struggling family kindness and generosity. On the other hand, Les wouldn't tolerate unruly behaviour in his shop, and would hop over the counter 'quick smart' to show unreasonable customers the street.
Les and Win went on to have another son while in Bathurst, Lindon.
While Rodney had been a loud and jovial child (who went on to become the comedian Rodney Rude), Lindon was the more studious of the two, working as a high school teacher for several years.
In later years, Les forged a new career, selling life insurance throughout the district for the AMP Society. With the gift of the gab, Les was a natural at this. No matter where he went - selling insurance or not - Les loved a chat. Excursions downtown with Les Keft could take a very long time.
In retirement, Les and Win settled into Nowra again, where they had time to hone their gardening prowess, developing prizewinning gardens that was the envy of the neighbourhood. Almost right up until the end, Les kept a colour-drenched, immaculate garden.
While the family mourns the death of a dad, grandad, great grandad, uncle and friend, we also mourn the nearly 100 years of memories and experiences that he's taken with him to the grave.
It's because of old diggers like Les that our country is the way it is today and for that we're thankful.
At least now we know that he's just where he wanted to be - beside his sweetheart - 'the prettiest girl in town'.