Karratha has said goodbye to one of the great characters of the Pilbara with the death of local legend and US military veteran Jack Renault.
Mr Renault, who turned 105 on January 16, died peacefully surrounded by friends in Busselton on Sunday night.
Originally hailing from upstate New York, Mr Renault came to Dampier in 1968 when he was contracted as a painter by Hamersley Iron.
He spent years with the company before taking over a friend’s auto parts store, A1 Autos, as a chance to work more independently.
In 2017 he spoke to Pilbara News about his decision to stay in the Pilbara town.
“I sat down and I thought, this would be a very nice place to do what you’d like to do,” he said.
“I was an avid diver. . . I loved fishing, I loved the bush, I love my independence, I don’t want people telling me to do anything, and so here I am, 40-odd years later.
Mr Renault also had a wide friendship circle, many he met as customers at A1 Autos, who visited him often.
The local personality was loved around town with people coming into the shop with coffee, tea, soup and other goodies.
He celebrated his centenary in 2017 with a birthday party at the Karratha RSL attended by at least 80 people, including some who travelled from New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
His letter from the Queen was displayed on the desk of A1 Autos in the Karratha LIA.
On his 103rd birthday Mr Renault said a perk of living a long life was the friends you make.
“You get yourself a lot of friends,” he said.
“Friends are very, very important.”
Aside from being a well-known personality in town, Mr Renault was a US army veteran who served on Japan’s Okinawa island and helped build Exmouth’s Tower Zero, the tallest structure in Australia.
He was also passionate advocate for ratepayers who kept extensive records on a wide range of council, political and historical documents in his store.
Karratha and Districts RSL was among those to take to social media on Monday morning to pay tribute to Mr Renault.
“In our hearts and minds he will be ageless,” the said.
“He was a great supporter of local and national issues and kept the council on their toes on many occasions.
“Jack as a fellow serviceman, thank you for your service to your country and to ours.
“Stand down, your tour is done. RIP and lest we forget.”
Mr Renault was always measured about his age — he described his 100th birthday as “just a chronological event” and revealed a Japanese fortune teller had told him he wold live to 111.
He is survived by his daughter in the USA.