VICTOR HARBOR – When I tried to get hold of Kevin Rucioch to do a story about his Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), I was in luck.
Kevin had a few minutes to spare in his busy schedule of community-based roles to have a chat about his OAM, which he was awarded on the Queen’s Birthday public holiday.
“Normally I’m very busy,” Kevin said.
He's not sure who nominated him for the OAM, but it is not surprising given the amount of time he has devoted to his community throughout his life.
I've always wanted to be involved in the community, I think that is because of my upbringing.
Kevin, 75, has an impressive CV of community-based roles. He moved from Alice Springs to Victor Harbor with his wife Sue in 2007, when he instantly signed up as a volunteer.
He volunteers with the information centre, a Heart Foundation walking group, is parish manager at Victor Harbor/Goolwa Catholic Church, and president of the local conference of the St Vincent De Paul Society.
“My wife’s told me I’ve got to start saying no,” Kevin said. “I’ve had a busy life, but I've always wanted to be involved in the community, I think that is because of my upbringing.”
He grew up in the mid-north town of Peterborough, where he worked at his dad’s country store.
With a strong sense of community service, Kevin was voted onto the Peterborough council as a young councillor. He was appointed to mayor at the age of 32 in 1979, and kept the top job until 1991.
In his time as mayor he secured a community bus for the town and struck a deal with the gas supply network.
He moved to Alice Springs in 1991, where he worked at a country store which serviced the remote Aboriginal community of Utopia.
For five years Kevin was the delivery driver, making 1000km trips into the desert with supplies for Aboriginal community.
“What amazed me was that those people in the bush were beautiful. It was a great learning curve because all I had heard about Aboriginals was negative. It opened up another perception about life in the bush. That really impressed me.
“I absolutely loved it, it was so invigorating so see how they lived in those communities.”
Kevin does find time for lawn bowls, but is reluctant to take up a volunteer role. “I just like to enjoy it.”