Dad's tribute to son published

BOOK LAUNCH:  Editor Linda Shepherd, Les Comer and Adrian Clarke of Lasertype at the book launch at the Kumeu Library.
BOOK LAUNCH: Editor Linda Shepherd, Les Comer and Adrian Clarke of Lasertype at the book launch at the Kumeu Library.

My Mate Murray is more than just a book – it's a tribute from a father to a son.

Les Comer launched his new book at the Kumeu Library on February 3, 24 years to the day since his son Murray was tragically killed in a farming accident.

He says that was just a coincidence. The book evolved from diary notes and has taken this long to get to print.

He does note though, that the book launch was around the same time of day as the accident.

At the time of the accident, on February 3, 1988, the Comer family had about 200 hectares at South Head.

Murray, 15, was standing in the cab of a log skidder when the machine rolled and he hit his head. From experience, Mr Comer knew it was serious.

"My great little man lost to a very simple accident and gone forever," Mr Comer notes in the book.

"No more jobs to help mum and dad, no more mates, no more anything."

As in the book's title, Mr Comer often refers to his late son as his "mate" or "right hand man". He says he was "a pretty special kid" and a natural working with machinery.

He would have undoubtedly been an integral part of the successful family business, Comer Firewood, which moved to Kumeu two years after the accident and has flourished.

Mr Comer started writing the book in the early morning when he would wake and think of his son.

"This is my personal tribute to him. It's just the story of his life.

"This is a story about the best mate a man could ever wish for," he says.

`He was a son, a working partner and he carried our hopes for a great future."

It is a personal tale but the Comers are prepared to help others who have had to go through anything similar.

They mentor other couples who have lost a loved one. The Comers have had more than their fair share of tragedy.

Murray was named after his uncle, Les' brother, who was also killed in an accident in Australia when he was 21.

Mr Comer's mother-in-law Colleen Sheffield, author of Men Came Voyaging – a history of Helensville celebrating its centennial year, was killed in the Brynderwyn bus crash in February 1963, when his wife Nora was just 15.

Mr Comer himself was named after his uncle, who died at 17 from meningitis.

But editor Linda Shepherd says although My Mate Murray is a deeply moving tribute from a father to a son, it deals with "hard times and good times, the laughs and the tears".

It costs $30 and is available through the Kumeu Library or by contacting Linda at

Rodney Times