TANUNDA’s Oscar Joppich has been awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for his volunteering efforts.
The 89-year-old’s achievements were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Monday.
Mr Joppich retired from his teaching career in the early 1990s but has never stopped giving back to those around him.
For more than 14 years and up until just recently, Mr Joppich was the friendly face behind the wheel of the Barossa Community Transport Service.
The role largely involved transporting people to and from medical appointments, helping to ease the financial burden and stress of having to drive long-distance.
“It wasn’t always older people, sometimes it was young people who didn’t have transport or didn’t feel comfortable driving in the city,” Mr Joppich told The Bunyip.
“Even though I was getting them to a destination, what I learnt from those people and who I met was just amazing.”
Once a month, he would also drive the shopping bus to Gawler via Williamstown, while over five years, he would also drive clients to and from Barossa Enterprises.
“Every Wednesday, I would drive the children to work and then bring them home again,” he said.
His volunteer service with the Lutheran Church involved a volunteer assignment helping to run guest houses in Papau New Guinea on two occasions in the 1990s.
He said he thoroughly enjoyed his time in PNG, also accompanied by wife Irene. “I met many people, and they came from all over the world,” he said.
“We had an average of 3000 bed days a year…I’d manage the finance, book people in, my wife occasionally cooked lunches. But we had two boys who cooked and a girl who did the laundry.”
Mr Joppich had previously spent time in New Guinea in the late 1950s, teaching students from outreach posts at a local mission school.
Meanwhile, his teaching career with the South Australian Education Department saw him teach at Meningie, Snowtown, Cummins, Swan Reach, Leigh Creek, Orroroo, Mannum, and two schools at Mount Gambier.
Closer to home, Mr Joppich was chair of the Tanunda Lutheran Home Resident Committee in 2005 to 2014, and then assistant chair up until last year.
He’s a current parishioner and volunteer at both the Tanunda Lutheran Home Church and Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church.
Mr Joppich said he never did any of his volunteer service for glory or recognition.
“I did it because I love it,” he said.
“I have to thank whoever it was that put me forward (for the OAM), as well as my wife Irene.”
Mr Joppich is expected to be formally presented his OAM at a ceremony at Government House later this year.