City mourns one of its best Solicitor and fishing fanatic, Tomas Bence dies aged 72
A GOLD COAST solicitor, and fishing fanatic has been remembered for his sense of humour and humble spirit.
Tomas Bence, who opened his one-man Southport practice in 1980, died this month after a six-year battle with cancer aged 72.
Mr Bence, who was widely respected for his generosity in providing free legal work, served as the president of the Gold Coast Jewish Community Services from 1999 to 2013, and was the Solicitor for the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia in the Gold Coast from 1989 to 2016.
Outside of his regular pro-bono work, Mr Bence frequently assisted many clubs and associations on the Gold Coast free of charge.
Through this work his reputation as a measured and understanding voice grew.
Fellow Rotary Club of Gold Coast member and friend Phil Rosenberg said the city had lost one of its kindest residents. “Charitable is an understatement – he was always helping somebody without dreaming of charging them,” he said.
“If there were more people like him, the world would be a much better place, but he was very humble.”
According to Mr Rosenberg, Mr Bence would be blushing at the thought of a story being published about his contributions.
“He would rather do something and have nobody know about it, that was just his way,” he said.
“The Gold Coast has lost a really good person, there are not many like that.”
Mr Bence’s early years were very different to his sun-soaked life on the Gold Coast as an adult.
He was born in Romania in 1945 – his parents and elder brother, aunt and grandmother all survived the Holocaust but his grandfather died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The family escaped to communist Hungary and settled in Sydney after World War II.
Mr Bence went north to study law at the University of Queensland and also ran unsuccessfully as the Liberal Party candidate for the Brisbane seat of Baroona in 1969.
It was his love of fishing that eventually brought him to the Gold Coast.
His daughter Peta Downie, who described her father as “a beautiful, kind man”, said he would have preferred to have been a professional fisherman.
“Dad could talk and talk and talk about fishing – he loved to fish, cook fish and talk fishing – but he also had a passion for his family,” Peta said.“He was an honest man, a good solicitor and I will miss him so much. Some may say I was spoiled, I say I was well loved.”
Mr Bence is survived by his ex-wife Robyn, children David and Peta, and granddaughter Samantha..
The late Tom Bence with granddaughter Samantha Downie on Father’s Day in 2015.