City mourns one of its best So­lic­i­tor and fish­ing fa­natic, To­mas Bence dies aged 72

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

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