Pay­ing tribute to Clarence Val­ley peo­ple we farewelled in 2018

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EACH year the Clarence Val­ley loses a lit­tle of its iden­tity when the res­i­dents that make up this great com­mu­nity see out their fi­nal days here. As a new year be­gins we re­flect upon these peo­ple and pay tribute to a few of those we lost in 2018:

Jan­uary: Don Scott

GRAFTON diesel me­chanic Don Scott died on New Year’s Day 2018 aged 53.

The cortege to his burial site led by a con­voy of trucks driven by his MI Or­gan­ics col­leagues, an ode to hard-work­ing man who was fought and lost his bat­tle with ill­ness.

Mr Scott was born and raised in Grafton, a happy child who as­tounded his fam­ily by his amaz­ing prow­ess for solv­ing puz­zles from a young age. Schooled in South Grafton, he be­gan his work­ing life as a diesel me­chanic ap­pren­tice at Cum­mins, where his ap­ti­tude for learn­ing con­tin­ued, study­ing as many spec sheets he could find on trucks and ma­chin­ery as well as mem­o­ris­ing ev­ery edi­tion of

Truck­ing Life he owned.

Af­ter com­plet­ing his ap­pren­tice­ship, he worked for the fam­ily log­ging busi­ness for many years, and his yearn­ing for knowl­edge in truck­ing and tech­nol­ogy meant he was at the fore­front of in­dus­try ad­vance­ments as they hap­pened. A mem­ber of IAME (In­sti­tute of Au­to­mo­tive Me­chan­i­cal En­gi­neers), Mr Scott took pride in pass­ing his wealth of knowl­edge to any­one to wanted to know.

Be­sides his love of trucks, he played the bag­pipes from a young age and was a mem­ber of the Grafton Dis­trict Pipe Band. He wrote two pipe tunes for a com­pe­ti­tion when Princess Di­ana died and was com­mended for them.

Af­ter sell­ing his in­ter­est in the fam­ily busi­ness, he went to work for MI Or­gan­ics in Grafton, where he re­mained un­til ill­ness made it im­pos­si­ble to con­tinue.

Mr Scott was born with por­tal hy­per­ten­sion, di­ag­nosed at age 10, he started to en­counter dif­fi­cul­ties at 19 which con­tin­ued to re­oc­cur in var­i­ous forms which he bat­tled on and off over the course of his life. In 2017, he was di­ag­nosed with a rare form of bone mar­row can­cer. Treat­ment made him worse but he con­tin­ued to sol­dier on as best he could un­til his death on New Year’s Day.

His friends and fam­ily shared in his suf­fer­ing un­til his death, pay­ing tribute to his brave­ness and sto­icism at his fu­neral.“He fought the good fight ’til the end.”

Jan­uary: Holly Butcher

THE death of young Clarence Val­ley woman Holly Butcher made an im­pact around the world.

De­prived of a full life be­cause of a rare can­cer, Ewings Sar­coma, Holly’s mes­sage went vi­ral when it was re­leased upon her death in Jan­uary.

Her mes­sage of hope were sage words from a young woman who touched the hearts of peo­ple from all walks of life, in­clud­ing leg­endary mu­si­cian Cat Stevens who met Holly in the weeks be­fore her death and shared her mes­sage to his le­gions of fans.

The once happy, healthy ath­letic young woman’s or­deal at­tracted at­ten­tion around the world. Her plea to do­nate blood af­ter it gave her an ex­tra year of life in­spired 5000 new do­na­tions, a pow­er­ful ges­ture from some­one who gave it her all to the very end.

Fe­bru­ary: Irene Crispin

ONE of the Clarence Val­ley’s well-loved res­i­dents and trea­sures, Irene Crispin has passed away at the age of 104.

Son Neville (who also died later in 2018) said his mother died on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 23 af­ter a short ill­ness, and paid tribute to her longevity and char­ac­ter.

The Clarence Val­ley’s se­cond-old­est res­i­dent put her longevity down to train­ing grey­hounds and a pos­i­tive out­look which she re­it­er­ated at her 104th birth­day:

“My grand­mother said to me when I was a lit­tle girl, ‘you’re put in this world to help your fel­low man If you can’t do him a good turn, never do him a bad one’, and I’ve tried to ad­here to that all my life. God’s been good to me and I’ve had a good life, a happy life, and I’ve met such lovely peo­ple I can call my friends.

“What more can you ask?”

May: Tony White

FOR­MER Daily Ex­am­iner sports re­porter and vet­eran rac­ing writer Tony White died in May aged 64 af­ter bat­tling the ef­fects of a stroke for nearly two years. He had only re­cently moved from Yamba to the Cen­tral Coast, where he spent his fi­nal days in a nurs­ing home.

By the time he be­gan work­ing at

The DEX in the early 2000s, he had a 30-year ca­reer with AAP and The

Daily Tele­graph as one of the lead­ing rac­ing writ­ers in the coun­try. He worked at the Daily and Sun­day

Tele­graphs dur­ing the 1980s, hav­ing com­menced his ca­reer in the me­dia with AAP (Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press) in the 1970s.

When he ven­tured north to Grafton he cov­ered rac­ing and gen­eral sport for The DEX be­fore writ­ing as a free­lance, fil­ing coun­try rac­ing ar­ti­cles for Rac­ing NSW, Fair­fax and AAP.

Tony was also a cham­pion surfer in the late 1970s and ’80s, com­pet­ing on the world surf­ing tour and last year was in­ducted into the Aus­tralian Surf­ing Walk of Fame at his beloved Maroubra Beach.

June: Tim Clark

TIM Clark, ‘Noe’ to his mates (Clark with no ‘e’), died from a pri­mary brain tu­mour glioblas­toma mul­ti­forme in June.

The oth­er­wise fit and healthy 57-year-old Grafton plas­terer was di­ag­nosed with the ter­mi­nal dis­ease in Septem­ber 2017 af­ter get­ting headaches and the young fam­ily was thrust into the ter­ri­ble re­al­ity of fac­ing a life ahead with­out him.

The Grafton com­mu­nity nat­u­rally stepped up to help as much as they could by or­gan­is­ing one of the largest trivia events in the his­tory of the Help­ing Hands or­gan­i­sa­tion, with around 600 peo­ple at­tend­ing and more than $40,000 raised for the Clark fam­ily.

Mr Clark was a hard-work­ing pop­u­lar tradie and friend of many, the out­pour­ing of sup­port in­dica­tive of his much-loved pres­ence. His ded­i­ca­tion to the sport he loved, bas­ket­ball, was hon­oured by the as­so­ci­a­tion when they in­tro­duced the in­au­gu­ral Tim “Noe” Clark Me­mo­rial Shield later that year.

July: Kelly Cas­sidy

McKIT­TRICK Park South Grafton was bathed in a sea of red and white in July to hon­our the life of Kelly Cas­sidy, the colours of her two favourite teams.

Fam­ily, friends and col­leagues gather from around Aus­tralia to cel­e­brate the life of the ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant to the St Ge­orge Il­lar­warra Rugby League club’s CEO Pe­ter Doust, who died in Wol­lon­gong from the ef­fects of a stroke, aged 41.

The for­mer South Grafton Rebels strap­per worked with St Ge­orge Leagues Club for 20 years be­gin­ning her ca­reer there as a part-time bar­maid.

“She was so to­tally de­voted to her job she came back here to visit us twice a year, we were her part-time fam­ily. The rest of the time she was with her St Ge­orge fam­ily, 24/7,” her mother Ro­mayne Houri­gan said.

Mrs Houri­gan ex­pressed the peace the fam­ily found in her daugh­ter’s wish to par­tic­i­pate in the or­gan do­na­tion pro­gram if any­thing were to hap­pen to her. “It was the hard­est de­ci­sion I’ve ever had to make... but four peo­ple are now alive and have a chance of life be­cause of her do­na­tion,” she said at the time.

Au­gust: An­drew Tar­rant

AN­DREW Tar­rant had a spe­cial soul, his wife Ker­rie said, and it was a soul that touched many peo­ple’s lives. Her words proved true when more than 400 peo­ple lined the river­front at Me­mo­rial Park in Grafton to re­mem­ber his life.

Over­look­ing the Clarence River that An­drew loved so much, fam­ily, friends, col­leagues and stu­dents said good­bye to one of the kind­est and most gen­er­ous men they’d met.

He worked in ed­u­ca­tion for 15 years, he con­nected with stu­dents be­cause of his friendly na­ture but not hav­ing been a high-fly­ing aca­demic at school, he un­der­stood where many stu­dents came from

An­drew, who died on Au­gust 5 fol­low­ing a bat­tle with gas­troin­testi­nal can­cer, was born at Run­nymede Hos­pi­tal in Jan­uary 1959 and grew up on a fam­ily farm on South­gate Rd.

He was a mem­ber of the Su­san and El­iz­a­beth Is­land Trust, a life mem­ber of Yamba Surf Life Sav­ing Club, a

mem­ber of Grafton Row­ing Club, Grafton Wa­ter Brigade and Grafton Mid­day Ro­tary Club.

FOR­MER Grafton Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal David Brown died in Au­gust af­ter a brief ill­ness due to mesothe­lioma, a re­sult from ex­po­sure to as­bestos while work­ing with a fa­ther and grand­fa­ther who were builders and his over­see­ing of school re­pairs over many years.

Mr Brown came to the Clarence Val­ley in 1980 as prin­ci­pal of Grafton Pub­lic School, a po­si­tion he re­tained un­til his re­tire­ment in 1996.

Dur­ing that time he dis­cov­ered a love of cy­cling and par­tic­u­larly the gru­elling Grafton to In­verell Cy­cle Clas­sic. By 1989, Mr Brown had put enough miles in his legs to en­ter the race and at 53 be­came the event’s old­est first-up com­peti­tor.

Off the bike and out of the play­ground Mr Brown was also a reg­u­lar let­ter writer to The Daily

Ex­am­iner, where his wit and per­cep­tion were en­joyed.

For­mer stu­dents and col­leagues trav­elled from all over Aus­tralia to pay their re­spects to the man who in­spired them through­out their school ca­reers.

Au­gust: Aunty Pauline ‘Nola’ Gordon

THE Clarence Val­ley lost one of its great indige­nous and com­mu­nity cham­pi­ons, Pauline ‘Nola’ Gordon.

Mrs Gordon, of Grafton and Baryulgil, died on Au­gust 27, aged 85. She was the the widow of Ken ‘Linky’ Gordon.

A mem­ber of the Stolen Gen­er­a­tion, Mrs Gordon be­came a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for her peo­ple in the fields of health and ed­u­ca­tion.

In re­sponse to the dis­as­trous ef­fects of the Baryulgil as­bestos mine, she and her hus­band were in­stru­men­tal in set­ting up the Abo­rig­i­nal Med­i­cal Ser­vice.

Her ex­per­tise was such she spoke at indige­nous and en­vi­ron­men­tal fo­rums in Nor­way, Paris, Rio De Janeiro and South Dakota.

“I do be­lieve in get­ting around and ... let­ting peo­ple know who we are as a peo­ple (and that) white Aus­tralia does also have a black his­tory. I think that racial di­vi­sions hap­pen when peo­ple don’t un­der­stand each other and that’s when you get dis­crim­i­na­tion, so if you just in­form peo­ple about each other then there’ll be less prob­lems,” she told The Daily

Ex­am­iner in an in­ter­view in 2006. Mrs Gordon was a be­liever in life-long ed­u­ca­tion, in 2006 grad­u­at­ing from the In­sti­tute of Indige­nous Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion in Dar­win with a Bach­e­lor of Arts, ma­jor­ing in So­cial Sciences.

IT IS not of­ten a stand­ing ova­tion is ob­served at a fu­neral. But then again Vicki Win­mill was no or­di­nary woman. The great-grand­mother from Ul­marra was a his­tory-maker. She was a hero. She was an or­gan donor.

Vicki cre­ated a mo­ment of med­i­cal his­tory when she be­came the first per­son to have their or­gans pro­cessed at Grafton Base Hos­pi­tal.

The 71-year-old do­nated her kid­neys and eyes af­ter a brain aneurysm trag­i­cally took her from her lov­ing fam­ily in Septem­ber.

Septem­ber: Jim Agnew OAM

THE say­ing “when you leave a place, it should be in bet­ter shape than when you found it”, might have been penned with Lower Clarence cham­pion Jim Agnew in mind.

The long-time Lower Clarence cham­pion has left, Yamba, Maclean, his home­town of War­ren and the world a re­mark­able legacy.

Mr Agnew died in the Opal Nurs­ing Home, Dubbo, on Septem­ber 27 at the age of 93, a lit­tle more than two years af­ter the open­ing of the Yamba Com­mu­nity Health Cen­tre, which bears his name.

It was his swan­song af­ter 26 years of com­mu­nity ac­tivism that be­gan when Jim and his wife Grace (dec) ar­rived in Yamba in 1990.

As all of the politi­cians who rep­re­sented the elec­torate in that time came to find out, Jim Agnew was not a man who would take no for an an­swer. One of those was MP for Clarence Chris Gu­lap­tis, who penned a tribute to Mr Agnew to be read at his fu­neral.

Mr Gu­lap­tis re­called he was a “cocky” Mayor of Maclean Shire when he first ran into Mr Agnew in 2001 or 2002.

“Maclean had an am­bu­lance sta­tion and it was only 20 min­utes from Yamba and the cries for an am­bu­lance sta­tion for Yamba by the lo­cals had fallen on deaf ears for the 20 years I had lived in the Lower Clarence.

“I told Jim it would never hap­pen. “This didn’t stop Jim. Jim went and saw the then State Mem­ber for Clarence, Harry Woods, and Harry told him the same thing.

“How wrong we were.”

Septem­ber: Vir­ginia Hundt

DE­SCRIBED by friends as a beau­ti­ful soul and woman of great strength and courage, Grafton milliner Vir­ginia Hundt died in Septem­ber.

With rock­a­billy flair and frocks to make ev­ery woman’s heart sing, her la­bels Wicked Dame and Belle du Jour were much-loved cloth­ing lines for many fash­ion­istas, not to men­tion the high de­mand for her cus­tom-made hats.

She was an ad­vo­cate of 1950s style and in­spi­ra­tion to many fans and or­gan­i­sa­tions within that genre, the in­sti­ga­tor of Grafton’s Retro­fest that is still fea­ture of the Jacaranda Fes­ti­val.

“This world will mourn our loss of such a divine pres­ence, mother of two, dear­est friend, quick-wit­ted, sailor-mouthed in­tel­lect whose cre­ations were as unique as her per­son­al­ity,” said a friend.

Septem­ber: Lau­rie Stephen­son

IT WAS stand­ing room only at Christ Church Cathe­dral as hun­dreds gath­ered to say good­bye to Cop­man­hurst cam­p­draft­ing and sport­ing Lau­rie Clif­ford Stephen­son in Septem­ber.

Fam­ily and friends from across the Clarence Val­ley and Aus­tralia gath­ered to pay their re­spects to Mr Stephen­son, who died aged 84.

The man who “loved and was loved” was de­scribed as a “gen­tle man who was a gen­tle­man”.

Mr Stephen­son was born in Grafton and lived his early life on the Bar­retts Creek homestead, where his fa­ther was a stock­man and he be­gan his life­long love of horses.

Af­ter leav­ing Grafton High, he re­turned to Bar­retts Creek and worked as a stock­man, be­fore en­ter­ing Na­tional Ser­vice in 1954. He met his fu­ture wife Elaine at a dance at Coal­dale Hall, and the love that blos­somed from the first dance be­came a won­der­ful part­ner­ship that lasted some 60 years.

While Mr Stephen­son was a sports­men of note in a num­ber of sports, it was in cam­p­draft where he ex­celled. He was won The Daily

Ex­am­iner Sports Star of the Year Award in 1980.

Oc­to­ber: An­gelo No­taras OAM

PART of Grafton’s No­taras dy­nasty, An­gelo No­taras OAM, died in Oc­to­ber aged 85 af­ter a short ill­ness.

Along with his broth­ers John and Mitchell and cousin Spiro, An­gelo re­fur­bished Grafton’s Sara­ton The­atre in 2010, a fit­ting legacy to the city the fam­ily loved.

“An­gelo did most of the be­hind-the-scenes plan­ning for the project, while Spiro was more hands-on, work­ing with the builders,” long-time No­taras Sawmill em­ployee Donna Lay­ton said at the time.

An­gelo No­taras was an in­ven­tor and busi­ness­man whose work with small en­gines spawned the highly suc­cess­ful Atom In­dus­tries.

He was also a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for the Aus­tralian Greek com­mu­nity through the Kythe­rian As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia.

In the 2014 Aus­tralia Day Hon­ours, An­gelo re­ceived the Medal of the Order of Aus­tralia in the Gen­eral Divi­sion for his work with her­itage build­ings and the Aus­tralian and Greek com­mu­ni­ties.

Photo: Si­mon Hughes

FAREWELL: Rac­ing writer Tony White.

MAIN IM­AGE: Holly Butcher, from above left: An­drew Tar­rant, Tim ‘Noe’ Clark (with wife Jenny), Lau­rie Stephen­son.

Pho­tos: Con­trib­uted

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