Horsham leader dies suddenly
Long-time Horsham community advocate and municipal leader Don Johns, OAM, JP, 83, has died after a sudden and unexpected battle with cancer.
Mr Johns, who for decades has been a tireless campaigner for Horsham development, progress and services, died at Ballarat’s St John of God hospital early Monday morning.
His death came 17 years to the day he received Order of Australia recognition for his service to the community.
Mr Johns only discovered the extent of his illness early last week and was with his wife Jo and six children at the time of his death.
Mr Johns was an outspoken and driving force on many projects including Wimmera Health Care Group Foundation and Horsham’s push for national recognition through a Tidy Towns program and was also a key figure in a Don’t Rubbish Australia campaign, the precursor to the Keep Australia Beautiful movement.
As well as his OAM, he was a life member of Keep Australia Beautiful and recipient of a Federal Government Centenary Medal. He had an honorary doctorate from Federation University and also had many other community awards.
A retired Horsham pharmacist, he was a Horsham councillor and threetime mayor, following in the footsteps of his father James Johns, a long-time Wimmera Shire councillor and president.
He dedicated much of his adult life to working to promote Horsham district interests and was a signatory to many regional milestone achievements in water supply, health and so- cial-benefit sectors. Among his many achievements was initiating moves to establish municipal waste-transfer and big-bin systems, a direction relatively unheard of in western Victoria at the time but one that revolutionised regional waste management.
He was Horsham Regional Art Gallery president for many years and a keen player, follower and promoter of Horsham sporting teams, especially Horsham Football Netball Club. He attended a match between Horsham and Minyip-murtoa a week before his death.
He was a Uniting Church elder for four decades and a long-time member of Horsham City Lions Club and Masonic Lodge.
At one stage he was chairman of 11 Horsham community organisations and remained unashamedly parochial in promoting Horsham and Horsham projects until his death.
Mr Johns is survived by his wife Jo, children Ian, Andrew, Timothy, Stuart and twins David and Josephine and 15 grandchildren.
As part of Mr Johns’ wishes, the family is planning a private funeral and will announce details of a community service in the near future where the broader public can pay respects.
COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: Don Johns will be remembered for his passion and commitment to the community he was part of.