Hor­sham leader dies sud­denly

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - – Dean Law­son

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.

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