(Clockwise from left) Julia Lawrence, John Buckley, Anita Ricketts, Geoffrey Reisenleiter and Madonna Hedberg were among the colourful characters the region lost in 2019.
(Clockwise from left) Julia Lawrence, John Buckley, Anita Ricketts, Geoffrey Reisenleiter and Madonna Hedberg were among the colourful characters the region lost in 2019.

Gympie region icons who lost their lives in 2019

A NUMBER of holes were opened in Gympie’s heart last year as the region mourned the loss of a number of amazing and colourful characters who helped define the region.

David Anderson

David Anderson with wife Margaret.
David Anderson with wife Margaret.

AS COOLOOLA Shire Council’s first deputy mayor and a vice-president of Meals on Wheels, David Anderson’s legacy stretches wide across the Gympie region.

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Dallas “Vern” Berry

Vern Berry.
Vern Berry.

DESCRIBED as Kilkivan’s “favourite son”, Vern Berry’ was renowned for his continued community support in the region’s west.

A building at the new Kilkivan Equestrian Centre was named in Mr Berry’s honour when it opened in December.

Brian Bourke

Brian Bourke.
Brian Bourke.

BRIAN Bourke will be remembered as hard working, honest, with a wry sense of humour, a larrikin, good bloke, teller of yarns but mostly as a loving husband, family man who was proud of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Stanley Brown

Stanley Brown (Mickelo).
Stanley Brown (Mickelo).

STANLEY Brown (Mickelo) is being remembered as a larrikin who loved to help his community. Mr Brown was a regular volunteer at the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival and was remembered by family as the “kind of guy who would pull over and help you with a flat tyre”.

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Stephen “John” Buckley

JOHN BUCKLEY.
JOHN BUCKLEY.

Mr Buckley established John Buckley Electrical with his wife Carolyn in 1981, with the business serving the region for 37 years.

Mr Buckley’s support for the region stretched not only from donations and sponsorship, but in helping businesses shift during floods – usually free of charge.

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Chris Butt

Chris Butt.
Chris Butt.

WHEN former Gympie Times deputy editor Chris Butt died suddenly on April 6, the world lost one of its great and joyful adventurers.

Mr Butt is also remembered as an aggressive and talented rugby union player, as well as a fan of rugby league.

He coached the Gympie Hammers in the late 1980s and is remembered as a much-loved part of the Hammers family.

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Phil Cave

Phil Cave.
Phil Cave.

THE Gympie region and Noosa farewelled a strong stalwart when it celebrated the life of a man who grew up in this region and saw Noosa grow from a small fishing village into a tourism icon.

A Noosa Surf Life Saving Club life member, Second World War veteran, rugby league tyro, councillor, farmer and father of five, Mr Cave also carried the 1956 Olympic torch at Pomona.

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Madonna Hedberg

Madonna Hedberg with husband Lars.
Madonna Hedberg with husband Lars.

“MADONNA was a city girl who had to learn all about branding and weed spraying.”

This is but one of Lars Hedberg’s memories and only part of the life story of prominent Gympie businesswoman Madonna Hedberg, whose career spanned airlines, fast food and horses.

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David Hewitt

David Hewitt.
David Hewitt.

DAVID Hewitt was an active member of the Rainbow Beach Surf Life Saving Club ever since he was 14.

He was also a frequent sight paddling in the Noosa River and around Yabba Creek throughout his life.

Sadly the 62-year-old who was a well-respected member of the Rainbow Beach and Gympie community had a stroke on Christmas Eve and was flown to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital in a critical condition.

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Amanda King

Amanda King.
Amanda King.

FORMER Special Olympian Amanda King will always be remembered for her beautiful smile.

The young newlywed passed away suddenly on Tuesday, December 10.

Her former coach Natalie Upshall said Amanda was a hard worker, putting her heart into achieving her goals, not just in the sporting fields of tenpin bowling, bocce and athletics, but into her life in general.

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Julia Lawrence

Cowboys and JT supporter Julia Lawrence from Gympie.
Cowboys and JT supporter Julia Lawrence from Gympie.

A SAD loss for the Gympie region as beloved community stalwart, former councillor, inspiration and social commentator Julia Lawrence died aged 90 years old.

The Order of Australia recipient was always humble and straightforward, no nonsense and hard working. A dedicated wife and mother, a councillor and a volunteer with a healthy sense of justice and humour.

“I’m surprised I’m here,” she said last year on the occasion of her 90th birthday, for which she threw a party at Gunabul.

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Erich Michalowitz

Erich Michalowitz
Erich Michalowitz

RUNNING one of Amamoor’s largest orchards was only part of Erich Michalowitz’s remarkable life.

The Mary Valley and Widgee resident’s life started amid the horrors of WWII before moving around Europe and India before finally packing up and settling in Australia.

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Noel Ormes

Noel Ormes.
Noel Ormes.

A MEMBER of the Chatsworth Rural Fire Brigade, Noel Ormes was a popular figure with a reputation for going out of his way to help others – including driving by customers’ houses to check if it was time to mow their lawns again.

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Maree Prior

Maree Prior..
Maree Prior..

TRIBUTES flowed for much loved Tin Can Bay conservationist Maree Prior who died at the age of 59 from a neuroendocrine tumour, surrounded by family and friends on Sunday night.

She led many projects to protect and enhance the natural environment of the Cooloola Coast including working on high profile maritime archaeology projects such as Pandora Expedition and two Australian Bicentennial expeditions in 1987 and 1988.

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Geoffrey Reisenleiter

Geoff Reisenleiter
Geoff Reisenleiter

WELL known Gympie region banker, farmer, sawmiller, caterer, cricketer, marksman, groundsman and horse racing identity, Geoffrey Reisenleiter was a man who loved his life and his family.

Mr Reisenleiter’s career spanned multiple industries, from bank teller at Westpac to growing mangoes, avocados, eggplant, beans, capsicum and grazing cattle at Mooloo before launching a catering company with his wife Thelma.

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Anita Ricketts

Anita Ricketts.
Anita Ricketts.

THE family and friends of much-loved Gympie businesswoman Anita Ricketts remember her as a “pioneer” following her death at the age of 79.

A pursuer of many passions over at least four decades at the forefront of the Gympie business scene, she began her journey alongside late husband Bob with the opening of The Jean Scene in the mid-1970s.

In about 1986 they became managers of the Shady Rest motel, before opening Cullie’s Coffee Shop in Cullinane’s Plaza.

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Rhoda Small

Rhoda and Dale Small celebrate her 103rd birthday at the Gympie RSL in 2018.
Rhoda and Dale Small celebrate her 103rd birthday at the Gympie RSL in 2018.

ONE of the region’s most incredible innings came to a close last year when Rhoda Small died at the age of 103.

Last year she said the secret to this was “When I went to school I jumped from Grade 1 to Grade 3 – that’s how I got through life, pretending I knew things”.

“I haven’t done too bad in life. I’ve always tried everything.”

Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor.
Karen Taylor.

DESCRIBED by her friends as “very fit, active and a kind-hearted soul” and a huge part of the community Mrs Taylor was widely recognised as the cheery retail assistant at IGA for more than a decade.

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Alex Zaccardi

Alex Zaccardi with his wife Jackie Zaccardi in happier times.
Alex Zaccardi with his wife Jackie Zaccardi in happier times.

A much-loved husband, father, uncle and brother, Alex Zaccardi also became a grandfather 10 days before he died. For 27 years, he lived with a chronic back condition after spinal fusion surgery on his spine as a 25-year-old made his back pain unbearable.

Daughter Arielle Stubbs said her father was “the best stay-at-home dad to us three kids that we could’ve imagined, you were always present in our lives and you gave us everything we ever wanted plus more”.

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