Peter Faust on his wedding day, January 9, 1954.
Peter Faust on his wedding day, January 9, 1954. Contributed

VALE: The extraordinary man who helped build our community

A MAN well known for his contribution to our region has been farewelled at a funeral in Proserpine.

It was standing room only at St Catherine's Church as friends and family arrived to pay their respects to Peter Faust.

Mr Faust lived and breathed Proserpine and has long been celebrated for the instrumental role he has played in the region's growth, but with seven children, 19 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren and a few more great grandchildren on the way, it is evident that the family he has created with his wife Margaret is up there with his top achievements.

Tributes have flowed from Brisbane to Townsville and all places in between for Peter Faust, one of the Whitsunday region's most instrumental figures.

Mr Faust, 88, died on Saturday morning and since then newspapers in Brisbane, Mackay, Whitsundays and Townsville have published tributes detailing his legacy.

Mr Faust's grandaughter, Daisy, supplied the Whitsunday TIimes with a snippet of a letter he wrote before he died, and it embodies the saying, "Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman".

"Margaret and I were married on the ninth of January 1954, a memorable day. A day as which you would expect would change our lives," it reads.

"Margaret has been a wonderful wife to me and the most caring and loving mother to our children.

"Life has had its challenges but with the grace of God and mutual support we have managed well.

"And now our children have children of their own and their children have children of their own.

"There are times where I marvel at the fact that Margaret has become the matriarch of such a large brood and who can manage to share her love and affection to all.

"I, on the other hand, do not wear my heart on my sleeve but I too also love them all and pray most of all for their spiritual and temporal welfare."


Peter and Margaret Faust on their wedding day.
Peter and Margaret Faust on their wedding day, January 9, 1954. Contributed

The passing of a much-respected figure in regional development marks the end of an era, and the Courier-Mail's Michael Madigan has illustrated just how pioneering he was for the Whitsundays below:

HE WAS from another era, and would doubtlessly be dismissed as old-fashioned and out of touch by some of today's slicker breed of local government representatives, but Queensland lost something precious with the death of Peter Faust last Saturday morning.

A key figure in local government for decades, a driving force in regional Queensland development and the patriarch of a pioneering family who helped develop the north's grazing and sugar industries, Mr Faust reflected the practical values of Queensland's early agrarian origin.

He put his faith in hard work, fair dealings, family and, unlikely as it sounds in the 21st century, God.

The deeply committed Catholic somehow found time in busy life for daily mass and his family will attest that the key tenets of that faith consistently informed his behaviour, both public and private.

"He was devoted to his state, he was devoted to his region, he was devoted to his family and I think it could also be said of him that he was also devoted to his God," his son Peter said.

"It simply was not in him to take advantage of other people.

"I think we have all been fortunate to have had him in our lives."


Peter, seated with his great grandson Clancy. Standing is his son, Peter Faust (middle) with his son's Matthew (right) and Peter (left).
Peter, seated with his great grandson Clancy. Standing is his son, Peter Faust (middle) with his son's Matthew (right) and Peter (left). Contributed

Mr Faust, who was 88, died peacefully on Saturday morning surrounded by family.

He was the mayor of the Proserpine Shire in the 1970s and '80s in the Bjelke-Petersen era and his energy and intelligence made him a standout in the field of local government.

Among his many achievements was the creation of the Peter Faust Dam, the need for which became apparent in the late-1980s as he saw the tourism potential of nearby Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands begin to unfurl.

Mr Faust, whose family have been prominent in sugar and cattle for more than a century in a dynasty kicked off by Charles Williams Faust, owned land on which he knew an appropriately sized dam could be built. But Mr Faust also knew he was in for a financial setback if he was to hand that land over for development, even if there was a compensation package on offer.

"That land was worth about five times as much as we were offered," he recalled last October as he reminisced about his career.

"But you have to accept these things if you want to see the place develop."

He also used his persuasive and sometimes domineering personality to convince then one of Australia's richest men, aviation tycoon Reg Ansett, who owned Ansett Airlines, to financially back the expansion of the Proserpine Airport, which also played a key role in the growth of the Whitsundays.

Hard work was Mr Faust's mantra. He had the belief that if you put all your energy into pursuing a goal, you'd get there in the end.


Peter as a young boy, with his horse.
Peter as a young boy, with his horse. Contributed

His son Peter remembers that attitude springing into vigorous life whenever his father used the world 'par buckle'.

"When you were working on the farm and you heard 'we're gonna need a bit of par buckle here', you'd want to run for the hills, because you knew there was some seriously hard work ahead,' he recalls.

The word, used liberally by Mr Faust as verb or adjective, essentially means using something heavy to shift something even heavier.

It was only in his adult years that Peter Jr came to recognise the value of putting in a bit of par buckle.

He referenced the phrase in today's eulogy as a worthy metaphor for his father's entire life.

"What he really meant was when there is a task to be done, a problem to be solved, you devote yourself to getting that task done," Peter said.

"You see the thing through, and at the end of it you can rest easy, knowing you have achieved something good, something of worth, something you know you can be proud of."