Silver City to farewell favourite bus driver
Wednesday, 14th August, 2019
George Coomblas was many things; a farmer, a mathematician, a businessman, he was generous and had a great sense humour.
George, known by many in Broken Hill, died last Saturday at the age of 88.
He was born in Warnertown, SA, on April 15, 1931, the second son of parents Nicholas and Gertrude Coomblas.
He met the love of his life, Toula, and the pair enjoyed a great union of 64 years. Together they had three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Diane Cotterill will be giving the welcome for his service today and said that many people knew George.
“So many of us, including me, were touched in some way by this man, as a relative, a friend, business acquaintance - not to mention the many, many thousands of children and adults he transported around town or on excursions to various destinations ‘away’,” Diane wrote in her service.
“George was a self-made man - if anyone could have been said to have ‘pulled himself up by his bootstraps’, it was George.”
George was a great community man and “people person”. He was president of the Greek Community Club, for a time Grandmaster of the Freemasons Lodge, a past member of the Probus Club, Vintage Car Club, and he played bowls and golf.
George loved his black and white footy teams - Port Adelaide, Collingwood and on a local level the Central Football Club.
“He had a lifelong interest in trucks and gardening, maintaining a little market garden at the side of the family home in Long Street,” Diane said.
George was known for running a coach company in the city and transporting many people to and from Broken Hill.
His son John, in his eulogy, said George was many things and used his life lessons to shape his own life.
“Growing up on the outskirts of Port Pirie on a farm taught him valuable lessons in agriculture and resilience - often under harsh conditions both physically and mentally,” John said.
“He was one of six brothers and you can imagine the dynamics as each and every one of them was quite different in personality.
“They all worked hard to support the farm and keep food on the table.”
George left the farm when he was about 17, to travel to Adelaide to see what life had to offer.
John said his parents moved to Broken Hill when he was 18 months old to start up the office for Bonds Tours.
“It was a coach company owned by Bert Bond,” John said.
“He wanted to secure the lucrative connection between Adelaide and Broken Hill and asked Dad and Mum to come here with their three young children - get the business up and running and when it was established return to Adelaide; that was 55 years ago.”
John said they worked with a number of companies before starting their own charter business G and T Silver City Coach.
“There were bowls clubs, cricket clubs, football trips, band trips - one of his favourites was the Cameron Pipe Band, who he had taken on trips countless times and loved it.
“Dad had taken so many of the band’s trips, that he became an unofficial uniform inspector and could be heard telling the members to adjust their socks and sporrans.
“Dad was a hard worker who never shied away from a challenge and was never considered lazy or a time waster. With the help of mum, he put a roof over our head and food on the table.”
Eldest son Nick said George prepared them for life.
“Our Dad was our teacher in life, he was a hard taskmaster but he always had his reasons for doing it this way,” Nick said.
“He never asked you to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself. He would always challenge us to do our best, he was preparing us for our lives that were to come.”
Despite working hard, George had a quick wit.
Nick recalled a story about his father when he was running the bus office out of Oxide Street.
A man who wanted to catch the bus only half way to Adelaide came into the office and said: “George, do you let off at Yunta?”
George replied: “Mate, I’m not fussy where I let off.”
Daughter Kathy said George’s wife, children and family were the great loves of his life.
“Between his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who he loved so very much we may never know who earned the status of top points in the family,” she said.
“Dad has no idea of the legacy he has left behind, but probably one of the most important is the ability to find a George Coomblas park.
“Doesn’t matter how full a car park is, like Moses parting the seas, a park would appear right at the front door.
“Taking photographic evidence of your George Coomblas park is a must and has become a favourite family tradition.”
Kathy said she has many wonderful memories of her father.
“I cherished weekend drives with you and Mum and stopping off at McDonalds for a soft serve.
“No trip to Adelaide or Port Pirie will ever be the same, nothing compares to your minute-by-minute narration of each bend, bridge, creek, bump, railway siding or any other point of interest or person along the way.”
* The family thanked the Broken Hill Renal Unit and Dr Wenham and the Palliative Care Team for all their support as well as everyone who helped or provided support while George was sick and in the past week. George’s family and friends will celebrate his life and say goodbye at his funeral service to be held at Wesley Uniting Church, Cobalt Street, today at 10.30am. George will be privately interred at the Warnertown Cemetery.