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Locals farewell legend at service

Friday, 13th February, 2015

Broken Hill yesterday farewelled one of its greatest citizens, Rudolph Alagich (OAM). Broken Hill yesterday farewelled one of its greatest citizens, Rudolph Alagich (OAM).

By Erica Visser

Karl Pirak met Rudolph Alagich when they were just boys living in their Croatian coastal home town of Makarska.

Since then 86 years have passed filled with family, friends and countless games of soccer, bocce and even table tennis; the pair were versatile. 

So it was with a heavy heart that Mr Pirak travelled to the city from Lennox Head to farewell his oldest friend yesterday at a service held at the Civic Centre.

In all their decades of friendship, Mr Pirak said he had never seen Rudi angry and that he had always been popular.

He recalled that in their first game of soccer the team did not know where to position Rudi, and given he was “always plump” they placed him in goals - where he went on to excel. 

“He was a very placid man, he was very passionate - I didn’t like to get into an argument (with him) about politics,” he said jokingly.

“Always well-liked and very polite.”

That was a sentiment shared by around 250 mourners who attended yesterday’s service, where Mayor Wincen Cuy called Mr Alagich a “friend and stalwart” of Broken Hill.

“Rudi has passed on to generation after generation his love and his determination to see Broken Hill succeed,” Mayor Cuy said.

During the ceremony, family members adorned his coffin with symbols of his life including a soccer ball and his first pair of tailor’s scissors.

Former Governor of South Australia, Sir Eric Neal AC CVO, who had known Rudi since 1950, paid during the service via an audio message.  

“Hard work, sportsmanship, values, a sense of humour and respect for family and friends are just some of the attributes of Rudolph Alagich,” he said.

“As of course those big hands that served him so well as a goalie and later as a tailor showing customers how well the jacket fitted!” 

Rudi’s children Richard Alagich and Nancy Keenan took to the stage to share their love of their father.

It was Richard who perhaps summed up the occasion best with these words, “It’s been said Broken Hill has lost a fine ambassador...With the greatest respect, Australia has lost a fine ambassador with the death of Rudolph Alagich.”

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