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City farewells a tireless servant

Friday, 10th April, 2015

John Simons was instrumental in the development of the Living Desert. John Simons was instrumental in the development of the Living Desert.

By Emily Roberts

The city of Broken Hill has lost a passionate supporter of the local community, a man who breathed life into the Living Desert.

Former City Councillor William John Simons passed away on Thursday, April 2 at the Broken Hill Hospital.

He was born on July 26, 1931 in Broken Hill.

John Simons’ working life began at the Silverton Tramway company.

“I used to help him on the trucks,” his son Wayne recalled yesterday. “They were tough times, but it was a good life.”

John then started working for an electrical company called Ridley’s and he proved to be a “handy sort of guy”, always helping his family.

He had a strong passion for the community and joined the Broken Hill Branch of the Labor Party.

John run for Alderman with the local council and was first elected on September 1987 and served continuously until March 27, 2004.

He served as Deputy Mayor in 1999 to 2001 and from 2002 to 2004.

He also served on many Council standing committees, in-house council committees, and council section committees such as the 527 and 355 as well as many external committees.

In 2003, John resigned from the Labor Party and stood for Mayor as an Independent, narrowly missing out on the position.

“I think his main legacy was the Living Desert,” Wayne said. “There were a lot of people involved but he pushed for it.”

While in Council, John lobbied state and federal politicians such as Joe Hockey and John Cobb.

In 1997, John Cobb delivered a briefing on endangered species in parliament, and said: “The need is great to set up another endangered species area in an arid area where most of these animals lived.

“In particular, Broken Hill would be an ideal place for that.

“There is strong community and council support for this and I pay particular tribute to Councillor John Simons, who has done a tremendous amount of work in this area.”

John lobbied for many causes in the city, including the introduction of warning lights at railway crossings, and to stop the dumping of mine waste.

John also served on the board of the Far West Regional Development, West State Training and Robinson College.

He also served on the board of the Sulphide Street Railway Museum Trust and shared his time with all these organisations and with family and friends.

He was also passionate about the development of Argent Street.

“He was a regular contributor and voice in the community,” Wayne said.

“’Disposable dollars’ was one of his catch cries.

“He was still contributing up until the time he passed away.”

Wayne said his father was overjoyed to see his only grandchild, Lachlan, get into the University of Technology, Sydney.

“It was one of his great joys to see Lachlan get a scholarship into UTS in software technology. He was tickled pink.”

Wayne said he has been blown away by all the condolences and public support given.

He will be sadly missed.

He leaves behind children Tracy and Wayne, grandson Lachlan and son-in-law Mark.

John’s funeral is on Saturday at 10.30am at the Wesley Uniting Church in Cobalt Street.

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