Saturday, 5 November 2011

Vale Thomas Alfred Pyne | The people's Mayor

City bears legacy of visionary Tom Pyne

Daniel Strudwick
Saturday, November 5, 2011
© The Cairns Post

He was remembered as fondly for his decades of extraordinary civic leadership as he was for cutting the oranges for his son's junior footy team.

Tom Pyne’s funeral yesterday honoured a life both ordinary and remarkable. It was standing room only at St Monica’s Cathedral as politicians, business leaders, family and old mates gathered to farewell the city’s visionary former mayor. When Mr Pyne retired as the mayor of the amalgamated Cairns City Council in 2000, his unbroken 39 years in local government was a record stint, surpassed only by Sir Paddy Behan.

In his eulogy, Local Government Association chief Greg Hallam said Mr Pyne was one of the state’s sharpest political minds and would remain a "towering figure in the annals of local government history". As well as reading a list of Mr Pyne’s accomplishments in Cairns, Mr Hallam credited his mate with having the common touch."He knew the name of every SES worker, boy scout, girl guide, junior netballer and footballer, community volunteer, charity worker and taxi driver in Cairns," Mr Hallam said. "Tommy was an unbeatable politician on his patch … he was of the people."

With Mr Pyne’s wife Marion and family members in the pews, Mr Hallam said that family came first for the politician and "his heart was always in Edmonton". It was Mr Pyne the family man recalled most warmly by daughter Joann Pyne, who shared anecdotes from her father’s colourful life.

As a boy, Ms Pyne said her father’s devotion to his hometown of Deeral was so steadfast that he would "pee in the rain gauge" on his way to school to help outdo Babinda in the fierce local rivalry to be the region’s wettest town. And she described her Dad as the consummate local government man since first being elected to the Mulgrave Shire Council in 1961. "Somehow all of our family drives ended up with a new drainage project, sewerage treatment works or visiting a constituent who was unhappy about something," Ms Pyne said in her eulogy.

Mr Pyne died last Sunday after suffering a stroke, aged 76. During his terms in power, Mr Pyne oversaw construction of Copperlode Dam and the road to Yarrabah, helped advocate for an international airport in Cairns and centralised council departments at the Spence St building. He also staunchly protected the region’s green hillslopes and called the Cairns Esplanade and Lagoon his pet project.

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