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Blighty’s gentleman

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August 09, 2017

He was a farmer and keen sportsman, but Donald Gilbert Henderson’s most memorable work was as a Conargo Shire Councillor.

Aged 87, Donald Snr (pictured) died on Friday as a result of medical complications following a fall.

The father of three — to Donald Jnr, Janet Clarke and John — and grandfather of nine was the third generation of his family to have held a seat on the Conargo Shire Council.

He succeeded his father Donald and grandfather John, elected to the council in 1971.

Donald Snr was then succeeded by his son Donald Jnr on retiring at the 1995 election. He served as mayor for five one-year terms during the 1980s.

Donald Jnr said one of his father’s legacies on the council was one of his most controversial proposals — to change the council meeting times.

‘‘They used to start the meeting at about 10am or 11am and recess for lunch, then come back to chambers,’’ Donald Jnr recalled.

‘‘He said after lunch the councillors were almost falling asleep.

‘‘He would have also warded off at least one amalgamation in his time, in the mid-1980s.’’

Former Conargo Shire councillor Bernard Clancy credits his own professionalism in local government to Donald Snr’s guidance.

‘‘If I had any success as a Conargo councillor it would have been down to Donald,’’ Mr Clancy said.

‘‘He was very well respected and never created any enemies, but he was always precise in putting his point across. Donald was a gentleman and it was a pleasure to have been on council with him.

‘‘He always supported the environment — protecting trees and managing fire breaks so as not to disrupt young vegetation.

‘‘He taught me a lot about sitting and listening, and then making the right decision.’’

Donald Jnr says many of his fondest memories were related to their farming life at Blighty. But he said his father’s sporting interests also played a large role in the family’s lifestyle.

‘‘He was a tennis-a-holic. He would play at Mundiwa with Hunter Landale every Tuesday night and on Sundays. Dad also played in the Saturday comp. at Deni up until he was about 80. The junior tournament and the Easter tournament were a big part of his life. He was ably assisted by Terry Maher and Neville Munro.

‘‘His contribution to the Deniliquin Lawn Tennis Club included a stint as club president and his lifelong involvement resulted in him being awarded life membership of the tennis club.

‘‘He played footy for North Deniliquin in the then Edward River League in the late 1940s, the Deni Rams in the 1950s, and then coached at Blighty in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

‘‘He was also involved with the Deniliquin Racing Club, primarily as a judge, for longer than I can remember.

‘‘Dad also had a succession of slow racehorses over his lifetime.’’

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