Former Sutherland Shire Council public affairs manager Joan Thompson dies at 90

Tributes have been paid to Joan Thompson, who played a leading role in establishing and nurturing Sutherland Shire's sister city relationships with Lakewood in the US and Chuo in Japan.

The council's former public affairs manager also organised the shire's first mayoral ball, which has continued for 43 years, set up the structure for citizenship ceremonies, which was followed by other councils, and worked closely with community and service clubs.

Ms Thompson died on August 29, a day before her 91st birthday.

At her request, there was no funeral, and a private memorial was held by the family.

The council expressed its condolences to Ms Thompson's family at Monday night's meeting following a mayoral minute by Cr Carmelo Pesce.

Cr Pesce said Ms Thompson worked for council from the late 1970s until her retirement in 1995.

"Joan was well respected not only among our own staff but by many others throughout local government and the Sutherland Shire community," he said.

"During her time with council, her role evolved from that of a single position to the manager of a public relations team responsible for media, civic events, publications, public relations, sister cities and more.

"Joan worked closely with the shire presidents / mayors and councillors of the day, and was responsible for countless civic events including mayoral receptions, official openings, Australian citizenship ceremonies, the employee recognition dinner, and the mayoral ball, to name just a few.

"All media inquiries and releases were managed via her office, as were official speeches, and the writing and publication of numerous books and pamphlets.

"Joan was instrumental in the formation and growth of council's sister city relationships - Lakewood, USA and Chuo, Japan, as well as the former sister city relationship with Jawoyn, Northern Territory, and informal relationships with Bangor, Wales and Sutherland, Scotland."

Cr Carol Provan, who was first elected to the council in 1983, said Ms Thompson was appointed public relations manager by shire clerk Athol Hill and president Kevin Skinner.

"She was the council's first PR manager and the first in Australian local government," Cr Provan said.

"She helped many other councils set up PR managers."

Cr Provan said the success of the shire's sister city relationships, including a gift from the Japanese of the Chuo City Garden in Peace Park, Sutherland, was largely due to Ms Thompson's work.

She had studied Japaneses to ensure the right protocols were observed in dealings with Chuo City officials.

Cr Provan said Ms Thompson's knowledge and experience led to her being elected secretary of the the Australian Sister Cities Association.

"Joan had great connections with the community and service clubs, in particular the volunteer bush fire fighters," she said.

"When a bushfire occurred, she would camp for days at the fire control centre and update media.

"On a number of occasions, when we tragically lost firefighters, she would be the first to look after the welfare of families."

Cr Provan said Ms Thompson was "a stickler for protocol, obliging, a great mentor to staff, very loyal to the mayor of the day, articulate and highly intelligent".

"She spent long hours ensuring perfection in what she and her unit did."

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