Riverwood pioneer Fred Lord hailed as community leader

One of the founders of the Riverwood Legion Club Frederick Lord has passed away at the age of 96.

Popularly known as Freddo, Mr Lord was hailed as a strong character and much-respected member of the community.

As a World War II veteran, Mr Lord, along with another friend Bruce Rogers mortgaged their homes to raise enough money to start the Riverwood Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women's Club, which is now known as Club Rivers.

"This took strength, vison, determination and sheer guts with a complete belief that what you were attempted to do was right,"his son-in-law Dennis Johnston said in the eulogy given at Mr Lord's funeral at Woronora Memorial Park.

Mr Lord was born on September 21, 1923. He came from a caring working class family. But times were tough and he was not given his first pair of shoes at the age of 12 years.

Mr Lord met the love of his life, Gwen when he was aged 16 and she 15.

He served in the Citizen's Military Forces in 1942 and the Australian Imperial Forces until 1946.

He was in the 52nd Battalion serving in Dutch New Guinea where they were to secure and protect the airfield.

Mr Lord was just 18-years-of-age when he was offered a position as an officer within the Battalion but declined because he wanted to stay with his mates at the front.

He served his enlistment as a gunner and was awarded various Distinguished Service Medals.

When he returned home, he and Gwen married on October 20, 1945. Mr Lord turned his skills to carpentry and became an accomplished builder.

He purchased a block of land at Herne Bay, now known and Riverwood and built a small garage on the block which was to serve as their home until they completed the house.

They lived in the garage until the house was completed three years later. Mrs Lord was his apprentice-come-labourer on both projects.

They had three children Carol, John and Patricia. Mr Lord had a strong passion for sport, particularly cricket, and made sure he was involved in local community sporting groups.

It was about this time that he and Bruce Rogers mortgaged their homes to start the Riverwood Legion Club.

"The club that he started was to become known far and wide and is seen a mainstay of the surrounding community with millions of dollars and immeasurable assistance that the club has poured into the community since its inception," Mr Johnson said.

Mr Lord was elected president of the club in 1959, a position he held for 16 years.

Under his guidance the club went from strength-to-to strength with an auditorium and world class entertainment that raised the bar and set the benchmark for other clubs to try and reach.

Mr Lord held the club's Badge Number 1.

He excelled as a batsman and bowler in the local grade cricket, receiving many awards, one for three centuries in the one competition.

He moved to grade cricket where he captained his side in winning the Martin Shield.

He loved Rugby League, especially the Dragons and rarely missed a game.

Car racing was another passion and he and Gwen and their children started a local Redex car trial.

He received numerous awards for his volunteer work in the community including awards from Hurstville Council, Sutherland Hospital, St George Community Transport and Wires.

Gwen passed away in 2012. Mr Lord continued to be involved in community causes.

He lived life to the fullest.

"The Friday night before he passed he was taken to a gala ball at Rosehill Racecoure and when the music started he kep trying to get up to dance even though he couldn't stand up on his own anymore," Mr Johnson said.

"He still had the will and desire to join in."

A bus was named after Mr Lord with St George Community Transport and was awarded life membership with Wires Wildlife Rescue.

"He was a born leader, a visionary, compassionate, fair and a person you could trust with your life," Mr Johnson said.

"He took from this life things that were not right and made them right."