Don Carter, OAM, who gave a lifetime of service as a volunteer bushfire fighter and was a passionate advocate for the Menai area on Sutherland Shire Council, was farewelled on Wednesday after his death at 88.
Mr Carter was captain of the Menai brigade for 45 years (1967-2012) after he and his twin brother Len unofficially joined at the age of 10 alongside their father, a founder of the unit. The family were poultry farmers in the area.
Don Carter was deputy group captain between 1987 to 1997.
He served on Sutherland Shire Council from 1983-1995 and was president (mayor) in 1990/1991.
His achievements included leading the council in 1991 in forging a sister city arrangement with Chuo City in Tokyo, including a student exchange program, which continues.
Speaking in State Parliament, Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons, said, "Don gave up so much time to make such a difference".
"We have lost a giant of the Menai region, but Don's memory and love for helping people will live on," she said.
About 130 people attended Mr Carter's funeral at Woronora Memorial Park. Many others watched via livestream.
The ceremony included a procession led by a Menai fire tanker in which Mr Carter's helmet and jacket were laid on the front seat, followed by a piper, Rural Fire Service dignitaries, including former commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, and Menai brigade members.
A catafalque party stood over the coffin in the chapel.
Mr Carter's widow Claire was presented with a posthumous 70-years' service medal for her husband along with clasps for other medals.
Speakers included Mr Fitzsimmons, who now heads Resilience NSW, Rural Fire Service deputy commissioner Peter McKechnie and mayor Steve Simpson.
Mr Carter's son Wayne said it was a wonderful send-off.
"Dad would have loved it," he said.
In a tribute after Mr Carter's death on June 7, Menai Rural Fire Service said their former captain "played a critical role in many significant bush fire seasons, including 1957/58, 1968 and 1994".
"Don's knowledge, skills and expertise in bush firefighting and management has been exemplary," the brigade said.
"He has played an important role in shaping bush fire management in Sutherland Shire and more broadly across NSW.
"Don was a wonderful leader and mentor to so many and received many awards recognising his outstanding commitment to the community, including:
- Order of Australia Medal (OAM) - 2004
- Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) - 2004.
- Commissioner's Commendation for Bravery (1999)
- National Medal 4th Clasp (2005)
- NSW RFS Long Service Medal 60 years (2011)
"In addition to his active and selfless commitment protecting the community, Don played a significant role at various levels of the organisation, including training and being a member on various district and state committees.
"Outside of the organisation Don advocated on behalf of the Menai community in ensuring appropriate bush fire protection measures were incorporated in new sub-divisions around the Menai area during the '80s and early '90s.
"This community advocacy saw him elected as a councillor in 1983 representing the community for 12 years, becoming shire president in 1990/91."