Tributes for a man of the people
THE tributes were as big as the man himself as a crowd of more than 2000 people packed the Lockyer Valley Sports and Aquatic Centre to farewell Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones yesterday.
Despite sweltering heat, well-wishers smiled, laughed and cried as family members and dignitaries, including Dame Quentin Bryce, Sydney radio personality Alan Jones as well as Deputy Mayor Tanya Milligan and colleague Jamie Simmonds shared stories and memories of Cr Jones.
The huge crowd featured a smattering of uniforms as schools, SES, Rural Fire Brigade, police, ambulance and others gathered to pay their final respects.
Cr Milligan led off the tributes, recounting how Cr Jones would joke with her while she underwent chemotherapy that he had more hair, however she would respond by pointing out her hair would at least grow back.
"I joked with Steve about putting the big girl's pants on and taking one for the team, well, this is it," Cr Milligan said.
"In 2011, we looked for leadership and strength, and we got that from Steve."
Talking about the success of the Grantham land swap, Cr Milligan said the project, which should have taken 'three years', was 'completed in four months under Steve'.
Cr Milligan spoke of the annual 'leadership camp' with Cr Jones, where members of the youth council visited Canberra.
"He had a genuine desire for young people, he would help drive the bus, and would also share stories and experiences with the kids."
Pastor Andrew Otte said he respected Cr Jones, particularly after the 2011 floods, when he worked to assist devastated communities.
"He genuinely cared and genuinely serviced this community, my respect for him rose to the maximum during those days," Pastor Otte said.
Former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce said she was 'touched' by the invitation to speak at Cr Jones funeral, and described him as a 'beacon of hope and reassurance' to residents during and after the 2011 floods.
Alan Jones, prominent Sydney radio host, likened interviewing Cr Jones to 'interviewing a Category 5 cyclone'.
"He made you want to have a beer with him," Mr Jones said.
"His speech was punctuated with words like 'no worries mate', 'she'll be right mate', I think he used the word mate more than anyone I have ever met, and the only difference was with Steve it was completely genuine."
Mr Jones said 'a nation loses its sense of direction when it forgets to carry a moral compass in its hand'.
"Steve Jones was his own brand of moral compass, he touched our lives and gave us direction, reminded us about who we were, about hidden potential that lives inside all of us."
Referring to the death of British politician and statesman Lloyd George, Mr Jones said for those who barely knew him his death was the passing of a statesman but for those who knew him well it was like a giant oak tree crashing in the forest.
"A week ago, a giant oak tree crashed in the forest of the Lockyer Valley and the nation."
Jamie Simmonds, an LVRC strategy adviser, said he struck up an 'unusual' friendship with Cr Jones.
Referring to the fictitious NY Times bestselling book, 'A Beginners Guide To Working With Steve Jones; written by Jamie Simmonds', he said there three simple rules.
"The first rule says simple and direct communication is always best when working with Steve Jones, the second rule states always expect the unexpected when working with Steve Jones.
"The third rule in the book states simply, 'truth matters' and it always did for Steve."
His sons and daughter-in-law Stacey Ebert also shared their memories, Ms Ebert said he was reported as a 'great leader' and a 'mate' but very few people knew the family man.
"Steve lived well beyond his years," Ms Ebert said.