It is with great sadness that I rise to speak of a remarkable and inspirational man, Keith Wilson — ‘Willo’ — who passed away in Portland on 6 August at the age of 81.
Willo was born in Portland, Victoria, a township and community that he put his heart and soul into throughout his entire life.
At 15, Willo commenced work as an apprentice carpenter working for local businesses. However, in 1959 he was encouraged to apply for a woodwork teaching position at Portland High School, which is a job he held until his retirement in 1993.
Willo’s strong and untiring desire to help those who needed help and to get involved in the community made him the significant person he was, and always will be, in Portland.
To list the lengthy rollcall of significant achievements and positions Willo held over his life would be impossible in the short time I have this morning.
However, the fact that more than 14 clubs and associations, including the Australian Labor Party, awarded him life membership goes some way to indicating his commitment to the Portland community. He was committed to the notion of a fair go for all and that those at the big end of town could look after themselves.
Willo was elected mayor of Portland twice, in 1973 through to 1975 and 1988 to 1989, and he served as a councillor for over a decade. He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1986, but the 2008 Glenelg Shire Citizen of the Year award was his most prized award and another example of what Portland meant to him.
He was committed to his family. He had been married to Beverley since 1955. He was the father of four children, including Cr Gilbert Wilson, and had 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was what the priest called a very, very good townsman, and we miss him deeply. Vale, Keith Wilson.