Mildura Weekly : Friday April 11 2014 Vol 8 No 23
www.milduraweekly.com.au 14 Mildura Weekly – 11/04/14 MILDURA has lost a valued friend, successful and highly- respected businessman and community service volunteer with the recent death of Brian Gambetta at the age of 84. The quietly-spoken for- mer pharmacist wasn’t just a good businessman, he was a tireless and innovative for- ward thinker for service clubs like Jaycees and Rotary, service that saw him honoured with a prestigious Paul Harris Fel- lowship in 1988. Honouring the charter member of Irymple Rotary, fellow Rotarian and friend John Fitzgibbon, in his eu- logy, echoed the thoughts of many when he said the world was a better place because of the contribution made by Bri- an Gambetta, and he would be sorely missed. He told a packed North West Funerals chapel that charter members of Rotary are held in high esteem as special people who had the vision, the plans and a deep commit- ment to serve. In Brian’s case, this went all the way back to 1971. “Brian was a quiet and un- assuming member of the club, admired as a true gentleman of Rotary, and a gentle man in the truest sense of the word,” John said. “It was an unwise person who was taken in by this calm exterior. Everyone quickly learnt to recognise a twinkle in his eye that would soon lead to the most impish misbehaviour, or the demon- stration of a keen and witty sense of humour.” Brian’s interest and com- mitment to serve the Mildura community began in 1957 when he joined Mildura Jay- cees, where he served with distinction at both local and State level, a trait he con- tinued later in life with Ro- tary, even more so after being elected Irymple club president in 1977. As John said in his eulogy, there were immediate chang- es to the way meetings were held, not the least of which was the welcome decision for Rotarians to be able to enjoy a beer or a glass of red with their meal, without detracting from the dignity of the meet- ing. Throughout his years in Rotary, Brian had often made mention of the solid support he had always received from his wife, the late Kaye Gam- betta, a long-time city councillor and former Mayor of the city. John told how Brian Gambetta was someone who always led by ex- ample, and was a mentor to the younger and less experienced members of Rotary. “He was a con- stant source of inspiration,” John said. He recalled the time he was installed as club presi- dent, having trouble getting his thoughts and ideas across to some older and more en- trenched members. Brian’s advice was simple; “John,” he said. “Tell them what you want to do. Ask them how to do it. Then just do it your way anyhow!” A lasting legacy of the Gambetta years is the Rotary youth exchange program. As John said, Brian Gambetta promoted and participated at all levels of the international program, and was host to several young people. Many of these stayed in touch with Brian - and the club - in later years. Brian was a counsellor for several students visiting from overseas, as well as sev- eral students from Australia studying overseas. He was also a member of the State organ- ising group for the Rotary Stu- dent Exchange program. Another club past presi- dent, fellow Irymple charter member and long-time friend of Brian’s, Wes Mills, spoke of Brian’s deep commitment and love of his job, the service club, family and friends, and said there was just a hint of larrikinism back in the early days. “There was one time he was driving up Deakin Avenue in his father’s ute with such a large number of kids in the back that the front wheels lost traction when they went over a bump,” he said. “But when it came to Ro- tary, Brian was deeply com- mitted,” Wes said. “Under his leadership our club increased membership to 53, a suc- cess story that necessitated a move to bigger premises... in this case the Mildura Setts. It was a popular move...not only were the meals cheaper (at $3.50 each), but we were given a choice of two soups, three main courses and two sweets... plus bottomless cof- fee!” It was also under Brian’s guidance that the club win several Rotary awards, includ- ing best presented project and best bulletin of the year. Brian also led successful overseas projects, especially after being told by a young Columbian exchange student that his to- tal annual family income was $44 a month, and the average life expectancy in his village, Tumaco, was just 45! Brian also helped set up the Rotary Club of South Mil- dura, and a Rotaract Club at Irymple. “Brian was one of nature’s true gentlemen, and someone with a wonderful sense of hu- mour,” Wes said. “He loved a drop of red, and was renowned for host- ing superbly cooked dinner parties! He was a very kind and steadfast man, who al- ways showed consideration and concern for others.” The funeral service for Brian last Wednesday was fol- lowed by a private cremation at Coomealla Memorial Gar- dens. • From Page 12 Garry moved to the Robinvale area six years ago after getting a job with the almond giant Select Har- vests, but had to give up work after suffering a few work-related injuries caused by heavy lifting and other heavy physical tasks. He still has to have physio for shoulder problems, and last week underwent surgery in Melbourne for elbow pain that had been troubling him for years. “The surgeon found that a small growth, a ganglion, had been pushing on a nerve,” he said. “It could have been fixed years ago, but nothing showed up on X-rays. The doctors are confident it’s been fixed, so it will be great to get full use of my arm again.” Garry says that thankfully, his injuries haven’t prevented him from exercising. He walks every day, is part of the Mallee District Aboriginal Ser- vices Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, Macqua Aqua Aerobics and Pilates programs, and recently completed a group 34-kilometre walk from Wen- tworth to Mildura to raise money for The Kidneys for Kids Foundation. “I covered the distance in five hours, eight seconds,” Garry says proudly. Before that, his longest trek was 24 kilometres...and took a whole day! Garry made the move to Mildura for a fresh start two years ago, and through the health clinic got linked to the cardiac program, then the MDAS gym in Pine Avenue, and says he has been feeling better and better each day. “I’m involved in my community more, and love that when you are out and about exercising, people are so friendly,” he says. “And the support I get from the MDAS community is great. The Boot Camp is pretty spe- cial.” Garry says the future is looking a lot brighter these days. He is hoping to get back into the darts scene, has plans to give talks to at-risk young- sters in the community, do more travel within Australia and overseas, and is keen to get back into the work- force. He joined a local Christian church group after an absence of 40 years, and says he is meeting a lot more interesting people, and making new friends. “I am hoping for a big year,” the affable 61-year-old said. “My kidneys are slowly improving, I’ve got some trips planned, my injuries are improv- ing...there’s a new lady in my life... and you never know...the Bombers might be on the way back in the AFL!” The best years are yet to come for Garry OBITUARY Brian Gambetta 1929 – 2014 Rotary loses a valued friend • A MAN AMONG MEN: The late Brian Gambetta, ABOVE, as many would remember him. RIGHT - helping wife Kaye host a Civic Reception for visiting exchange students in 1972, RIGHT - with Kaye before an official ball, and later in life, pictured with lifelong friend Yvonne Mills.
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