TRIBUTES TO A TIMBER PIONEER
By EMMA CORNFORD
BRINOS Notaras was one of 'nature's true gentlemen', defined by his overwhelming passion for the timber industry and a deep love for his family.
Family, friends and colleagues were yesterday coming to terms with the death of Mr Notaras, who died in hospital after a head-on collision with a semi-trailer on the Pacific Highway at Woolgoolga on Tuesday. Mr Notaras' dedication to the timber industry was revered by everyone who knew him. His brother and business partner of 53 years, Spiro, said the 75-year-old was the 'driving force' behind the J. Notaras & Sons timber mill in South Grafton.
"Every person who knew my brother would understand this ever-present drive for perfection, quality and honesty in everything he did," Spiro said yesterday.
"My brother will not only be greatly missed by his family and friends, but by all who understood his ever-present humour and loyalty to family, staff and the industry.
"Brinos will be sadly missed and cannot be replaced."
NSW Forest Products Association executive director Russell Ainley said he was 'shattered' by Mr Notaras' death ? a man he described as an 'eminent statesman' of the Australian timber industry.
"I knew him for 32 years. He was an amazing family man and inside that business exterior was a warm and compassionate fellow with a huge heart who was totally loyal to everyone he had dealings with," Mr Ainley said.
"His workers and his friends were all treated like family. He looked after his employees far better than any other business I've come across in the timber industry and recognised that his employees had helped get him along the way. For that he secured their loyalty."
Indeed, those who worked for Mr Notaras said his loyalty to both them and the industry was astounding.
Trevor Bailey, who has worked at the mill for the past 28 years, said Mr Notaras' dedication to his staff was incomparable, especially during the hard times when Brinos and his brother opted to keep their workers in jobs rather than taking the easy option and closing the mill.
"We are all missing him severely already. Morning tea will never be the same without Brinos and Spiro fighting like cats and dogs over the table while dunking scotch finger biscuits in their cups of tea," he said.
Donna Layton, who has worked at the mill for 27 years, said Mr Notaras' love for his family was immeasurable.
"The smile on his face as he spoke about his youngest granddaughter Molly was priceless," she said.
"Brinos was always outspoken on what he believed and treated his staff with respect and loyalty. Nothing gave him more pleasure to know that his employees were getting ahead (which) gave him great pleasure and satisfaction."
Friend of Mr Notaras and Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, lauded Mr Notaras' work in the timber industry.
"He was a hard-nosed advocate for the industry but he was respected by all in the industry and on both sides of politics. For this to happen so suddenly, it was a hell of a shock," Mr Fraser said.
"He was such a good bloke and it's something you can't encapsulate in words."
Mr Bailey perhaps best summed up the sentiments of those close to Mr Notaras.
"God speed, Brinos. You are one of nature's true gentlemen."