The coffin of Don Day is carried from the Anglican Church in Maclean.
The coffin of Don Day is carried from the Anglican Church in Maclean.

Moving farewell to Don Day

HE may have been a “warrior politician”, a successful businessman, serviceman and a wonderful family man but there was one concession at Don Day’s funeral yesterday; he was no diplomat.

The man who took Don Day’s agriculture portfolio in the Wran Labor Government in the 1980s, Jack Hallam, said Mr Day was successful in everything he attempted, but if he chose diplomacy he would have failed.

“We all value his energy and the powerful commitment to the people of this region,” Mr Hallam said.

Some of the strongest tributes to Mr Day came from his grandchildren who, one-by-one, addressed the congregation.

“He taught us about animals and to be kind. His natural instinct was to help other people. Grandpa, we love you,” one said.

“You taught us to fight for what you believe in, to pick your battles but to fight to win, to challenge popular opinion,” another said.

Mourners were told Don Day was born into poverty in the 1920s.

“He talked of his embarrassment about his patched clothes and when he was called to the front of the school assembly to receive pencils and books from a charity,” daughter Jenny said.

“These experiences shaped his life and helped form his attitude towards people who were in need.”

Son Bill explained a career in pharmacy was cut short when Don, in his teens, mistakenly tipped floor polish into a huge container of cough mixture.

“Nobody had previously thought a polished throat would be less likely to cough,” he said.

Mr Day became an apprentice fitter and turner, joined the armed services on his second attempt after first trying when too young, started an engineering degree after the war but gave that up to earn enough to provide for his wife and young family.

He bought Maclean Motors in the early 1950s and turned it into a successful business, at one point employing 22 people. At that time he threw himself into community activities; the Maclean Hospital Board, Lower Clarence County Council, Rotary, the Maclean Chamber of Commerce and the Maclean shire and municipal councils.

In 1971 he was elected the member for the seat of Casino.

When in politics he fought side-by-side with his former opponents to improve opportunities for the rural sector.

Among those attending were two former NSW government ministers, Jack Hallam and Ian Causley, Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell and four Clarence Valley councillors.

“Nobody dies until they are no longer remembered. Dad will live for years to come,” Bill said.

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