Parliament pays tribute to Spiro, a local legend
CLARENCE Valley icon and co-owner of the Saraton Theatre, Spiro Notaras, has been paid a heartfelt tribute in New South Wales Parliament following his death last month.
The son of Greek immigrants who settled in the region in the early 1900s, Mr Notaras was a passionate member of the Grafton community until the very end.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis told how Mr Notaras's father and uncle bought a timber mill at Lawrence in 1952, beginning an enduring family involvement with the North Coast timber industry.
"Most of the workers at the mill have been with Spiro for many years," Mr Gulaptis said.
"A quarter of the staff have worked at the mill for more than 25 years. Spiro reciprocated this loyalty.
"At 83 he did not need to run a timber mill, but he did so because he loved the industry and he wanted to ensure that his workers had jobs in the Clarence Valley."
Mr Gulaptis spoke of Mr Notaras's horror when he heard Labor's plan at the last election to, if elected, create a koala national park covering much of the North Coast.
"He was like the drover's dog, following the Labor candidate at every candidates' meeting across the electorate questioning him on the merits of this policy and how Labor would save the industry and save jobs in regional NSW," he said.
The other great triumph in Mr Notaras's life was his involvement with Grafton's Saraton Theatre, built by his father and uncle in 1926. Mr Notaras and his cousin Angelo, along with other family members, took it upon themselves in 2008 to restore the theatre.
Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser told how Mr Notaras worked as a projectionist before entering the family timber business.
"Spiro Notaras represented the embodiment of an ideal Australian citizen," Mr Fraser said.
"From humble beginnings, he rose to be a respected and valued member of his local community."
Mr Notaras died at the age of 83 on January 9 after a stroke. He was posthumously awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia on Australia Day.