Former Rockhampton mayor Jim Webber battling cancer

Historic: Politicians Former Rockhampton Mayor Jim Webber. Photo: Morning Bulletin Archives
Historic: Politicians Former Rockhampton Mayor Jim Webber. Photo: Morning Bulletin Archives Morning Bulletin Archives

JIM Webber has a fight on his hands.

And fight is exactly what the Rockhampton statesman intends to do after last week being diagnosed with lymphoma on the brain.

The former mayor of Rockhampton is in the Holy Spirit Northside Private Hospital in Brisbane, waiting to undergo his first round of chemotherapy.

But tolerating the treatment will be a battle in itself.

Jim, 73, has an enlarged heart, which means it is functioning at only 30%.

His son Doug yesterday explained that the chemo could have drastic consequences but his father was determined to try everything possible.

"He and mum had the round table meeting and dad wants to fight it," Doug said.

"He's been told all the worst case scenarios and the side effects but he is still choosing to fight. That is exactly what I would expect dad to do.

"He will always go the extra mile. He has always been like that."

And that is something to which the Rockhampton community can attest.

A long-serving alderman and mayor, he fought for the rights of his constituents, establishing a reputation as a fair and honest politician.

The same traits saw Webbers become a household name as the electrical retail store he opened in 1968 with his brother Col thrived and continues today as one of the region's business success stories.

Doug said his father was passionate about Rockhampton and he would love the community to rally around Jim in his hour of need.

"Dad loves Rockhampton, he loves the people of Rockhampton.

"I would love to be able to take some messages of support down to him and say, 'Hey dad, Rocky is backing you, the people are behind you'."

Doug said support from the city he held so dear would help bolster Jim as he dug in for the fight of his life.

Jim served three terms as mayor and more than 20 years as alderman/councillor. He stepped down from local government representation in 2008.

During his mayoral reign, he oversaw the creation of Kershaw Gardens and the opening of the million-dollar Music Bowl.

He was serving as a councillor when he had his first brush with cancer in 1998. A cancerous lymph node on his bowel was surgically removed.

Six months of chemotherapy saw him lose all his hair.

Doug fondly remembers how his dad looked like television star Kojak, played by Telly Savalas.

He also remembers how Jim's hair grew back, striking silver-white.

Jim went on to enjoy years of good health up until January this year when things took a downward turn.

He had remained actively involved in the business and was still doing deliveries at Christmas last year.

Doug said symptoms started to appear that the family soon realised were something sinister.

"His whole body hasn't got an ounce of cancer in it but apparently it has been lying dormant in his brain since that first diagnosis," he said.

"The doctors have said it is very rare but it also responds well to treatment. We are just praying that his heart can hold up."

If a positive attitude is half the battle, then Doug is confident his father will see positive results.

He is impressing his treating specialists with his determination and drive.

When the physiotherapist asks Jim to do 10 leg raises, he'll do 15.

Doug will head to Brisbane again on Sunday to see his dad.

Stella, Jim's wife of 52 years, has been by his side since he arrived in Brisbane.


1961: Moved to Rockhampton from Mackay

1962: Married his sweetheart Stella Gray and had four children - Roxanne, Narelle and twins Doug and Helen

1968: With brother Col, opened electrical retail store Webbers in North Rockhampton

1970: Elected alderman on Rockhampton council, aged 29

1982: Led the Australian Labor Party to victory in the local government elections. Won the mayoralty in a landslide from Rex Pilbeam, who had been mayor for 30 years

1991: Served final year as Rockhampton mayor

1997: Served another 11 years as councillor, the last four to 2008 as deputy mayor

1992: Made son Doug part-owner in Webbers Retravision

1998: Cancerous lymph node surgically removed from bowel; six months of chemotherapy

2014: Diagnosed with lymphoma on the brain

Topics:  brain cancer jim webber lymphoma rockhampton regional council

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