Hundreds farewell Jim McRae
IF SOME of the ties were a bit bright and colourful for such a sombre occasion, there was a good reason.
Male relatives of former Rockhampton mayor Jim McRae raided his famously expansive neckwear collection for his funeral as a mark of respect for his sense of style and humour.
Jim's brother Michael's explanation raised a chuckle on the packed pews inside St Joseph's Cathedral where hundreds of Jim's family, friends, political allies and adversaries and former colleagues gathered to say a final farewell yesterday morning.
Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten, Mayor Brad Carter, existing and former councillors were joined by business leaders and close friends at the requiem mass.
They heard tender tributes to the long-standing councillor and Rockhampton radio host who was mayor of the city for three years, 1997-2000.
Michael said one word summed up Jim – good.
He was the head of a close-knit, loving family and a strong community leader, but he was also a “behind-the-scenes” man who was involved in various charitable organisations throughout his life, volunteering his time and skills.
Former councillor Del Bunt said Jim held a very strong and passionate vision for the city.
“He was strong, honest and so, so fair, highly regarded and respected by his colleagues and the council's employees,” she said.
“His life has been cut far too short. We don't need monuments to remember this true gentleman who served the city with such affection.”
And Alison Moss, chief executive of the Benevolent Home for the Aged, which Jim assisted for 40 years, described him as a man of strong principles and integrity, full of optimism and ideas and able to find humour in most situations – even during the short illness which claimed his life.
He continued to work actively as chairman of the home to the end and had given her instructions on an important issue just 36 hours before he died, she said.
The majority of the service was conducted by Fr John Grace, with whom Jim had enjoyed a lasting friendship.
“Jim McRae was a genuinely good man,” he said, referring to Jim's “simple sincerity and pleasantness”.
“He held the interests of many at heart and died in the composure in which he lived.”
The final word went to Bishop Brian Heenan who said people clearly had such a deep affection for Jim that many would be asking themselves one question: “How can I be more like Jim?”
Although it was a public occasion, it was also very much a family one. His grandchildren placed a photograph of Jim wearing his mayoral chain of office on his coffin.
He was buried later in Rockhampton Memorial Gardens at a private family ceremony.
Born, Bundaberg 1944
Arrived in Rockhampton 1966
Wed Pat, 1970
Mayor of Rockhampton 1997-2000