Touching honour for adored Gracemere couple
THESE days, not many people can wander through their hometown and claim to have a hand in creating its history. But one Gracemere man and his beloved wife most certainly can.
The names Don and Dianne Close are widely known throughout their community, thanks to their dedicated efforts in helping their neighbours wherever they can.
It is this same community that hopes to see both Mr and Mrs Close have another piece of history credited to their names – this time, with Gracemere’s new 43-metre pedestrian bridge named after them.
The heart-warming gesture comes after Rockhampton Regional Council went to the community for naming ideas for Cedric Archer Park’s new bridge late last year, where results brought an overwhelming vote in favour of the couple.
Though Mr Close is not sure his own efforts merit the recognition, he was extremely grateful for the honour and that his wife, who passed away in 2017, would be thrilled.
“I can’t imagine anything Dianne didn’t get involved with. She was very well-loved by the community,” he said.
“The recognition for my wife is just wonderful, she really deserves it.”
The couple first moved to Gracemere from Rockhampton 42 years ago, seeking a quieter life and tight-knit community feel. They loved it so much that when they did eventually move, it was only to the other side of their street.
“I’ve always been happy living in Gracemere; I’ve always loved it and felt safe here,” Mr Close said.
“Gracemere is a beautiful place to live and it’s just getting better all the time.”
After their move to the area, community spirit quickly turned into a desire to help those within it, with each of them soon volunteering to work alongside various local causes.
Mr Close went on to serve as Mayor of Fitzroy Shire for 18 years, and at the same time establish his own construction business.
Though his plate was already full, the grandfather of 10 would even donate his labour, time and machinery to schools, clubs and even the church which he and Mrs Close were part of.
Mrs Close was not to be outdone by her husband, dedicating her own time to act as a long-serving member of Gracemere Community Voice and Neighbourhood watch.
Divisional councillor Ellen Smith also reiterated the wider community’s sentiment, saying Don and Dianne deserved the recognition as true community champions.
“It’s hard to cover all of the fantastic things the Closes have done. There are many community buildings in Gracemere that the Closes helped to build and renovate,” she said.
“Naming the bridge after them seems a fitting way to honour their hard work and legacy.”
While Mr Close is nearing retirement, he is certainly not showing any signs of slowing down.
As an active member of the Gracemere Croquet Club, his next charitable act will see the club host a charity day where proceeds will be donated towards bushfire recovery efforts.
“I don’t do it for the recognition, I do it because I want to do it. If I can give, I will,” he said.