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ALBURY’S favourite World War II veteran Wally Moras has been celebrated as “the quintessential Australian” who “radiated happiness”.
The tributes, which also included the Kokoda Track soldier being described as a “legend”, were made after Mr Moras died early yesterday at his North Albury home of more than 50 years.
The great-grandfather suffered a heart attack.
He celebrated his 90th birthday with a party at the Albury Club in May.
Mr Moras’ death follows the loss of Albury comrade Jack Sheridan, who died in October. He had served in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II.
The pair, who shared a jeep for this year’s Anzac Day parade in Dean Street, were regular participants since 1947.
Albury RSL sub-branch president Colin Darts described Mr Moras as the face of Anzac Day.
“Another legend is gone,” Mr Darts said.
“It’s a really sad loss to the community, the Albury community, it’s going to be a big hole to fill because we relied on him so often.
“His was a face everyone recognised.
“He was a walking historian. His mind was still active and the stories he told and exploits he described were very factual and accurate. They will be sadly missed.”
Catholic priest Father Kevin Flanagan said his friend “just loved people”, recalling how, during a spreading of the peace at a service, he kissed those women around him, including stunned nuns.
“I would say Wally was the quintessential Australian,” Fr Flanagan said of the man who lived across the road from his Mate Street church.
“He was hard working, embraced life and had a great interest in people.
“He had a great sense of camaraderie. If there was a party, he was the first one there and the last one off the floor. He radiated happiness.”
Mr Moras was born at Corowa on May 25, 1922.
He met his future wife, Vera, at a dance at Oaklands in 1938, when she was 14 and he was 16.
With the outbreak of World War II, Mr Moras joined the 8th Light Horse Regiment and fought the Japanese along the Kokoda Track in New Guinea.
Returning to Albury, Mr Moras married Vera at St Matthew’s Church in 1945. They had four children, Kay Meredith, Janet Troselj, Sue Kirk and Craig Moras.
Craig Moras yesterday described his father as a great family man who thought he was a “millionaire several times over with the children and grandchildren he had”.
Mrs Kirk said her father, whose jobs included waitering at the Commercial Club, drain digging and crane driving, had a sunny personality.
“He didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody and he was always smiling,” she said.
Mr Moras’ wife died in April 2010 and he is survived by his four children, 11 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
A funeral service is expected to be held at
St Matthew’s Church next week.