Former Albury mayor Arch McLeish farewelled by hundreds at funeral that hears of his life of service

Ashes to ashes: Reverend Christine Moimoi blesses Arch McLeish's coffin which was draped in a naval ensign and topped with his sailor's cap from HMAS Quickmatch. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
Ashes to ashes: Reverend Christine Moimoi blesses Arch McLeish's coffin which was draped in a naval ensign and topped with his sailor's cap from HMAS Quickmatch. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

AS a boy he wore an old sugar bag for a footy jumper and as a teen he went to fight Japan aboard a naval destroyer. 

Post World War II he built a trucking fleet and helped found the Rotary Club of Albury North.

But that was just a prelude to Arch McLeish’s 16 years on Albury Council which included him serving as mayor from 1992 to 1994.

On Thursday hundreds gathered at Albury’s St Matthew’s Anglican Church to mourn Mr McLeish, following his death on August 3 aged 90.

Nephew Peter McLeish told of a boy who grew up at Walbundrie as one of three sons in an era when students rode horses to school.

Club man: Rotary Club of Albury North members formed a guard of honour as Arch McLeish's coffin was brought from the church to the sounds of lone piper Lily Turner, a Scots School student.

Club man: Rotary Club of Albury North members formed a guard of honour as Arch McLeish's coffin was brought from the church to the sounds of lone piper Lily Turner, a Scots School student.

He said his uncle told him his dad once “came home with boxing gloves and said there will be Catholics and Germans at school, so you boys better learn to fight”.

At the age of 18, Arch McLeish was facing a declared enemy – as a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy he took three trips to Japan.

Another nephew Ian McLeish reflected on his uncle’s transport business which went from a lone truck to 30 employees, 14 prime movers and 20 trailers by the time it was sold in 1989.

“He was not only a role model, he was an inspiration,” Mr McLeish said after describing his uncle’s council service as a “phenomenal contribution” to Albury.

Daughter Erris Carr told of her parents meeting at a dance in 1949 before marrying at Corowa in 1954.

Mr McLeish’s wife Margaret died in 2015 and he said then he just needed another couple of years of life.

Goodbye: Arch McLeish's daughter Erris Carr and her children watch as the hearse is prepared to leave the grounds of St Matthew's church.

Goodbye: Arch McLeish's daughter Erris Carr and her children watch as the hearse is prepared to leave the grounds of St Matthew's church.

“He was truly a very special man, a wonderful dad and father-in-law and a proud grandfather who will be sadly missed by us all,” Ms Carr said. 

Uniting Church minister Christine Moimoi, who conducted the service, said Mr McLeish labelled himself as a “non-practising Christian” but “lived a life that could only be said to be Christian in the best possible sense”.

Well regarded: Arch McLeish has been remembered for his wide contribution to civic and commercial life in Albury.

Well regarded: Arch McLeish has been remembered for his wide contribution to civic and commercial life in Albury.

“He was a good man, not a wimp, but somebody that was worth knowing, somebody that was worth working for and with – somebody that even though he knew the end was coming, embraced it without fear,” Reverend Moimoi said.

Mourners included Albury mayor Kevin Mack, councillors David Thurley, Graham Docksey, Alice Glachan and Albury MLA Greg Aplin.