WODONGA’S last surviving mayor of the 1970s – a child migrant from Britain – has died at the age of 91.
Rex Chamberlain, who led the city from 1977 to 1980 and was a councillor from 1971 to 1985, died last Wednesday after a decline in health over the past year.
Fellow former councillor Les Boyes praised Mr Chamberlain as a straight-talker.
“He was an excellent councillor in his day,” Mr Boyes said.
“There was no-nonsense with him, he would call a spade a spade and when he got on to something he rode through on it.
“Rex had a few battles in council, some councillors tried to put the clamp on him a bit and he handed it back.”
Mr Chamberlain’s stint as mayor coincided with the Albury-Wodonga growth centre population goals being wound back, a situation he welcomed.
“We are not sorry that the plan has backfired,” he said in 1980.
“We did not want thousands of public servants pumped in here against their own wishes and they did not want to come.”
Mr Chamberlain himself came to Australia in 1938 after having been born in Cardiff, the second youngest of five children.
His father’s lack of work saw him become a child migrant, studying at a farm school near Melbourne before joining the defence force in World War II.
Mr Chamberlain spent more than a decade in the army, having met his wife Joyce when she was a typist at Bandiana.
They wed at Wodonga’s St Augustine’s church on January 21, 1950, had seven children and lived in the same home for more than 60 years.
After becoming a real estate agent, Mr Chamberlain was elected to council in 1971.
His time as mayor coincided with the decision to move the saleyards from the heart of the city to Bandiana.
Mr Chamberlain also gave long service to the Wodonga RSL sub-branch and was thrilled when he received life membership in 1987.
“This is the greatest honour I’ve had bestowed on me,” he told The Border Mail.
Mr Chamberlain also aided the Murray Valley Centre and Wodonga Sports Club.
His funeral is at St Augustine’s at 11am Wednesday.
Mr Chamberlain is survived by his wife, children, 20 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
He would call a spade a spade- Les Boyes on former mayor Rex Chamberlain
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