By Rotarian Mark Buckingham

On December 16th, 2019 our club lost a very valued member and a lot of us lost a good friend.

Alf Barbagallo was one of very few Rotarians that reach fifty years’ membership. That’s 50 years of service to a community he loved and wanted to help build to be stronger.

Alf was an extraordinary man. He may have been small in stature, but he had a big life…and a big part of that was Rotary. Our club runs many fundraisers throughout the year and Alf was always a part of it, adding his strength to our work. For over 50 years, he turned up and volunteered his time and his good humour. A president of our club on more than one occasion and he was also a Paul Harris Fellow.

A Paul Harris Fellow is awarded to Rotarians and others that have shown that they are prepared to go that extra mile in support of people in need. It is an acknowledgement of our appreciation for tangible and significant assistance given by the recipient. These awards have been presented to many outstanding people in the community, “ordinary people doing extraordinary things“. Alf didn’t do this alone either. His late wife Pat was also part of our club, lending her support as well. Some years ago, Alf and Pat lost one of their children, Fred, to pancreatic cancer. Naturally this hit them both and Fred’s brother and sister very hard, but they turned this tragedy into a positive, by creating a foundation in Fred’s name. Again, Rotary was part of this and along with Australian Rotary Health, contributed funds for a scholarship. This has enabled some of our community’s greatest minds to make inroads into the prevention and possible cure for this awful disease. Minds such as Dr Zaklina Kovacevic – who’s research has contributed to the development of the new cancer chemotherapeutic, DpC, which is set to enter clinical trials soon.

Conversations with Alf at our meetings were never inconsequential. Alf always spoke about what was important to the club – the needs of the community – and he represented the community well. And there were some very special things that he brought to our club…. The bacon on the BBQ needs to be cooked in a certain way…whoever was on the tools needed to understand that… otherwise they’d find the tools were taken away. He had a wickedly keen sense of humour that endeared him to all of us that worked with him.

Over the past few years, we have lost quite a few members… in fact our club is now feeling more like a sub branch, with the main one now sitting in heaven… now an even better place for their presence. It’s never easy saying goodbye.

Alf leaves us and our club richer for having had him as a member, and we owe him a great debt for helping it to become such a great club in the first place. Whilst we will miss both him and his contribution, we are not weakened…rather we are strengthened for having his great example to live up to. So Alf we are glad that we have made great memories together.

We will miss your unique cooking regime, your dry wit, and your loving and caring nature…but most of all we will just miss you.

Rest in peace mate.