Shane O’Leary a natural leader, a cheeky dad

Shane O’Leary’s unexpected death on November 22 saw an outpouring of grief and messages of gratitude for everything he has done in this community.

As economic development manager at the Bega Valley Shire Council and then more recently general manager of Destination Southern NSW, he was a man devoted to building up his community. But his commitment to lifting people up and making connections went much further.

With gracious thanks to his family in such a devastating situation, below are some more personal thoughts of their father Shane they were kind enough to share.

Shane O'Leary

Shane O'Leary

Dad was a dynamic, engaging effective communicator in is professional life. he made strong connections wherever he went. He was a police officer before moving in to sport and recreation, COO of the Deaflympics in Melbourne and CEO of the World Masters Games Sydney before moving to the Bega Valley.

He loved the big projects and his ability to see a big picture and engage and bring people together made him a born, natural leader. 

Dad easily adapted to his surroundings while in the Northern Territory. He loved long drives through the desert and bushwalking, but when he moved to Melbourne he quickly adapted to the cafe culture. In Sydney he discovered a love for the water and here loved riding his bike through dirt roads in the hills and valleys. He has always been a proactive and engaged member of the many communities of which he has been a part. 

He was passionate about the North Melbourne Football Club – one of my best memories of Dad was the day North Melbourne won the 1996 premiership, and his absolute delight that the club he followed since a kid won a premiership as an adult. He loved all sports, but especially AFL and cricket. 

He loved op shopping, fashion and fantastic boots. He has an amazing record collection – his favourite artists include Paul Kelly, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Herbie Mann, Bob Dylan, Stephen Cummings, Rolling Stones, Neu and The Beatles. He never missed an opportunity to engage us kids in his music taste. One collective best memory for us children was his absolute love for Paul Kelly and we have the best memories of listening to Paul Kelly with him – we are pretty sure we know just about every word to his songs. He had taken many of us to his concerts and had been to about 30 concerts of Paul Kelly’s himself.

Dad had a strong sense of social justice and was proactive and sympathetic with Indigenous culture and a love for Australian politics. He took time to teach us kids and explain the workings of political systems and what was right and wrong. He loved Australian history, was an avid reader and a talented wordsmith. 

He loved to take us kids on new adventures, both within Australia and overseas, travelling to Italy, the UK and Malaysia with some of his children. On these trips he loved learning about the places and trying new and lots of foods. 

He was often a cheeky, joker of a dad, tormenting us with his silly sense of humour and ongoing, relentless jokes. He fancied himself as a photographer and loved a selfie. He was always willing to impart wisdom and advice, odd facts stored in his amazing photographic memory. A born conversationalist and storyteller.

Dad’s death is heartbreaking, outwardly he was a very accomplished person, but inwardly he struggled to make all the pieces of his puzzle fit. 

- By Kate 33, Fletcher 30, Emmanuel 15, Ruben 13, Tuesday 12, Ginger 9, Rowley 7, Angelo 4, and partner Anita 

  • Due to the age of the children and circumstances of his death, there will be no funeral. There will be a private family memorial, we thank you for respecting our wishes. Notes of condolences can be sent to 1 Broad Street, Bemboka 2550. In lieu of flowers please send a living plant or make a donation to Lifeline. Thank you.

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