Many in Bundaberg are remembering former Mayor Allan Stewart as a great man who achieved much for the city.
Allan passed away last Thursday on the Sunshine Coast, surrounded by his loving family.
Colin Webber, who has been a friend of Allan’s for almost 50 years, said he was referred to as Big Al, Big Red or Mr Bundaberg.
“Allan was the mover and shaker for many projects in Bundaberg and was an ardent promoter of the city of which he was so proud.
“His car number plate was BUNDY 1.”
Allan's hard work paid off
Allan Stewart was a successful businessman, starting a carrying business in 1957.
Through back-breaking work he and his wife Margaret built the business up to six trucks, while also taking on the Chesney caravan franchise.
That led to being offered the Mazda car franchise.
From a standing start, using the caravan yard, he sold 153 Mazda sedans and 251 used cars in the first 12 months.
Within two years he had also taken over the General Motors dealership in Bundaberg, followed by Mitsubishi, Volvo, Mercedes Benz and even boats.
Through his successful business and community involvement he was often urged to run for Council, according to his daughter Karen Latham.
“Over the years, there had been many petitions from public and prominent people in the city for Allan to enter Local Government,” Karen said.
“His response was always that he was too busy, not only in his businesses but also in public service around town.”
However, while reading the bible one morning with his wife Margaret everything changed.
“Early this particular morning Dad had told our Mum that he definitely would not be standing as he was too busy to be on the council.
“It just so happened that the devotional reading for that morning was Proverbs 31: ‘And her husband who was well known, will sit on the town council with the other civic leaders.’
“Mum’s response to Dad was ‘What decision were you going to make today?’
“This reading was to change the course of their lives.”
Record number of votes at 1982 election
At the election in 1982 there were 19 nominations to stand for 8 positions on Council.
“With barely a month before the elections, and very little advertising, and no “how to vote” handout cards, he was shocked when the election concluded with an all-time record number of votes in the history of the city.
“This then made him the Deputy Mayor in his first term of council.”
Mayor Cliff Nielsen passed away on 16 October 1984 and a week later Allan Stewart became Mayor.
He then successfully ran for Mayor at the next Council elections in 1985.
Allan’s daughter Karen said her father will be remembered for many achievements.
“During his two terms of office he successfully completed the aspirations he had for the city including building the Botanic Gardens and the terminal at the Bundaberg Airport.
“It was during his time as Mayor the council purchased the Crest Cinema and turned it into a 800 seat performing arts centre now known as Moncrieff Entertainment Centre.
“Land for a new Library was purchased and the City Council Chambers were upgraded which included introducing computers to operate the council affairs, as well as securing government grants for lots of other infrastructure around town.
“Allan also introduced a Council Chaplain to open each council meeting with prayer and a bible reading, which is something that is still operating today.”
Allan completed all he set out to achieve
At the end of his second term, having completed all that he had set out to achieve, Allan did not again stand for Council.
“As Dad retired from the Council and disposed of his business interests, they entered a new phase in their lives by moving to the Sunshine Coast where they lived for the remainder of their lives.
“This allowed them to finally enjoy some quality time together, be more involved in serving in this church, offering hospitality and encouragement to the folk who dropped in to have a cuppa with them.
“It also allowed them to spend more time with family and their 13 grandchildren.”
Allan Stewart will be farewelled at a service at Maroochydore at 11am on Friday.
Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, only limited numbers will be allowed into the service.
However, no doubt guided by Allan’s problem solving skills, the service will be live-streamed.
Anyone wishing to watch the live stream can click here at 11am, using the PIN number 7034.
- Bundaberg history news