Born in Moruya in July 1923 Ron Chesher was a true Moruyaite will see his legacy long remain for he became part of the very fabric that makes Moruya the town it is today.
Ron died peacefully on October 16th after a lifetime of immersing himself into his hometown and community and he wouldn’t have had it any other way as he was passionate for his community and for the potential he saw at every turn.
Ron, also known by many as Mr Big was awarded his OAM on 26 January 1988 by the Governor General of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen for service to veterans, to surf life saving and to the community.
The description of for service to surf life saving, veterans and to the community covered just the tip of the iceberg of Ron’s civic accomplishments.
Of Ron's commitment to Surf lifesaving Max Hogno, a Life Member of the Moruya Surf Club, writes:
On 25 November, 1946 the Moruya Surf Club records surfaced when moves were made to become an active club once again. Charles de Saxe was elected President, the position he held when the club went into recess. Garney Chewying became Treasurer, a position he held until 1985.
At the same meeting a young returned serviceman, Ron Chesher began a distinguished career in surf life saving and service to his fellow man; in 1947 he became Club President, stepping down the following year to become Club Captain.
In 1949, he was again elected President,staying on to complete a total of 26 years at the helm of the Club. He was instrumental in the erection of the Club's second club-house, on the dune in front of the existing building in the fifties.
In 1975 a young Bert Hunt became President and, with two able lieutenants in Colin Chesher and Peter Knight, the present club building became a reality, officially opened in 1978.
Moruya officials lay claim to being instrumental in the admission of female life savers into the movement, lobbying Branch officials in the early eighties, to make representations to the State and National bodies - it took some time, but it did happen.
In their memorial piece Surf Lifesaving NSW salutes Ron.
Ron is remembered not only for his immense contribution to the Surf Life Saving movement but his dedication to his local community over many years that made him a popular figure in the idyllic seaside town of Moruya.
Described as a lifesaver’s lifesaver, Ron’s journey in the organisation that became a true passion needs to be viewed in the context of the world he came of age in.
As a young man he signed up to do his duty in the Second World War seeing action in New Guinea and returning to become an active member of the RSL and in Rotary always concerned about the welfare of his fellow soldiers.
Moruya Surf Club like many other clubs did not have the numbers to sustain itself with country focused on the war effort.
In 1942 the flags were lowered, and they would not be raised again until 1946 with a young Chesher playing a pivotal role in the successful reformation of the club and taking on the role of President in 1951.
He obtained his Bronze Medallion in the 1947/48 season and his Instructors Certificate the following season.
In his two decades as President, Ron would be a driving force for Moruya and a strong advocate for the Far South Coast in general going on to serve as Branch President.
At a club level he would serve on many committees, coached the R&R and March Past team, and involved in a major rescue that utilised a surf boat.
Ron was a rare breed in that he would be involved in only one club throughout his life; Moruya DNA ran through his veins.
Throughout his time in Surf Life Saving he would acquire Life Membership at every level.
In 1959 his beloved club would bestow that honour on him. In 1967 the Branch would follow suit while in 1972 the State Centre (Surf Life Saving NSW) would also elevate the popular lifesaver to that exalted status.
In 2016 the set was complete as he became a Life Member for Surf Life Saving Australia.
Above: 1972: Ron, with wife Heather, at the launch of the surf boat named in his honour.
Ron was a second world war digger and served his country in New Guinea enlisting in at the age of 19 in 1942 . He was a staunch community RSL and Rotary member and has played a considerable role in each.
With the Moruya Rotary Ron immersed himself into serving his community and initiated many of the facilities the town of Moruya enjoys today. One of his favourite successes was the restoration of Quarry Park on the banks of the Moruya River.
In 2017 a plaque was unveiled at Moruya Quarry Park to recognise four quarries with an Engineering Heritage Marker.
Above: Ron, (far right) who lost an uncle when he was working at the quarry, was given the task of cutting the red ribbon to mark the occasion. Photo ESC
The quarries have a long and proud history, having provided the granite for many iconic structures, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Cenotaph in Martin Place and the colonnade for Sydney’s General Post Office.
The plaque acknowledges the community members who worked at the quarries and the family members who supported them.
Over many years, Rotary worked in cooperation with the local Council to establish Quarry Park to ensure that the important heritage of the site would not be forgotten.
Allan Jennaway who was President of Moruya Rotary in1990 recalled saying, ‘We need a decent project.’
Ron Chesher took him to where Granite Town once was. ‘There was a wilderness. There were trees and trees. It was used as a place to dump cars. Ron made me climb through and he said there was a great view … and that was the beginning.’
Ron’s vision was for a place on the bank of the river, where visitors could learn about the quarries and their significance via information boards. With the efforts of Rotary that vision has come to be via the John Gilmore Pavilion (a memorial to the original quarry manager) with its riverside board walk, information panels, a timeline pathway, gas barbecues, rock features from the quarries, parking and toilet facilities.
Many in Moruya are familiar with the little park beside the Moruya Hospital. Once a swamp it was the vision of Ron to turn the area into a park where patients might be able to go with relatives.
This again was a wonderful Rotary project and the park, now called Chesher Park after Heather and Ron Chesher is a gem on the banks of the Moruya River.
****************************************************** Ron’s passion was also his church. St John’s in Moruya. Situated in the arts/heritage precent of Moruya, St. Johns, is surrounded by beautiful gardens that contain the old, heritage listed St John's Rectory, a community hall and the 1890 Church.
St John's Church in Moruya is one of the historic churches in the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Over the years St John's parishioners, and few more so than Ron Chesher, have contributed generously to the restoration and preservation of the historic church and rectory and in times when attendances were on the wane it was Ron who stepped in to keep the church going.
His love of the church was reflected in an article he co-wrote with David Hill in 2016 titled “St John's Moruya: history of renovations” published in the Anglican Historical Society Journal.
Another of Ron’s passions was his Moruya Golf Club helping to bring it to become the stunning 18 hole course it is today
Ron had a finger in so many pies. He was a business man with a thriving supermarket, he was a solid member of the Chamber of Commerce focused on the businesses and townscape of Moruya and he was a family man with wife Heather,daughter Janelle, and son Peter.
Both Heather and Ron Chesher were awarded Moruya's 2018 'Citizen of the Year' award this Australia Day.
The relatives and friends of the Late Ronald Clarence Chesher are respectfully invited to attend his funeral to be held at the St Johns Anglican Church, Moruya, with a service commencing at 11.00 on Friday 26th October 2018. Followed by burial at the Moruya Cemetery. Donations to the Moruya Hospital Auxiliary would be appreciated.