Eurobodalla’s last shire president and first Mayor Chris Vardon passed away peacefully on Sunday morning in Batemans Bay, aged 75, his family by his side.
A friend and mentor to many, and widely regarded as one of life’s true leaders, Chris was a man of honour, humour and courtesy.
These characteristics led to 12 years of service as Eurobodalla’s Mayor between 1989 and 2001, elected year on year by fellow councillors for his ability to shape debate with fairness and equity.
Chris’ wife Judy was a constant and loyal companion through life, and the staunch support behind 21 years of commitment to the Eurobodalla community as a councillor.
The botanic gardens, the university campus, tourism marketing, and Council’s trainee and apprenticeship initiative are all Vardon legacies.
Long-time colleague and close friend Cr Rob Pollock says Chris was rightfully proud of his achievements as mayor and as president of the New South Wales Shires Association.
“Eurobodalla’s reputation under Chris’ leadership grew steadily over those years. His statesmanship and his thorough preparation and research on all matters took this Council to a higher place in government circles.”
“Eurobodalla Shire was his pride, his contribution incalculable,” Rob said. “Chris gave so much and expected so little in return.”
Rob recalls Chris’ regular trips around the shire offices to catch up with the staff. “He made many friends through his courtesy and particularly his wonderful sense of humour. His response when asked how he was - I’m always well! - became a catchcry.
Council’s Director of Infrastructure Warren Sharpe also remembers Chris’ selfless nature, describing him as a friend and mentor.
“Chris knew the power of the collective voice was far stronger than one, whether that was in Council, the South East Australian Transport Strategy group, or the shires association.
“One of his greatest skills was to gain consensus. Even after robust debate, he was able to leave colleagues feeling they had contributed and had gained something of value they could support.”
Likewise, Clr Maureen Nathan recounted Chris’ knack for enabling difficult decisions to be reached without necessarily agreeing, and without acrimony. “Men like him are few and far between,” she said.
Clr Lindsay Brown says Chris has left a great legacy. “Chris led the shire with true vision. He understood his responsibility as Mayor and as a collegiate and supportive leader.”
Mayor Liz Innes also reflected on Chris’s tremendous contribution to the Eurobodalla. “Many of the wonderful facilities and services our residents enjoy today are thanks to Chris’ hard work and connections. He was a true statesman who loved this place and the people he represented.”
Council extends sincere condolences to Judy and their daughters.
A public celebration and acknowledgement of Chris’ life and his enormous contribution to the shire will be held at a later time.