After a long battle with illness, Greg Roberts died on Christmas Eve. He leaves a widow, Louise.
Greg and Louise moved to Scotland Island in 1994, occupying Pitt Point House, close to Tennis Court Wharf. They lived there until earlier this year, when they moved to Bayview.
|Greg receiving his Premier’s Bushfire Emergency Citation Award, December 2020
During their 27 years on the island the couple were well known across the offshore community. Greg was president of the Scotland Island Residents’ Association and was also active in the island’s rural fire brigade.
‘Greg had community at the centre of his life’, says Paul Purvis, a former editor of the PON. Paul remembers how Greg worked to improve the lot of all those who call offshore home. Among Greg’s many achievements was the securement of cheaper wharf fees for waterfront offshore residents. Greg’s argument was that for them access to the water was a necessity, not a luxury.
‘The offshore community has lost one of its most stalwart supporters’, says Paul. ‘Greg spent hours each week writing to anyone who would listen to his concerns, not just for Pittwater, but for humanity as a whole.’
Sharon Kinnison, Vice-President of SIRA, describes Greg as an exceptionally good SIRA president. ‘A quietly spoken man, he always tried to lead through consensus’, she recalls.
Greg, a retired corporate trainer, cared about community, but he was also an ardent champion of the environment. This was an interest he had in common with Alan Yuille, who recalls how Greg introduced him to the Northern Beaches Sustainability Advocacy Group. ‘He was a wonderful man’, remembers Alan. ‘The more I got to know Greg, the more I loved him.’
|Greg sailing his hand-built dinghy
Greg was an active member of the island fire brigade, attending training sessions well into his 80s. Captain Peter Lalor describes him as a ‘passionate advocate for the brigade’s Community Fire Unit’, with his contribution being recognised with the CFU ‘Member of the Year’ award in 2020.
But it was not all work in Greg’s life. His easy charm led to many friendships, not least because he helped organise the Pittwater Offshore Wine Syndicate. Greg and Louise also shared a love of travel.
One of Greg’s greatest passions was for boat building. He constructed yachts, skiffs and even his own commuter boat. These were always made of timber, and Greg could frequently be found working on the lawn adjacent to Tennis Wharf. His attention to detail attracted the admiration of marine architect Hans Weitmann. ‘His craftsmanship was superb: a true perfectionist’, recalls Hans.
Greg was often helped by Paul Purvis in his boat building. ‘Greg had a love for classical music, which we would listen to while toiling over boat construction.’ Paul also remembers with affection his ‘wonderfully esoteric discussions’ with Greg.
|Greg and Louise with friends Jenny Cullen,
Sharon Kinnison and Hans Weitmann.
Photo: Shane O’Neill, O’Neill Photographics
‘Greg was a selfless man, always ready to repair a damaged wharf, clear a blocked drain, or whatever needed doing’, says Paul. ‘But he was also one of my closest friends. I’ll miss him dearly’.
On 5 December Greg and Louise visited the Two Catherines Café, where they were presented with a framed montage of photos chosen to represent the many facets of their lives on the island. Each of the 24 images, reproduced below, tells its own story.
The offshore community extends its deepest sympathies to Louise. Funeral arrangements for Greg will be published in the PON as soon as they are known.