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Percy Iszlaub: Gone But Never Forgotten

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Percy playing the tuba enthusiastically at his 90th birthday celebrations at Wondai Diggers Club ... he only retired from the band in recent months

February 7, 2018

A funeral service will be held on Friday for former Wondai Shire Chairman and Mayor Percy Harold Iszlaub, AM, who died on Monday.

The man who became the face of Wondai for so many years was born on February 3, 1926, the eldest of four children.

He attended Greenview State School, leaving early to begin work as a contract harvester during the war years when manpower shortages were acute.

Percy met his future wife, Alison, at the Wondai Show Ball. The couple married on October 18, 1968, and had two children, Jane and Leigh.

Percy got a taste of politics young in life when he served as a Queensland Grain Growers Association delegate at just 18.

On August 10, 1967, he was appointed to Wondai Shire Council to fill a casual vacancy caused by a tragic car crash. Just three years later, he became Works Chairman and in 1973 became Finance Committee Chairman.

In 1979, he became Deputy Shire Chairman and was elected Chairman in 1982 when former Chairman Les Smith retired.

He served as Chairman and then Mayor until 2004, a total of 37 years’ service on Wondai Council.

Percy also served for 15 years on the Wide Bay Burnett Electricity Board.

Highlights in Wondai Shire during his term included the construction of Boondooma Dam, major upgrades to Wondai Showgrounds and Racecourse and establishing community radio and local internet access in Wondai.

He was also instrumental in the establishment of Forest View, not suspecting that he and Alison would end up living there.

In 2001, Percy was presented with the national Centenary Medal and in 2003 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to local government and to the community of the South Burnett district, particularly the development of regional tourism, information technology access and infrastructure.

Percy was not only known for his work with Wondai Shire Council; he was also a keen rugby league player, cricketer and target shooter in his earlier years.

In 1954, he was selected as a forward in the Wide Bay representative rugby league team which played the English Test team.

He also had executive roles at the Wondai-Proston Rugby League Football Club and at the South Burnett Rugby League for many years.

Percy joined the Wondai Town Band in 1942 and became a fixture at all their performances, playing the tuba (bass).

He also tried his hand at national politics but lost a pre-selection bid to then-Kingaroy Mayor Warren Truss who went on to become Deputy PM.

At the 2015 South Burnett Australia Day Awards, Percy was presented with a special award acknowledging his lifetime of service to the South Burnett.

Percy told his friends at his 90th birthday celebrations that he had “an invader” … “They say I can’t win but I will give it a bloody good shake.”

And that he did. Despite being ill for some time, Percy kept up a hectic pace over the past two years, attending many local events and playing with the band.

He suffered a stroke in December and spent Christmas in hospital in Brisbane.

Recovering, he returned to Wondai in January and moved into Forest View with Alison.

On Australia Day, only days before his death, he enjoyed a concert at Forest View from his beloved Wondai & District Band.

Percy’s funeral service will be held from 1:00pm on Friday at the Wondai Memorial Hall; donations can be made to the band.

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Tributes From Colleagues

South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell – Percy was an outstanding citizen who made a massive contribution to the South Burnett. Wondai was his heart and soul. He served local government, agriculture and was a keen sportsman and a dedicated musician. He was an enormously positive influence in the South Burnett.

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff – Sorry to hear the sad news of the passing of a truly great statesman, a gentleman and a legend of Wondai and the South Burnett.

Cr Ros Heit – The sad loss of a wonderful man. Rest in peace, Perce.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington – My deepest condolences to the Iszlaub Family on the passing of Percy. He was a stalwart of our community, a friend to all and a wonderful inspiration to all those who knew him.

Former Member for Callide Jeff Seeney – You were one of the greatest community leaders I have ever met and your contribution to the Wondai community and its people was extraordinary. You were always a wise counsel and a great bloke to share a yarn with. We will not see your like again. Rest In Peace old mate!

Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd – I am sad to hear of Percy’s passing and pleased I had the opportunity to catch up with Percy last week.

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Former Wondai Shire Mayor Percy Iszlaub and Mayor Wayne Kratzmann spent a combined 62 years working together in the Wondai Shire Council offices in Mackenzie Street

Former South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann had a long working relationship with Percy and paid him a glowing tribute on Tuesday.

“I was Deputy CEO of Wondai Shire for 25 years, and for most of those years Percy was the Mayor,” Wayne said.

“Percy was elected to the Council in 1982 and he was re-elected unopposed right through until he retired from local government in 2004.

“The fact no one ever stood against him is proof of the high regard the community held for him.

“Wondai was the envy of many other shires because of the partnership between Percy and Wondai’s CEO Alan Keates.

“Together, they were able to get funding for all sorts of projects, and both men played a key role in making the community what it is today.”

Wayne said Percy worked in a “golden age” of local government where the needs of the community came first.

He said Percy’s commitment to the community was undoubted.

“As a Council officer, if someone came to you with a problem and you could fix it for them, you did it in those days because you knew you had the full backing of the Mayor.

“These days things are much different and there’s a lot more rules and paperwork, and I don’t think those simpler times will return.”

Former Wondai Shire councillor Kathy Duff, centre, with Percy and former Wondai CEO Alan Keates at the South Burnett Timber Museum's 15th birthday celebrations in 2016 ... this is another local project that Percy was instrumental in getting off the ground

Percy playing the tuba with the Wondai Town & District Band at last year's Wondai Show

Percy with South Burnett Deputy Mayor Cr Kathy Duff at the Freedom of Entry ceremony in Kingaroy last July

Percy was a special guest at the South Burnett Rugby League awards presentation dinner in September; Percy was a life member of the SBRL

Percy, right, with fellow Wondai Lions served up the sausage sizzle breakfast at the Mother's Day Classic fun run in Wondai last May

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Some Edited Tributes From Facebook:

Scott North:  Percy was a great man and someone I truly respect for his gentleman ways and honour. So proud to have worked for him at Council from 2000 – May 2003.

Lilian Jennings: R.I.P you were a wonderful man

Philip Robinson: R.I.P. old mate. You can never be replaced

Karyn Bjelke-Petersen:  It certainly is the end of an era and we pray that the many messages and prayers at this time help you through this difficult time. (Percy) was an amazing man for his community.

Brian & Sharon Kratzmann: Such a true gentleman. Percy was a legend, an example for us all and will never be forgotten.

Cheryl Dennien: He was a such a great man he will be missed by all young and old. R.I.P. Percy

Bronwyn Marquardt:  I am absolutely devastated by the news. I always thought of Percy as being invincible, and that he would go on forever. He was one of the kindest and most inspirational men I have known. Later, when I was a young journalist, Percy always had advice, insights into current affairs, background about events; and if required, was available for comments for stories at all hours. Not just because we were related – he treated everyone the same! In recent times, as he fought his ‘invader’ I was stunned at how tireless he was and how involved he still was with the community, still playing his beloved tuba with the band, giving speeches, turning up to meetings, working behind the scenes to help others …

CROW-FM: During his days as mayor of Wondai, Percy was instrumental in ensuring the South Burnett had its own community radio station and threw his support behind making this a reality. CROW-FM was born. His support of the station never wavered, and for this we will be forever grateful as we work with a heavy heart.

Terry Jacobsen: It is often said that people’s lives are like a book – some with few chapters, and some with many. Percy’s life was like a great library: many books, hundreds of chapters. These libraries are a diminishing asset so that any loss is greatly felt. So long my old mate, we didn’t agree on lots of things but it was always a worthy conversation. Keep a place in the horn section for me.

Nina Temperton: The South Burnett will not see a man like him again – this is a great loss to all. We owe a debt of gratitude and I hope Percy will be richly rewarded where he is now. R.I.P.

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One Response to Percy Iszlaub: Gone But Never Forgotten

  1. Ross Wolfenden

    Knew Percy 70 years ago. Played cricket with Stonelands team and always good to see Percy on the field. Many memories.

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