MOUNT Gambier is mourning one of its most recognised residents following the passing of Jack Hopgood OAM.
Born on February 21 1920, Mr Hopgood passed on October 14 at the age of 101.
He was known within the community for his service to Australia in World War II and his community work implemented upon his return to Mount Gambier.
Enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force as an air force technician in April of 1940 at age 19, Mr Hopgood was held captive by the Japanese in Singapore, Java and Thailand for more than three years.
Leaving the war in August 1946, Mr Hopgood returned home to Mount Gambier where he threw himself into community work.
In 1947, Mr Hopgood became chairman of the Mount Gambier Motor Trade Association before becoming a member of the newly formed Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce in 1948.
However it was not only community work which took a large portion of Mr Hopgood’s life.
He married Jeane in 1948 prior to fathering four children, Peter, Andrew, Duncan and Cathryn.
Returned Service League president Bob Sandow – who knew Mr Hopgood for over a decade- said he would be missed throughout the community.
“I would go to Jack if I wanted to know anything and I respected him immensely as I respected all our veterans,” Mr Sandow said.
“I think it was amazing how he was able to come home from everything he had been through during the war, put all that aside and get on with life the way he did.”
Mr Sandow said there would be a “large gap” within the RSL community following the passing of Mr Hopgood as with all passing of veterans.
“Jack will be missed dearly throughout Mount Gambier,” he said.
Mount Gambier City Council Mayor Lynette Martin echoed Mr Sandow’s comments, stating she too would miss the veteran.
“Jack will be remembered for his contribution to industry and commerce within Mount Gambier,” Ms Martin said.
“It was through his involvement as president of the Automotive Traders Association which then merged with the Mount Gambier Traders Association that the Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce was formed some 70 years ago.
“Through the chamber, Jack was also instrumental in the establishment of TAFE in Mount Gambier as well as the Queen Elizabeth Park Trust.”
Ms Martin said Mr Hopgood was also a pioneer in shaping Mount Gambier’s future as a commercial centre all those years ago.
“Jack was a respected elder statesman of our community who throughout his life remained vitally interested in civic activities,” she said.