A genuine devotion

By Mitch Gaynor

IT says something of the man that Tom Malone was taking phone calls and writing out fire permits in his role at the Maleny Rural Fire Brigade just days before he passed away.

Tom was an original member of the MRFG and fire warden for 40 years in a role that would have been enough work for most people.

But the long-time Maleny local, father of two, grandfather of six, great-grandfather of two, and husband of 58 years to Desley, was not like most people when it came to family, friends and community.

Giving back came second nature to Tom. Among the many groups he was involved with included founder of the Maleny Youth National Fitness Club, he was a Maleny Rotarian for 27 years, a founder of the Maleny & District Meals on Wheels, a founding member of the Erowol Retirement Village management committee, a founding member and volunteer guide for the Mary Cairncross Management Committee, an original member of the Maleny SES, a life member of the Landsborough St Vincent de Paul Society (awarded September 2022), a volunteer for the Maleny Historical Society, a member of the Maleny Men’s Shed as well as Maleny Probus.

And there were more.

Desley said she would remember Tom as a wonderful person and “we will miss him forever”.

“He truly lived his life well, was a devoted husband, wonderful family man, a gentleman and committed to his community,” Desley said.

Tom was born in Warwick on September 12, 1929 and was the second youngest in a family of 10. He became a motor mechanic and later bought a service station at Stone’s Corner.

Tom and Desley first met at Jazzland, a dance hall at Cotton Tree and the pair married in 1964. Some four years later they bought Desley’s parent’s business and made Maleny their home. They had two children, Peter and Andrea.

Andrea described her father as “patient, honest and true” and said their early childhood with Tom was an adventure.

“ We had a Dad who was hard-working and nothing seemed too much trouble,” Andrea said. “He would play trains on the floor, help build a cubby house, find missing things and show us how to milk a cow.

“We are all incredibly grateful that you have lived a long, happy life and you enjoyed good health right up until the end.” Also speaking at Tom’s funeral last week, Peter described days at their property seeing his father work into the night “fixing things”.

“We used to joke how he spent more time fixing the mowers than mowing,” Peter said.

Peter added how much he valued his father’s input into mentoring and educating his own children.

Andrea and Peter recently retraced the path Tom and Desley took on a trip over the Simpson Desert.

“He remembered it all and helped us get ready and shared experiences and advice on how to navigate it,” Peter said.

And despite falling ill in October, he was lending his expertise on fixing a car just weeks ago.

“My mother, sister, family, my partner, children and myself are so thankful for his part in our lives,” Peter said.

“He helped everyone without a hesitation and was an inspirational father figure.”  Tom died peacefully at home on November 11 after a short battle with cancer.