Family mourn loss of community stalwart

THE hinterland community is mourning the passing of former long-time Bank of Queensland Beerwah Owner Manager Jeff Willis.

The father of Scott, Jordan and Sarah, grandfather of Zoe and Mia and husband to Debbie has been remembered as a fantastic dad, husband, car lover and community stalwart.

Sons Scott and Jordan said their dad was a man with a terrific wit and boundless energy for his family.

“Dad never ceased to amaze with all of the incredible thoughts and ideas in his head, and the beauty and emotions that he proudly showed from his heart,” Scott said.

Jordan said a lifetime of memories included the story of chasing bank robbers and bringing home undrivable cars to refurbish.

“Not only did he chase down a bank robber who had just held him at gunpoint, he bravely brought home a fire damaged rolling shell of a Corvette and showed it to our mum,” he said.

“Our dad was a man of great character, full of wit, love, and kindness.

“To many, he was a great bank manager who went on to become a great mate, to his siblings he was exactly what a brother should be, to his wife he was loyal and thoughtful, and to us he was the perfect role model and the best dad anyone could ask for.

“Regardless of how you knew him, I’m sure he has touched your heart in ways that you’ll never forget.”

Jeff’s wife Debbie told GC&M News that while it was difficult to come to terms with, she said she loved their nearly 41 years of marriage. “We worked together in the bank for 15 years and we both worked hard, but we always had a good time,” she said.

“He didn’t have a bad bone in his body and there’s been lots of lovely people saying that’s how they remember him.”

The community he helped shape also spoke out in recognition of him.

Former banking customers, the Hammond family from Beerwah Discount Tyres and Batteries, posted on Facebook, writing: “23 years ago it was you that had faith in us the one that helped us to get started with Beerwah Tyres. We thank you for everything you’ve done in between for us. Much love The Hammond Family.”

BOQ Beerwah Owner Manager Martin Kavanagh said he was saddened to hear of Jeff’s death.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Jeff’s wife, Debbie, their children and family at this difficult time,” he said.

“Jeff was a valued member of the BOQ community for more than three decades.

“After spending 20 years as part of our corporate network he opened the Beerwah branch with Debbie in 2003.

“Together, they built the branch into a successful owner-managed business before stepping away in 2018 in readiness for retirement.”

Jeff passed away on January 14 following a period of ill health.