Property developer passes away

ONE of Ballina’s first property developers, Barry Phillip Crowley, died this week after a two-year illness, aged 76.

Born in Ballina in 1933, Mr Crowley was one of nine children.

He loved the town and spent most of his life in Ballina, according to his sister, Angela Crowley.

“He wouldn’t like to leave town, in case he happened to miss something,” she said.

Mr Crowley did a carpentry apprenticeship after leaving school, then worked in Sydney briefly before returning to Ballina to go into business with his father, Jim.

They built many houses on Ballina Island.

“From there, he gradually went into property development,” Ms Crowley said.

“Barry was a self-made man and he had an acute brain.

“He was always cheerful and he was a happy fellow. But while we were growing up, Barry sure knew how to get a bite out of me.

“He was a great torment as my younger brother.

“I would be doing the washing up and he would be doing the wiping up, but he’d keep putting the dishes back into the water, telling me I hadn’t cleaned them properly.

“He will certainly be missed in our family. His passing will leave a big hole.”

Although he never married and had no children, he was close to his nephews and great-nephews and their families.

Friend Graeme Wappett said Mr Crowley had been proud that two of his nephews, Michael and Pat Kearney, followed him into the real estate industry.

“One day I said to Barry, ‘Michael’s on his own now, how do you think he’ll go?’ And he said, ‘I won’t let him fail’,” Mr Wappett said.

“He looked after his nephews and they looked after him.

“Barry will be well remembered. He was good to a lot of people and never made a lot of noise about it.”

The Crowley name is well known around Ballina, with Crowley Village being named in honour of the family.

This came about after Jim Crowley donated the land to the church for the purpose of building an aged-care facility.

But those who knew Barry Crowley said he preferred to keep a low profile in his own business dealings.

LJ Hooker Ballina principal Michael Shay met Mr Crowley in 1973.

“I met him through one of his nephews when I first came to Ballina,” he said.

“We started selling his houses for him and sold a lot of property on his behalf over the years. We sold him the Woolworths in River Street.

“Barry was an excellent gentleman to deal with – we had a good relationship with him.

“He built a large number of homes in Ballina. There are a lot of people in town who are living in Barry Crowley homes.

“He also built a number of shopping arcades and shops around town.

“Barry was a very generous man and I am very saddened to hear of his passing.”

Mr Crowley also developed the Lennox Palms Estate near Skennars Head.

Mr Crowley’s memorial service will be held at St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Church in Ballina on Tuesday at 10am.

He will be buried at the Wardell cemetery.

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