George Sparnon.
George Sparnon. Marc Stapelberg

Tributes flow for ‘gentle giant’

WHEN George Sparnon passed away last week, aged 76, the Lismore Men's Shed lost a stalwart president, the local community lost a great supporter, and his partner Judy lost the love of her life.

Born in Gawler, South Australia, on December 16, 1944, Mr Sparnon was the second youngest of seven children.

Growing up, his family moved a great deal and although his formal schooling was sparse and disjointedly short, his love of learning never left him.

Judy said they first met when young, then again after 50 years.

She said his adult life was varied to the extreme - Mr Sparnon attended Theological College, but quickly discovered religion was not for him, but that working with people was.

A keen motorcyclist, Mr Sparnon also undertook a plumbing apprenticeship then went to Sydney in 1968 and worked in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for a few years.

His varied career included owning a vineyard in the Clare Valley and a security business and he later worked as a teacher's aide.

"The kids loved him, they used to run up to us when we were out to say 'hello' to him," Judy said.

When he joined the Lismore Men & Community Shed, his enthusiasm saw the membership rise to 50, encouraging them to do minor maintenance for the most vulnerable in the community, transforming unroadworthy caravans into housing for homeless Vietnam veterans.

Despite his own ill-health, Mr Sparnon constantly lobbied for the shed, which he felt was vital for the community.

"He always encouraged old-timers who would pop in to see what was happening," Judy said.

"There was a cup of coffee for them, as George was always interested in their lives and made them feel special to have someone to impart their knowledge of their trades and the history of Lismore."

Mr Sparnon recently returned to Gawler, to be close to his family, including three grandsons.

His funeral will be live-streamed on Friday, May 15 at 2.30pm Australian Central Time.

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