VALE: Bryan Joseph Conquest.
VALE: Bryan Joseph Conquest. Contributed

Bryan Conquest a larrikin until the end

WITH his quick wit, dimples and all-round charm, Bryan Joseph Conquest was as likeable as he was successful and selflessly dedicated his life to the Bundaberg region for more than 50 years.

The former Bundaberg city councillor and inaugural member for Hinkler died peacefully on January 2.

The son of Norman Charles, a drayman and Marjory Ellen, a seamstress, he had two siblings and was the middle child.

The family lived in Brisbane for a while before moving to Gladstone during World War II and he finished his schooling there in 1945.

His daughter, Susan Joan Conquest, recalled the many stories his former classmates shared about his childhood when she attended a 50-year Gladstone school reunion with him.

"They told me of tough times and rations during the war,” she said.

"But many fun times where they recounted pranks Dad would pull on boys twice his size then run for the hills.

"He was tiny in size, they said, but not in stature.”

VALE: Bryan Joseph Conquest.Photo Contributed
VALE: Bryan Joseph Conquest.Photo Contributed Contributed

After graduating, he took up an apprenticeship at the Gladstone Observer, becoming a skilled tradesman both as a compositor and letterpress machinist.

The lovable larrikin was a keen motorcyclist in his youth.

"He had a new flatmate that was a policeman and he doubled him to work for a while,” Susan said.

"Then one day on arrival the policeman stepped off and Dad said 'hey, I need a licence, can I come in and get one now'.”

It was one of his other passions that brought him to Bundaberg - sport.

A talented sportsman, Mr Conquest represented Gladstone in rugby league, before being lured to Bundaberg by an offer from Past Brothers to play footy for 30 shillings per week.

He represented Bundaberg from 1954 until he retired from the game four years later.

Mr Conquest started working at Glovers Printing Works in 1955, continuing a rich family history in the printing industry.

It was also at the Bundaberg printing business where he met his future wife Beverly, who just happened to be the boss's daughter.

"He certainly knew how to get a job for life,” Susan quipped.

"Mum and Dad were married in December 1958 and celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary just over a week ago.”

He went on to run the business with long-time friend and business partner Graham Evans.

In 1970, Mr Conquest turned to politics and was elected to Bundaberg City Council where he was an alderman for 15 years.

His political career took another massive step up when in 1984 he became the inaugural federal member for the newly created seat of Hinkler, serving for one term as the Nationals MP.

Mr Conquest served on many committees and community clubs throughout the region.

Sadly, in his later life, Mr Conquest was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, robbing him of his independence.

But like everything else in his life, Mr Conquest handled it with dignity and his well-worn sense of humour.

"The dimples and larrikinism lives on through his family,” Susan said.

Boy from the bush did Bundaberg proud

BUNDABERG Mayor Jack Dempsey and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt have both paid tribute to political giant and beloved family man Bryan Joseph Conquest.

Cr Dempsey said the late Mr Conquest was a champion for public libraries, pools and recreational areas.

"Bryan evidently lived by a creed that the tougher the task, the more rewarding the outcome and during his 15-year stint with council he achieved, or helped achieve many things that are now an accepted part of everyday life within our community,” he said.

"He also drove an agenda that resulted in the implementation of a fairer Council rating system through the introduction of differential rating.”

Mr Pitt said the former businessman was "a boy from the bush, a pillar of the Bundaberg community” and would be sadly missed.