SADLY MISSED: Dick Bitcon remembered by community
DESCRIBED as a "political force”, a "mentor” and a "generous man”, the news of Richard George Bitcon, known as Dick, passing has saddened many in the Bundaberg community and beyond.
Mr Bitcon was farewelled by loved ones, friends and community members at his funeral on Thursday after passing away on January 6 from health complications.
A familiar face around town, Mr Bitcon was known to frequent a local Bargara cafe, enjoying the day with the rest of the "coffee club” members.
He was originally from Numurkah, Victoria and after moving to Bundaberg in 1968, became well-known among political circles, though his patronage at the Bundaberg Racing Club and particularly as an "invaluable source of comment, advice and guidance”.
Long-time friend and former Hinkler MP Paul Neville made a moving eulogy at Mr Bitcon's funeral, outlining his early life working on the land, his ownership of Produce Traders (now Boylans Produce), his love for all sport and his passion for politics.
"His love for AFL made him somewhat of a local authority when he moved to Bundaberg,” Mr Neville said.
"Dick was a past president of the Bundaberg Amateur Turf Club and patron of the current Bundaberg Race Club.”
Former deputy prime minister Warren Truss paid tribute to Mr Bitcon, who said he came to know him through the National Party.
"I admired Dick greatly,” Mr Truss told the NewsMail.
"He was very actively involved in a huge number of community organisations, groups and sporting clubs and was the Wide Bay zone vice president for the National Party for many years.
"We all admired him because he was very level-headed, committed and sensible and was always looking for a positive solution.”
Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said Mr Bitcon was a "highly respected political force, known by all sides of politics as a gentleman and a dedicated campaigner”.
"His contribution to the Bundaberg community as patron of the Bundaberg Racing Club, dedication to sport and politics and as a local business owner is well known and his presence will be deeply missed,” Mr Bennett said.
"Dick's wealth of knowledge and experience as a lifetime member of the Liberal National Party meant that he was always approachable as a learned mentor to me, something I will always treasure.”
But overall, Mr Bennett said Mr Bitcon would be best remembered for "his personal humility, his passion for his Christian values and faith, and for his wife Carmel and his family”.
Friend Chris McLoughlin said the community would miss the "generous” man.
"He was always willing to offer his wisdom and advice which I have found practical and I will continue to refer back to for many years,” he said.