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Sudden passing of former Brewarrina GM

The Brewarrina community is mourning the loss of its former Shire Council General Manager, Jeff Sowiak. Photo TWH

Former Brewarrina Mayor Phil ‘Ocker’ O’Connor and current Mayor, Councillor Vivian Slack-Smith, have paid tribute to former Bre Council General Manager, Jeff Sowiak, who passed away suddenly last week.

Jeff served as General Manager of the Brewarrina Shire Council for five years – from 2017 until early 2022 and worked tirelessly for the Bre community.

63-year-old Mr Sowiak had a particular passion for the Goodooga community and fought hard to see the Goodooga Bore Baths and the Goodooga Road finished during his tenure.

Ocker said Jeff also played a vital role in ensuring the Jobs Gate Road was sealed, helped secure funding for the upgrade of the race club and the Geoff New Oval and the construction of new council housing.

“Jeff came to Brewarrina as the General Manager, but he ended up as a great friend,” Ocker said.

“I didn’t think I’d be doing this for Jeff on his passing - I always thought it would be the other way around and he’d be doing this for me.

“But Jeff was a great GM, a great community member, and what he did for the Bre Shire will last forever.

“He made things happen, even if he didn’t agree with a council decision. He said that was his job and what the council and Mayor asked for, that’s what he was paid to do, so he went ahead and did it with a smile.

“He was a very sincere man and although most people only knew him as the General Manager, he had a hell of a lot fun in him when you got to know him well.

“He always wanted David Kirby to be the next General Manager, and it filled his heart up that David achieved that.

“He was a fellow who wanted to make things happen, not to get praise but to fulfil what the community and council wanted. A lot of people come into these positions looking at the pay packet, but that wasn’t Jeff.

“He’d worked as a GM in councils in nearly every state in Australia, and when he came to Bre he made lifelong friends, and it was as though he’d lived here all his life.

“He said he’d do a couple more years at Balranald and then spend time with his wife and family and then get to travel - and he didn’t get to do that.

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