Mortlake newsman Don Atchison farewelled at private funeral

MORTLAKE journalist Donald Atchison will be remembered as a friendly, generous, community-minded man. 

Mr Atchison, a well-known member of the Mortlake community, died suddenly last Friday, aged 73. 

Former Moyne Shire mayor and Mortlake riding councillor Brenda Hampson said Mr Atchison’s passing was a great loss to the community. 

Ms Hampson said she was first introduced to Mr Atchison when he took over running the video shop in town, but she came to know him best when he took over reporting for the Mortlake Dispatch newspaper, a role he held for more than 10 years. 

“To me he was one of the most honest reporters there was. You could tell him something in confidence and know it wasn’t going to be printed,” she said. 

“He just found a place in the community and was welcomed. He had a very happy life in town with his partner Eileen. 

“He was a fantastic community person, be it the racing club, the football clubs or a festival — he was always around. 

“He was a great support to me when I was mayor and councillor and I was always very appreciative of that.”

Ms Hampson said Mr Atchison was a well-respected member of  the community and would be “greatly missed”.

The Standard journalist David Chapman worked with Mr Atchison at Western District Newspapers. 

Mr Atchison started as a contributor in about 1998 and later took on full-time reporting duties for the Mortlake Dispatch and Western Plains Advertiser. Mr Atchison stayed in the role until  2010.

“Don made it his own and did a tremendous job with it,” Mr Chapman said. 

“He knew everybody and everybody knew him. He offered a lot of guidance to young journalists, especially about how to find a story and the best person to talk to. He had plenty of contacts.”

Mr Chapman said Mr Atchison had a passion for horse racing and football. 

Former HFNL president and Mortlake Cats champion Jim Bell said Mr Atchison served as secretary of the Mortlake Football Club for many years and later served on the Hampden league executive. He was also a life member of the Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association. 

“Football was a big passion of his and he knew people at every club,” Mr Bell said. 

“I really enjoyed having Don on the HFNL executive while I was president.

“I have fond memories of working with him. He did a brilliant job at Mortlake and then for the league. 

“He was able to talk to people to make sure things got done,” he said. “His history of  umpiring meant he had a brilliant understanding and grasp of the game when he moved into club and league administration.” 

Mr Bell said Mr Atchison did “amazing work” for the Mortlake community. 

“He did so much good for the town. He reported on anything, be it an event or a sporting match and he did a good job of it,” he said. 

Mr Atchison was farewelled at a private family funeral yesterday.

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