DESPITE originally hailing from Melbourne, freshly-minted Order of Australia recipient Jim Ryan holds a special place in Colac’s municipal history.
The veteran solicitor was the last person to serve as City of Colac mayor before the Kennett government’s municipal reforms two decades ago and the first person to lead Colac-Otway Shire once the administrative period wrapped up in 1996.
Mr Ryan notched up 17 years of municipal service from 1985 to 2004 but his community work extended beyond council chambers, to sporting and service committees.
He has served as Colac Turf Club president, Ballarat Catholic Diocese social justice committee president, Colac and District Cricket Association president and on the Colac Area Health Service board.
“I received the news about the OAM just after Easter — I was quite surprised,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan studied law at Melbourne University and worked as a junior solicitor in the city before moving to the south-west in 1966.
He became partner at Colac firm Arundell, Murray and Ryan in 1972 and still works on site, having also served as Western District Law Association president in 1976 and 1977.
“When I first came to Colac in July 1966, I didn’t have a car and knew nothing about the town,” Mr Ryan said. “As a young fellow, I’d head back to Melbourne every weekend to play football but those trips became less and less as I began to really feel at home here.”