Warrnambool has lost one of its most controversial and innovative former councillors in Frank McCarthy, who died at the age of 88 in Warrnambool on Saturday.
Mr McCarthy, who was born in Swan Hill before being educated at Macarthur and Hamilton, moved to Warrnambool in 1955 on the back of winning feature running events at the Stawell Easter Carnival.
He married his wife Rita in 1957 and went into rabbit buying around the district, but after a bad debt he invented his own ice-making machine where he supplied blocked ice to local caravan parks for 20 cents a block in 1958.
Mr McCarthy reinvented the machine to produce 1440 bags of crushed ice a day after it was found people wanted ice crushed instead of in a block form.
The father of eight ventured into local politics in 1979, winning the old George Ward in Warrnambool and from day one he put his stamp on local government.
He served 14 years straight as a councillor and had two terms as mayor – in his role as mayor he would attend 300 different functions a year.
He donated his mayoral salary of $12,000 back to local charities. Mr McCarthy was instrumental in leading a rally on the Civic Green to stop proposed plans to close the Warrnambool railway station and he helped ban topless barmaids from the old Lady Bay Hotel.
Mr McCarthy’s son Frank junior said his dad was heavily committed to family, friends and the local community.
“My parents formed a wonderful partnership which went through some amazing ups and downs,” he said.
“Frank was passionate about issues in the local community. He was a hard working family man, who had a very strong work ethic. He had the ability to think outside the square. He had various business interests in his life but his most successful would have to be the event catering which he started in 1973 and it’s still going strong today.”
Former long-serving councillor Jack Daffy described Mr McCarthy as a very positive person who was a talented sportsman and clever businessman.
“Frank was what some people would call controversial but he was always kicking up for the battlers,” Mr Daffy said.
“Frank was a real ideas person. He was passionate in his role as a councillor. He led an incredible life starting off working on the back of a baker’s cart and then turning into a successful businessman with the support of Rita and his family. Frank was similar to the late councillor Jim Leahy, they were always there trying to help other people.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.