Stephen Mackey is being remembered by south-west educators as a tenacious advocate for Warrnambool's university campus and a beacon for students learning to communicate professionally.
Dr Mackey, 71, died suddenly at his Koroit home on Saturday, July 26. A funeral will take place in Warrnambool on Thursday.
He was a candidate in Moyne Shire Council's elections last year, a volunteer on Moyne's community vision committee, taught at Port Fairy's University of the Third Age, and drove buses for Moyneyana House.
Dr Mackey worked as a local newspaper reporter and in public relations in the UK before moving to Australia in 1990 to work at the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education - later Deakin University - where he met nursing lecturer and later wife, Lorraine Mielnik.
"He had a good sense of fairness for people; that if you put in the effort you should get rewarded," Ms Mielnik said.
Dr Mackey was also president of the National Tertiary Education Union branch at Deakin Warrnambool and was involved in turmoil over the campus' future.
"He was very vocal in the union and he was on an academic board. I remember standing at the front of the campus on a picket line, he would gather everyone and say 'we are going to do this'," Ms Mielnik said.
The couple retired together in 2015 and spent time with grandchildren Ivy, 7, and Arria, 4, making use of the Koroit library, which Dr Mackey became an advocate for.
"It was taking them to the Koroit library that meant he went into fight for it and saw it as a great place," Ms Mielnik said.
Moyne Shire councillors paid tribute to Dr Mackey during their July meeting this week.
Koroit's Jan Stewart, a long-term friend and colleague of Dr Mackey's at Deakin, remembered his intellect, sense of humour and loud laugh.
"He had a great sense of his personal principles and was prepared to stand up for what he felt and thought," Dr Stewart said.
"Steve was very fit and he used to do lots of walking and be out in the open air. He enjoyed the environment here."
Deakin Warrnambool's National Tertiary Education Union branch president Michael Callaghan said he was a tenacious advocate.
"He threw his heart and soul into representing staff on every occasion he could. Quite often to the ire of vice chancellors," Dr Callaghan said.
"I honestly would have thought he would outlive all of us. He really was one of the good ones."
He really was one of the good ones.- Michael Callaghan
Ms Mielnik said she was grateful for the support she had received.
"It's not an easy time but it does help. The people who were contacting me and sending condolences; it amazes me that he connected with so many people," she said.
"It is the collective of the small things that often make the difference; I think that is what he did."
A funeral will take place at Eastern Park Chapel in Warrnambool at 4pm on Thursday, July 8.
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