A WELL-KNOWN local businessman, who had “a big life” and often said “it was better to be born lucky than rich”, was farewelled on Thursday.
The former owner of the North Nowra Tavern, Dave Dillon passed away on June 20.
A large crowd attended his funeral service at the Shoalhaven Crematorium at Worrigee.
Over the years, Mr Dillon played a role in a number of local businesses, including the Bomaderry Bowling Club, where he was the first secretary manager.
When he started, the club comprised one green, one mower and a tin shed to house it, with a bar inside it.
In 18 years he built the club up to one of the most successful on the South Coast, encouraging the board to buy up surrounding houses for future expansion.
He “coaxed” the club into buying a poker machine, the proceeds of which were donated to fund the building of the Senior Citizens Centre in Bomaderry.
Mr Dillon also identified the site and harangued Shoalhaven City Council to develop the Bomaderry Sporting Complex and pool.
After the Bomaderry Basketball Stadium was built, the sport had a surge, and Mr Dillon found, imported and employed through the club the first professional basketball coach in Australia (an American named Gene Rogers) who coached numerous Shoalhaven sides.
After leaving the club, with his wife Sue he built and operated the Bomaderry Motor Inn.
Together with Nowra solicitor Bill Goodman, he bought a caravan park at South Nowra and developed both the Caltex service station and McDonald's, opening up what is now the busy South Nowra retail/ bulky goods precinct.
He also developed other Caltex sites across Australia.
He constructed the North Nowra Tavern and operated the business from its opening in 1985.
While at the Tavern for 28 years he sponsored every local sport he could, including Illaroo Soccer Club, North Nowra Cambewarra Cricket Club, The Jets Rugby league Club, Nowra Blues Aussie Rules, Albatross sporting clubs, Allsorts Hockey Club and several individual sports people.
He was also a consistent contributor to numerous local charities causes and fundraisers, usually without acknowledgment.
Mr Dillon also built another pub in Raymond Terrace as well as several residential developments.
Born in 1932 on Bruny Island, off the east coast of Tasmania, one of eight children, he grew up in hard times on a small farm.
Leaving school aged 12, he attended “technical school” until age 15, before working for his grandfather and uncle as a timber feller and sawmiller on Bruny Island before joining the navy at 17 in 1949.
Trained as an aircraft electrician, he was posted to HMAS Albatross and then onto HMAS Sydney where he got the taste for travel, going to Hong Kong and Singapore many times and seeing service in the Korean War.
After Korea, he was posted to England where he met his future wife Sue, who was a driver for an admiral.
They married in England and their first child Angela was born there before they returned to Australia and settled in Nowra.
He was at Montebello Island on the Sydney for the first British nuclear test and was one of the last, if not the last of his class year surviving.
He said “just before the blast it went off we were all lined up on deck, the call went out - avert your eyes! It was brighter than the sun, a great white flash followed a bit later by a shockwave and wind and the tremendous boom.”
He left the navy after 15 years but it him a love of the sea, and though he could hardly swim a stroke.
Over the years he owned numerous yachts, sailing the east coast from Tasmania to the Cape, crossing Bass Straight several times and circumnavigating Tasmania.
He particularly liked the waters north of the Whitsundays.
For seven years he lived on a catamaran in Mooloolaba, before moving to Kiama with his partner Fay.
He is survived by his partner Fay, former wife Sue and was father and father-in-law of Angela and Graham, Bob and Michelle, Marcelle (deceased) and Matt and three grandchildren.