The Pyrenees community has been left in shock following the sudden death of councillor and former mayor Michael O’Connor on Tuesday night.
In a statement mayor David Clark said the community was “shocked and saddened” by the unexpected passing.
“Michael attended the ordinary council meeting last night, shared a meal with officers and his councillor colleagues, and collapsed soon after he returned home,” the statement read.
Mr O’Connor was first elected to the Pyrenees Shire in 2008, representing the Beaufort Ward. He served three terms as mayor in 2010/11, 2012/13 and 2015/16.
He moved to the shire in 2000 where he ran a small farm at Waterloo, just north of Beaufort.
He was actively involved in the CFA, Beaufort Secondary College and, up until recently, on the board of management of Beaufort and Skipton Health Services.
During his time as a councillor Mr O’Connor served as a director of the former Highlands Regional Waste Management Association and was a council delegate for the Grampians Central West Waste and Recovery Group.
In a statement Ripon MP Louise Staley, whose electorate takes in the Beaufort Ward, said “I can say without hesitation that he has been one of my strongest local advisors”.
“He was an outstanding advocate for his community and I will miss his counsel,” the statement read.
Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford also paid tribute to the experienced councillor, describing him as a “true champion for Beaufort and the wider Pyrenees Shire”.
“Michael was a fantastic advocate for his town and region and he and I often spoke about local projects and aspirations,” Ms Pulford said in a statement.
Mr O’Connor was 69. He is survived by his wife Judy, children Damien, Rachael, Emma, Liam and grandson Myles.