By Romy Stephens
Lilydale RSL president Don Parsons sadly passed away on 2 May.
Born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1947, Mr Parsons grew up there before enlisting in the Royal Australian Navy at age 15.
He trained at HMAS Cerberus and his first sea posting was to HMAS Sydney, taking Australian troops to Borneo during the Confrontation conflict.
Mr Parsons served in the Royal Australian Navy for 34 years, with nearly 18 years at sea.
For most of this time he served as a submariner on the HMS Sealion, HMAS Oxley, HMAS Ovens, HMAS Onslow, HMAS Otama. He also spent time with Signal Intelligence in the United Kingdom.
After retiring from the Navy he raised a family, son Ash and daughter Talia, and ran a naval themed caf¨¦ at the Croydon Market Place.
He later served for many years as a Justice of the Peace and as a Bail Justice.
In 2014, he was part of a new group that took over leadership of the Lilydale RSL.
When he became president, Mr Parsons told the Ranges Trader Mail – as it was called at the time – that the aim of the RSL in its new chapter was to be more approachable and involved in the community.
Casey MP Tony Smith said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” to hear of his friend’s passing.
“As president of the Lilydale RSL, he was a fine leader,” Mr Smith said.
“He gave so much of himself to our community and shone a bright light on our local Anzac history.
“He was a devoted father and a dear friend to so many, I was privileged to one of them.”
Mount Evelyn RSL secretary Anthony McAleer also reflected on Mr Parsons’ contribution to the local community.
“As president of the sub-branch, Don achieved much for the club and the community, especially during the Centenary of World War One,” Mr McAleer said.
“Sadly three projects he worked very hard on, the Seville War Memorial, the history of the Lilydale RSL and the re-creation of the Digger statue on top of the Lilydale War Memorial, he will now never see.
“Lilydale has lost a legend and many in the town, a true friend. Our condolences to his family.”