Remembering David Wallin

Irene and David in 1995
Irene and David in 1995

Family and friends gathered last month to tell stories about David Anthony Wallin, who was born on April 9, 1937 in Kingsbury, England and died aged 82 years on June 1, 2019.

David married Irene in 1959, after meeting her three years earlier through her brother Chris.

Chris and David did their national service together in Cyprus.

Irene was 16 and David was 19 when they met, and they were married for 60 years.

The couple immigrated to Australia in 1971 with their daughter Sam and son James, and lived on the northern beaches of Sydney until 1997.

Although David had studied accounting at university, he never worked in that field.

Instead he spent most of his working life as a programmer and then became a project manager for Unilever.

After being retrenched at the age of 54, he directed his energies into Saving Curl Curl Lagoon and other environmental and humanitarian causes, with Irene by his side.

In 1997, when David was 60, they decided on a tree change and moved to Spicketts Creek.

During his decades in Bellingen Shire, David was a popular member of many different community groups.

Here are some tributes written by his friends and fellow activists.

From John Vernon

"David Wallin died recently from cancer after a very short period of illness.

In Bellingen, David will be missed by the many community organisations of which he and his partner Irene were active members.

Bellingen Seed Savers, The Greens, Bellingen Shire Electricity Alliance, Rural Australians for Refugees (Nambucca - Bellingen) were groups that greatly benefitted from David's commitment and organisational skills.

At the time of his death he was still pursuing the full opening of the Bellingen-Bowraville Rd and held a letter from Luke Hartsuyker, previous Cowper MP, promising its restoration.

David was a long-term Greens member, active on many campaigns for social justice and the environment. He had particular interest in improving local rail accessibility and forests.

His passion, hard work and humility will be long remembered by those lucky enough to know David."

From Gai Stern and Jen St Clair

"David was a steady, calming influence when he worked with others through the Bellinger Health Action Group (BHAG) back in 2010.

BHAG came together to help save the hospital, which was under threat of closure at that time. Far from closing, the group raised enough funds to get a new roof, start a gardening group that is still going strong today and turn the hospital's fate around.

David looked after the database so that information could be sent out to the hundreds of concerned locals who joined the group. It was a vital part of a very successful community campaign.

David and Irene, always together, were anchors for Transition Bellingen - always there at meetings, always helping things along. David managed the database and, together with Irene, helped steer one of the group's most enduring projects, Bellingen Seed Savers.

In the sometimes-animated Transition Bellingen meetings David was a calming presence, unfailingly polite, always up for a conversation, particularly about local sustainability.

But it was not only public causes that excited David. When he realised that dairy goats enjoy eating some of the branches he regularly pruned on his property at Spicketts Creek, he made it his business to deliver truckloads of freshly cut persimmon, mulberry and wattle to us at North Farm over a period of nine years! He delighted in the fact that he had turned a waste product into something useful.

David and Irene loved going to music festivals and being part of something bigger than themselves. David did not want a funeral. Instead he hoped family and friends would get together for a party in his honour and that was exactly what happened. It was his quiet generosity that so many people commented upon at the party. David was community-minded to the end. He had a strong sense of what was right, but he was never belligerent and he gave without wanting anything in return.

He was a true gentleman - in every sense of the word."

From Marianne and Walter

"David's most endearing character trait was his equanimity. Even Irene thought so. Nothing could make him raise his voice or become unkind or angry.

He was very well read and had a passion for history especially local Bellingen history. He always felt that local issues were most important and wanted to support local business and local art.

He loved muffins and local bread. He drank long black coffee and was never disappointed with it anywhere because he said 'it always tastes like coffee'. "