FORMER parliamentarian, business leader and city advocate George Keegan was remembered yesterday as an energetic man loved by all, who left his mark on Newcastle and put the welfare of the area before his personal and political interests.
Mr Keegan died in Lake Macquarie Private Hospital on Tuesday night, aged 80, after suffering a heart attack last week.
Prominent in the real estate industry, Mr Keegan ruffled the feathers of the state Labor government when he defeated Labor candidate Denis Nichols as an independent in 1988 to claim the seat of Newcastle.
The holder of a Medal of the Order of Australia was instrumental in the birth of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club and was involved in a number of community and business associations.
NSW premier during Mr Keegan's time in parliament Nick Greiner said Mr Keegan was an exemplary advocate for Newcastle.
"He always put the interests of the area ahead of his personal or political interests," he said yesterday.
"He certainly had my respect and affection and that applied widely in Macquarie Street.
Mr Keegan, as a director of the Honeysuckle Development Corporation, was resolute in his ambition to have Newcastle's working harbour used for recreation.
Vice Commodore of the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club Tom Michilis said Mr Keegan's vision for a club on the harbour was a dream he held for 14 years.
"He was a tremendous man who had the energy of 10 good men and was loved by all," he said.
Mr Keegan was a life member and president, from 1979 to 1981, of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He was the president of the Newcastle suburban Hamilton Apex Club and a life member of the Association of the Apex Clubs of Australia.
He is survived by his wife Jenny, his two sons, two stepdaughters, his brother and their families.
A service for family and friends will be held at Christ Church Cathedral on December 2.