After the emotion had receded and the plaque was in pride of place on the Jim Pollock Whyalla Wetlands memorial, the late mayor’s wife said it all.
Jenny Pollock had watched as the wetlands were dedicated to her husband on Saturday. There was an outpouring of recognition from leading citizens and poignant words from their daughters Kerri Morgan and Steffany Woolford.
Later, when talking to the Whyalla News, Mrs Pollock said the tribute by the community had been “lovely”.
“It is a touching thing for them to do and it shows how he was seen in the community’s eyes,” she said.
“He loved Whyalla and I guess it showed that they loved him back.”
Her words were in addition to the sentiments of daughter Kerri who thanked the community for the tribute which she said showed how much her father was respected.
“He loved the wetlands and was the main instigator of it,” she said.
Mrs Pollock’s other daughter, Steffany, said her father had left a lasting impression on everyone he met.
“It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, Dad would give you five minutes of his time,” she said. “He was a great man. We are thankful to everyone involved for making this happen.”
More than 50 people attended the ceremony that involved the unveiling of the plaque, featuring a colour portrait of Mr Pollock, set on the front of a 14-tonne iron ore boulder. Independent Frome MP and cabinet minister Geoff Brock was almost overcome with emotion as he paid tribute to Mr Pollock.
Deputy mayor Jenny Barnes, deputising for mayor Lyn Breuer, who was present, and Giles MP Eddie Hughes gave deeply moving and, at times, amusing speeches as they recounted the life of Mr Pollock and why the wetlands’ naming was so appropriate. “I can’t think of a more appropriate honour for someone I had the pleasure of working for, and with, while an employee of council and then as a councillor,” Cr Barnes said.
“The lump of iron ore that carries a special plaque in Jim’s honour is entirely appropriate. Jim was, indeed, like a rock for Whyalla with a heart that probably weighed in around the 14-tonne mark.”
Mr Brock said he had come from Port Pirie as a friend of the family and was proud to have been invited.
“I first met Jim when I was a councillor and Port Pirie and we came over to Whyalla for business,” he said.
“Jim made sure he went out his way to make us feel welcome, That was the kind of man Jim was.
“He was dedicated to the position and always made sure the image of Whyalla was at the forefront.
"As a councillor. he was fantastic, as a deputy mayor, he was fantastic, and as the mayor, he was fantastic. He just wanted to get on with the job and was always thinking long-term for the benefit of Whyalla.
“His wife Jenny, his girls and his grandchildren should be proud of him and proud of this honour.”
Mr Hughes, a former councillor colleague of Mr Pollock’s, told a few tall fishing tales involving his mentor and spoke about the friendly footy banter that would be swapped during the week as supporters of opposing teams.
He listed the other organisations that Mr Pollock had contributed to including the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association, the Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group, the Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula Rregional Development Association, the Local Government Association and Provincial Cities and Eyre Peninsula National Resource Management Board, to name a few.
“Jim was not perfect … he was a Central Whyalla supporter and the other flaw was more serious - he was a Crows supporter,” Mr Hughes joked at the ceremony.
“On a serious note, many people have approached me to talk about Jim and how they were treated by him and the picture presented is a consistent one – a down-to-earth bloke who treated everyone as an equal.
“No airs and graces, no pomp and ceremony, just a true grassroots mayor.
“You will not be forgotten and this memorial will stand her through time as testimony to the respect and esteem with which you were held.”
Mayor Breuer is on leave, but attended the ceremony as a friend of the family.
After migrating from Ireland, Mr Pollock went to school in Woomera before doing an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic.
He came Whyalla and ran a deli, worked in the insurance industry and then owned a tyre retail business.
He became a councillor in 1997 went on to be deputy mayor and was then Whyalla mayor from 2003 to 2016, the same year he sadly died.
As a measure of the esteem Jim was held in the community, the offer by the Gupta Family Group Alliance to donate the boulder was backed up with a huge voluntary effort by a group of Whyalla businesses to get this impressive monument to the city and in place at the wetlands where an information board will also be put up nearby.
The boulder was sourced from the GFG Alliance Simec-owned Southern Middleback Ranges Mining Operation at Iron Duke.
Mining contractors BGC did the heavy work at the pit to extract the rock before loading it on to a Scholz Transport truck in November last year.
Earlier this year, it was taken to the wetlands where CBCH Crane Hire lifted it off the truck and put it in place.