Former Cockburn Mayor, Ray Lees, remembered at his funeral at Fremantle Cemetary

Former mayor the late Ray Lees.
Former mayor the late Ray Lees.

FORMER Cockburn Mayor Ray Lees has been remembered as a selfless and hardworking family man who always made time for others.

More than 330 family members, friends and colleagues paid tribute at Fremantle Cemetery during a funeral service last week.

One of many to speak highly of Mr Lees and his many contributions to the community was Fremantle MP Melissa Parke.

‘He was a man of great integrity, decency, energy and community spirit who played a significant role in shaping the City of Cockburn and who dedicated considerable energy to public service and the interests of working men and women,’ she said.

‘I know that Ray’s contribution to his municipality through three decades of service is widely recognised and valued by the community he served with such heart, hard work and dignity.’

Mr Lees’ relationship with the area began with his birth at Hillcrest Hospital in North Fremantle on December 11, 1928.

Growing up in South Fremantle, he left school at 14 to deliver ice by horse and cart before falsifying his age to join a Norwegian ship delivering supplies to troops.

When the war ended in 1945 he moved to Melbourne, but it was not long before homesickness drew him back to Perth.

Back in WA, Mr Lees met his future wife, Rose Santich, at the Perth Royal Show with an offer of a ride on the Ferris wheel. The pair was married at Fremantle’s St John’s Church in late 1948.

Together they bought a half-acre block in Hamilton Hill, later moving to Sayer Road on the border of Wattleup in 1967.

Mr Lees had many jobs in his time, but his contribution to Cockburn Council is where he left his mark. He was elected councillor of the South ward in 1972 before succeeding Don de san Miguel as the City’s second Mayor in 1993.

He opened the Kwinana Freeway extension through Cockburn, and helped develop the South Coogee and Jandakot bush fire brigades.

In 1995 he was named a Freeman of the City, the council’s highest honour. ‘He always had time for other people,’ current Mayor Logan Howled recalled.

Mr Lees continued to work on his Hope Valley market garden until February this year when his health began to decline. He died on October 15 from heart problems.

He is survived by children Glenda and Alan, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Mr Lees was 85.