A Diamond who sparkled through life
THERE were few people living who could tell as many tales of old Tugun ? how it was when the railway ran through the town, how the place was awash with flood in the 1920s, and the wild boronia flourished on the hills while at sea the fish seemed to be waiting to be caught ? than its own old boy, Harry Diamond.
Now his extended family, his surviving mates, are remembering Harry who died after a long illness last Friday at the age of 88.
On Tuesday at St Monica's Catholic Church at Tugun, hundreds joined his grieving widow Betty and their sons, daughters and grandchildren to celebrate Harry's life and say farewell.
King Neptune to his mates, Mr Diamond spent the last months of his life at the Mermaid Beach Tri Care Nursing Centre.
Mrs Diamond, who stepped down from her role as Gold Coast deputy mayor in 1988 to care for her even then ailing husband, said the past few years had been difficult for Harry.
"Like his name, he was strong, unbreakable and came through several crises. He had a determination to get better. Now it is so hard to think he could fight no more. He was my staff for so long, a wonderful husband and friend," she said.
Harry was a kid when his parents, Paddy and Annie Diamond, moved from their hotel at Nanango to manage the Sea Side Hotel at Tugun.
He was 11 and in later life often spoke with a kind of boyish pride how he scarmbled high up on the Tugun hillside to the scrub where the wild beronia grew.
He sold it for threepence a bunch.
He was recently a patient at John Flynn Hospital and his window looked out on that boronia hillside.
"I remembered those young days so well," he said.
As a boy he was pretty good at worming Tugun beach. He sold a packet for sixpence.
Young Harry was a pupil of the sisters at St Augustine's Catholic Church which dominated the Coolangatta skyline.
He was an altar boy and often accompanied the priest to the Dolan Farm in Currumbin Valley when Mass was said.
Harry Diamond's career as one of Queensland's most successful hoteliers began at Tugun when he helped his mother manage the Sea Side when his father died.
When WWII was declared, he joined the RAAF and served for four and a half years.
Then when peace came he embarked on a business career, buying stores at Tugun and two hotels, the first at Killarney and then the popular Tattersalls at Toowoomba.
It was there that Harry met Betty which resulted in a union of 42 years, a loving partnership, a marriage destined to last "without a cross word between us", as Betty said.
In 1966 the couple returned to Harry's old home town where he became the very jovial and attentive host of the Tugun Hotel.
He built their home, Diamond Place, a few steps away and as close to the beach as permitted.
In retirement he became a hobby fisherman who knew all the tricks of coming home with a bagful.
He took his mates out to sea in his boat the Betty-Dee and shared the catch with friends.
He gave credit to beach worms which he called the best bait in the world.
When Betty made her successful bid for council there was no more ardent supporter than Harry.
He was her number one admirer.
His pride in her was unstinting.
She meant everything to Harry.
So it was when his health began to fail she gave up a local government career without a second thought.
A real kid on the block, fisherman, mine host, local historian, devoted husband and father and grand-dad, Harry Diamond was one of the last of his generation at Tugun ? a real gentleman, one of nature's best.