May 23rd 2009
Vale: Pierre Henri le Grand (1943 - 2009)
Earlier this month a man who left an permanent and indelible legacy in the heart of the Magnetic Island community and many other parts of Australia passed away. Pierre (Peter) le Grand is remembered for many achievements and, with the assistance of his widow, Linda Wootten, Magnetic Times has put together this article for Peter which we hope other readers who knew him will add to with their comments.
Peter made some very important contributions to the wider Australian society with a particular passion for the arts, social justice and the environment.
Many who knew Peter may not be aware of his French & Nederlander heritage and for somebody who was dubbed, Mr le Thesaurus, due to renowned vocabulary, it is worth noting that he arrived in Australia at the age of 6 without a word of English.
Linda Wootten told Magnetic Times, "He worked hard to be accepted and didn't like anyone, but me, to call him Pierre. It was dangerous to be called Pierre in 1950s Australia. Things haven't changed much as his nephew Jean-Pierre, named for Pierre, has the same problem and is known as JP.
"Pierre made sure his English language skills increased and went to Uni of Sydney to study Fine Arts with one major being English. He also studied Architecture (Sydney) and Industrial design (Adelaide) as well as Psychiatric Nursing (Townsville).
"Peter's immigrant experience was similar to that of Alice Domelow, having arrived in Australia from a Netherlands background at the age of 6. Pierre was born in Arnhem in 1943.
"The difference was that his father was of French background and Pierre identified with his French Huguenot grandfather who was also Pierre Henri le Grand. Peter and his mother lived with his French grandfather and then his Nederlander great aunt and uncle (on a farm) to survive the war.
"His father Henri le Grand was a Master Potter and has pots in the national collection. His mother, also a potter, started the first private Art Gallery in Canberra, called 'Noondah', local Aboriginal word for North. Peter was co-founder of Narek Gallery, with his first wife Karen Beaver.
Mike Reynolds, former Mayor of Townsville, State Member for Townsville, Minister and Speaker was Peter's employer since 1995 until Peter retired last year.
Mike Reynolds told Magnetic Times, "Peter was a great inspiration to me. His strength and philosophical commitment to environmental sustainability and social justice for indigenous people was extraordinarily valuable in campaigns for me as both Member for Townsville and as a Minister.
"Peter had an amazing ability to empathise with people who required assistance or advocacy and the important part of his relationship with me as a politician was his ability to work collaboratively to seek good solutions for people.
"I especially want to recognise his extensive knowledge and skills in working with indigenous people. Work he did with me on injustice on Palm Island and generally with indigenous issues at a local state and federal level was phenomenal.
"Peter will be remembered by national and state indigenous leaders as someone who fought with them in their struggle and will long be remembered by them as someone held in great esteem.
"Peter was also very well known for his battles on Magnetic Island over the last two decades and, typically, he was fighting up to the weeks before he died - still writing to Ministers over World Heritage and seeking to quickly resolve Unallocated State Land (issues) on Magnetic Island
"Peter was a person I held very dearly. He was a special mate of mine."
Peter's best known legacy to the Magnetic Island community was, to many, his role in establishing Magnetic Island Community Care (MICC) an Island organisation which provides a wide range of services (including the much loved Tuesday Club) to elderly Islanders supporting their capacity to continue living in their homes and, importantly, to remain on the Island.
Mr Phil Landon, President of Magnetic Island Community Care (MICC) told Magnetic Times, "It was through Peter's intellect and strong feelings for the local community and vision to see the need for something for the older community that drove it (MICC) into existence.
"His attention to detail, drafting the rules and getting it registered as an incorporated body was very significant and led to him becoming MICC's first president.
"He had such a strong belief this was needed and he had the guts and determination to make it happen and, after leaving, he supported the Association with good advice when necessary.
"He was generous to a fault - always helping people out. He spoke much sense and was all round a solid citizen, a lovely bloke and busy as a bastard."
For the record, an brief outline of some of Peter's achievements follows:
Master Craftsman - Recycled timber with a passion for octagons -
Derailed and Talented Timber
Founding member of the Arts Council, ACT
Designer - Architectural, commercial, industrial and anything in timber
Person with a passion for language, design, architecture and archaeology
Advocate for the rights of motorcyclists through Road Safety Council and Australian Touring Motorcyclists Assoc.
Founding member of Magnetic Island Arts Coop
Founding member of Magnetic Island Nature Care (MINCA)
Founding President of MICC's Mates (MI Community Care Assoc)
Member of the Infrastructure sub-committee for MI Community Development Assoc Inc
Ministerial adviser to Hon Mike Reynolds MP - portfolios: Emergency Services and Child Safety
Advocate for respect, honour and justice for the Traditional owners of this land, which we are privileged to inhabit.
Honoured to be accepted as a friend by the resilient and much beloved people of Palm Island.
Advocate for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat on Magnetic Island.
Peter was the much beloved husband of Linda Wootten, who has shared his life for 33 years. Son of Henri le Grand and Hendrika le Grand Rademaker (Potters) Brother of Christine, Harry, Michael and Marietta Uncle to Ariane, Cameron, Matthew, Louisa, Robert, Cal, Tash and JP.
Born 19 September 1943 (Arnhem, Netherlands) Died 12 May 2009 (Magnetic Island, Australia).
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