COOKTOWN is in mourning and the media and football fraternities have lost one of their staunchest supporters with the passing of well-known New Cooktown Independent publisher Gary Hutchison.
Gary moved to Cooktown in 2013 to be the editor of the now defunct Cooktown Local News.
The former police officer was a regular at most local events, covering sports, social occasions and other news across the region.
Longtime friend Sergeant Matt Dux, officer in charge at Blackwater Police Station, dedicated a charity football match on Saturday night to his former coach.
“The game will have extra significance and my thoughts will be with (his family) as I strap on the boots tonight for one last run,” Sergeant Dux said.
“I first met Hutchy when I was 13 and he coached my footy team, the Burpengary Jets.
“Hopes and dreams don’t become a reality without believing and Hutchy always believed in me.
“It’s no accident I would achieve all my dreams not just on the sporting field but in life and followed a similar career as the big man, in footy and then becoming a police officer.
“I’m forever grateful he took the time to mentor me.
“Forever in my heart, rest in peace Hutchy.”
Gary served as a police officer from 1973 to 1989, and was also heavily involved in rugby league, playing under now super-coach Wayne Bennett in Bennett’s first ever team at the Queensland Police Academy, before moving to coaching and as a strapper for the NSW State of Origin team in the 90s.
Son-in-law Steve Hooper and rugby league great Mal Meninga, currently at the World Cup in England, both wore black armbands in tribute over the weekend.
Daughter Stacy Hooper said her father had always wanted to be a journalist, but his guidance officer and parents thought the police was a more fitting career.
“It was in his 50s that he got to fulfil his dream, and Cooktown was a huge part of that,” Ms Hooper said.
“We’re eternally grateful to the town who welcomed him and Marily who cared so much for him.”
Cook Shire mayor Peter Scott said Gary would be remembered as a good-hearted and dedicated bloke.
“He was totally dedicated as a journalist, editor and producer of the paper, and we will be sad to lose our little local paper,” Cr Scott said on Monday.
“It is a testament to Gary that he kept the paper running weekly even with his failing health, making sure the local people had a Cooktown news source.
“He was a really good-hearted bloke and will be sorely missed.”
Gary passed away peacefully in Cairns with his wife, son and daughter by his side.
He is survived by his wife Marily, sister Janet, children Gareth and Stacy, son-in-law Steve, daughter-in-law Braide and grandchildren Trinity, Max, Nate and Zoe.