By Cam Lucadou-Wells
There were laughs – with hardly a dry eye – in a 1000-strong farewell to Casey’s popular, larger-than-life mayor Mick Morland OAM.
Mr Morland, 67, who was tragically killed while crossing Princes Highway, Berwick, had a mission to make everybody happy, his wife Kay told the service at Berwick Church of Christ on 5 July.
He was a husband, father, grandfather and uncle who devoted himself to his family.
But Mr Morland’s family extended not just to genetics and blood – it extended to the diverse crowd in the church.
“This room is full to the brim with Mick’s family,” she said.
The renowned story-teller loved people, regardless of gender, race or ability. Given half the chance, he would be your best friend, she said.
“His mission was to bring laughter and joy to all he met.
“The world would be a far better place if there were more Mick Morlands.”
Ms Morland urged the gathering to keep talking about her late husband. “It keeps him alive in our hearts.”
Others noted his legacy of feats as a councillor, Liberal Party member, Rotarian, football clubman and his family’s hero. He was above all a loving example to all, Reverend Ineke Giles said.
She recounted Mr Morland’s message to a Narre Warren North Christmas service last year. He said that Christmas was about love.
“It’s about family, it’s about caring about someone in the community who has a lot less than what you have.
“It’s about giving someone a hug.
“It’s about telling your partner, children, grandchildren and your friends that you love them.”
Gary Morland – draped in a Richmond Football Club scarf – told of how his older brother and he grew up in a family of eight children in Richmond.
The household extended to 12 at times after they moved to a cement-sheeting house in then semi-rural Springvale. He and Mr Morland sometimes had to sleep head-to-toe.
Mr Morland was a senior prefect at school and an accomplished runner, golfer, footballer, cricketer and squash player, brother Gary said.
He was proud to be still the state’s 440-yard school sports record holder, noting with relish that the event’s distance changed to 400 metres the following year.
Above all, Mr Morland was a “leader of men” who had that rare quality – he could “walk with kings” but not lose the common touch.
“I always thought Mick had kind eyes and that led to a kind and compassionate heart.”
Youngest brother Tom invoked the words of inspirational MND campaigner Neale Daniher, who said: “It’s not what you say but what you do.”
Mr Morland was “a doer with a capital ‘D’,” Tom said.
His grand-kids shared tributes. Their ‘Pa’ was loved for his tickling moustache-kisses, his jokes and play.
Rotary past district governor Tim Moore paid respect to Mr Morland’s tireless efforts for the service club, including hosting seven international exchange students.
One Greenland student still regularly received birthday and Christmas cards from her Australian ‘family’, and got into banter with Mr Morland over whose country was the largest island in the world.
Mr Morland was the self-declared world president of the Society Of Deserted Spouses (SODS) that convened for a barbecue while their wives were at an Inner Wheel meeting, Mr Moore said.
“We’re all lucky for having a friend like Mick Morland in our lives.”
Casey Demons Football Club board member Colin Butler outlined Mr Morland’s life-long involvement with football, including a premiership with Beaconsfield in 1974.
At Narre Warren Junior Football Club, he was also an administrator of the decade and coach of future AFL stars such as Brendan Fevola, Trent Croad, Chris Newman and Matty Boyd.
Mr Butler, when elected to council, appreciated the advice from Mr Morland to understand the issues and vote how his community would want him to vote.
“He was an absolutely wonderful man, an icon of City of Casey and a very good friend of mine.”
Casey chief executive Mike Tyler told of how Mr Morland was his greatest supporter at the council table, as well as a champion of sports, the environment, transport and waste management.
Mr Morland’s OAM for service to local government and the community said it all, Mr Tyler said.
South East Metropolitan MP Inga Peulich said Mr Morland always acted for the best of the community, reluctant to “sink the boot” into befriended political rivals.
She also read a warm tribute from Opposition Matthew Guy that noted Mr Morland was a loyal person, good bloke and community servant.
At the end, Mr Morland’s coffin draped with a Tigers scarf was carried out to the rousing anthem of his beloved Richmond Football Club.
He would surely have approved as some in the crowd joined in the song’s refrain: “Yellow and Black”.