Farmer’s legacy to save lives

Brad ThompsonCountryman

The amazing legacy of a Kojonup farmer will save lives, help to restore sight and ease the suffering of WA children battling disease and illness.

George Church died aged 96 and his dying wish was for his estate, including his historic farm on the outskirts of the Great Southern town, to go to charity.

The farm sold at auction in February for $2.55 million, with the money going to Telethon, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Lions Eye Institute.

The remainder of his estate is expected to produce a similar windfall for some of WA’s most worthy charities.

This is on top of $500,000 Mr Church donated towards building a medical centre in Kojonup in 2014.

The generosity of the World War II veteran and that of his wife Patricia, who died in 2013, has touched many lives over decades, according to locals.

Long-time family friend Glenys Russell said the couple made big donations to community groups and charities.

“They were always giving and supporting local communities,” she said. “They did it very quietly.”

Mrs Russell said Mr Church had wanted his estate to go to the RFDS because Kojonup depended on it, to the Lions Eye Institute because he had battled macular degeneration and to Telethon because he loved children.

“They didn’t have children but loved kids,” she said.

Mr Church made his fortune farming. He was a keen sheep trader and regular at the Katanning sales until the last two years of his life.

It was his involvement in a generous land swap that provided the site for Kojonup District High School’s farm.

Mr Church’s farm was founded by his mother’s family, the Norrishes, in 1878.

The recent auction by Elders marked the first time the farm, known as Korrinup, had been offered for sale. It was snapped up by a local buyer after strong bidding.

Kojonup Shire deputy president Robert Sexton said Mr Church saw human nature at its worst while serving in New Guinea, but did not harbour any bitterness.

“He just had a generous spirit,” Mr Sexton said.

“He was a larrikin as well and liked to play practical jokes. They (George and Patricia) were great participators in life. They were never spectators.”

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