AFTER 22 years and one month, Phil Greagen will retire from the Port Augusta City Council on Thursday, June 22.
First elected in May 1995, Mr Greagen has seen – and played a major role in – many of the changes in the community.
“If I look all around the town, I can see things I was involved in with others,” Mr Greagen said.
The 78-year-old has collected a number of accolades during his time with the council, including his Order of Australia Medal in 2015, while also being named the Non-Aboriginal Person of the Year by the Aboriginal community in 2013.
But the man who has dedicated over a quarter of his life to serving Port Augusta was actually born in Geelong.
The devoted Geelong Cats fan arrived here in 1955, before returning to his place of birth soon after. However, Mr Greagen didn’t stay away from Port Augusta for too long.
“I got home and I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’, so I came back to Port Augusta. I met my wife in 1957 and we got married in 1958,” he said.
One of the Councillor’s fondest memories was his involvement in the construction of the Port Augusta Cemetery on Carlton Parade.
Mr Greagen said the cemetery was all done on voluntary labour, taking 10 years to complete.
“There were four of us and we transformed the Carlton Parade cemetery from the sand hills into what it is,” he said.
“We had a minimal budget of about $10,000 a year.”
The father-of-four has been a Justice of the Peace for 44 years, having also worked as Chairman of the Wami-Kata Aged Care Facility for 10 years and Secretary of the Port Augusta RSL.
Following two bouts of pneumonia in nine weeks, a broken elbow and ongoing back problems, Mr Greagen has been forced to make the difficult decision to step down from Council.
“I love Port Augusta and the people in it, I really do,” he said.
“It really hurts that I’m retiring because I feel as if I’ve let the people that voted for me down, but I can’t keep going, my health wont let me.”
Mr Greagen said things are financially tight in Port Augusta at the moment, but strongly believes the economy will come around. “Port Augusta has had some bad knocks in the past. We got over them and we’ll get over this one,” he said.
“We had the railways downturn which hurt us and we lost over 3000 people, but we survived.
“We had the Power Station and we’ve lost a lot of people, and it also hurt Quorn, Wilmington, Leigh Creek, but we will survive and pick up again.”
Mr Greagen’s last council meeting was scheduled to be on Wednesday, June 21.