Lawyers may come in for some glib criticism for being too clever or being paid too much, but Ballarat lost a solicitor this week who showed what an old fashioned “pillar of the community” could be. In fact to define him by his profession would be to do Geoff Torrney a disservice. For much as many within the law would speak glowingly of him; the dozens he has mentored, the hundreds who relied on his sage advice, the thousands he has served well, it is outside the law that we begin to see how much Ballarat has lost.
The list of accolades and achievements is long and diverse. His lifelong passion for racing led to him becoming a Ballarat Turf Club life member and serve two terms as club president, as well as being a founding director of Racing Victoria.
He was a staunch man of faith and tireless contributor to the Catholic community in Ballarat. If in later years his church was going through a dark period in Ballarat, he preferred to make proof of its underlying truth by living through example. This leadership and dedication was recognised here and internationally.
He was instrumental in establishing the Australian Catholic University’s Ballarat campus and in 2011 he was awarded the university’s highest honour, Doctor of the University.
Mr Torney was a Foundation Director with the Victorian Securities Corporation and served on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000, and a Ballarat award for sports administration as well as being a Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club member for 49 years.
His contributions extend into multiple fields of Ballarat life including the business and not-for-profit sector as chair of Ballarat Regional Industries and the Ballarat Special School Council. He was also chair of The Courier Charity Fund and played a long standing role on the Community Advisory Committee. This publication owes him a great debt. All this is not even to begin to speak of what he was to his family and friends.
If he was only one man in a the community then in many ways that community was a reflection of his efforts and wisdom. There is much and many in the Ballarat community today who are directly indebted for his service. If his life is a loss to a strong and principled community, his example is a model of how unstinting contribution can continue to make Ballarat great .