Moorabool Council and community is mourning the death of long-term councillor Pat Toohey, who passed away early Wednesday.
Mr Toohey had been on council for 15 years and served twice as mayor but in recent months, while receiving medical treatment, had been unable to attend council meetings and events.
Moorabool mayor Paul Tatchell, who has known Cr Toohey since they attended school together at St Patrick's College in Ballarat, said his fellow councillor would be missed throughout the community.
"Whenever you lose someone local it's a tragedy, but when you lose a local leader its impact threads its way through the community," he said.
The pair were reunited when Cr Tatchell moved to Moorabool about 28 years ago.
"Since then we'd been in touch through common interests - football and council - and because Pat was a very big local character," he said.
Cr Toohey was renowned as a passionate supporter of agriculture in the Moorabool and western Victorian region.
"He was very passionate about water and making sure we were sensible about water compared to the Murray Darling region. He's always been our spokesperson for water," Mr Tatchell said.
"And he was passionate about people's rights ... he believed everyone is entitled to express their views and worked very widely to make sure people could do that, to open forums up to allow anyone to speak.
"He was very well known and popular ... and his death is a loss to the council and the whole community."
During his 15 years on council, Cr Toohey served on many committees including the Greendale Recreation Reserve Committee of Management, Concerned Councils for the Moorabool River Flows and Environment, Rural Councils Victoria, the Economic Development Taskforce Advisory Committee, Municipal Association of Victoria's Windfarm Working Group, the Western Highway Action Committee, the Section 86 Rural Growth Committee and the Rural Advisory Committee.
Deputy major Cr John Keogh said Cr Toohey, the Woodlands ward councillor since 2004, would be dearly missed. "We extend our deepest sympathy to Pat's wife Loretta and their family," he said.
A condolence book has been set up at Moorabool Council's Ballan office.
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