By Shane Scanlan
Melbourne turned out to honour the memory and celebrate the life of Don Parsons on May 17.
Some had the privilege of speaking publicly about the man they are now calling the “King of Collins St”.
For others, the reflections were personal. They were about the small, non-random acts of kindness and assistance that Don provided to them.
Kiosk operator Peter Kennedy was one such person who came to pay his respects at Scots Church.
The day before he died suddenly at home on Saturday, April 22, Don had phoned Peter with some good news. Sure enough, on the Monday, a letter from the City of Melbourne arrived confirming some assistance that Don had advocated for on his behalf.
The collective effect of such selfless acts over decades, coupled with his gentlemanly ways, have elevated him to legend status.
Current Collins Street Precinct president Mary Poulakis said after the service she was determined to honour Don’s memory with a renewed effort to inspire civic pride in Marvellous Melbourne.
“I think we should buy brooms for all the shops so the footpaths can be swept every morning,” she told CBD News.
Speaking at the service, Ms Poulakis said: “Don was a statesman. He was wise, respected and respectful. He was the King of Collins St. He was a walking, talking ambassador for Melbourne.”
“Don – our colleague, our friend – we are committed to continuing your work. Thank you for inspiring us. May you rest in peace.”
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle spoke fondly of Don’s immaculate and impeccable ways.
“A normal meeting for me with a constituent in my office would last maybe 20 minutes with a cup of tea or a glass of water. When you met with Don, it was in a private room at the Athenaeum for lunch with a printed agenda and menu – both of which he went through meticulously from the first to the last,” Cr Doyle said.
“I first got to know Don when I was first mayor of Melbourne and I would be sitting in the council chamber and I would look up at the public galleries and there were these two ‘Muppet-like’ figures – Peter Nicholas and Don Parsons – who would be hunched together, peering over the top at these curious proceedings with minor amusement.”
“I declared them Waldorf and Statler. To their credit, Don and Peter took that as a badge of honour.”
“He was immaculate. He always presented well, just as he wanted his city to present well. There were dinners, fashion parades, social engagements where he was, as we all know, the glue – the glue of a great community that he held together.”
Don’s niece Alisa Parker told the crowd what they already knew – that he had the patience and the heart of a saint.
“He genuinely saw magic and he sought to spread it,” she said. “He wasn’t driven by ego. He just wanted to make a positive difference where ever he went.”