We are saddened to report that industry figure, Michael Coffey, passed away earlier this year aged 79.
There have been a very great many tragic aspects of the COVID pandemic, one of which has been the limitations on funerals and so the Coffey family thought it appropriate not to broadcast the news of his passing too widely at the time.
Since then, Shipping Australia has been in touch with Michael’s family, and we are honoured to publish a short piece commemorating his life.
Father, businessman, golfer
A father of three, a keen golfer and a successful businessman, Michael Coffey OAM is remembered for his contributions to the community throughout his life. This service was recognised in the Australia Day Honours in 2015, where he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to business and to the community.
“It was a nice surprise,” he told the Fairfield City Champion at the time of the OAM. “I’m staggered. You see the kinds of people who are given this award and it’s really quite humbling.”
Michael was a Lansvale resident, having grown up in Pymble in Sydney’s leafy north shore. He attended St Pius School in Chatswood and gained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW.
Michael’s impact began early in his career. He was a key member of the CSIRO team that revolutionised food preservation and transport through containerisation. He was then invited to join the company that would be become P&O Containers.
He played a significant role in developing Australia’s trade relations with the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. He also led Australian trade missions to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan and Iran in the early days of Australia’s trade development with those countries.
“He so thoroughly enjoyed his involvement in the shipping industry, and we attended the dinners for Lloyd’s List DCN awards,” his wife Trudy, told Shipping Australia.
Community and volunteer work
Michael was also keen to contribute to the community and worked and volunteered o a wide range of centres, clubs, and institutes.
He became honorary chairman of Karitane Mothercraft Society after becoming a board member in 1998 and was also a board director at Carrington Centennial Care as well as Liverpool Catholic Club. Mr Coffey was also a former national president of the Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as a board member of the Liverpool West Rotary Club, the Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies and the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies. He maintained a Fellowship of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
“Michael was a skilled and dedicated President of the Liverpool Catholic Club who was thoughtful to the concerns and needs of all the members, staff and extended club communities. He will be very sadly missed by all,” said club president Greg Richardson.
Recognition in the NSW State Parliament
The NSW State Parliament made a community recognition statement in mid-February of this year, following Michael’s passing. It recognised his extensive community work and career. Paul Lynch MP, member for Liverpool, added that: “he was also, in my experience, a genuinely good and decent man. He will be sorely missed”.
Michael is survived by his wife of 54 years, Trudy, who is the Director of Social Work of South West Sydney Local Health Network and the Social Work Manager at Liverpool Hospital. he also leaves behind three children and seven grandchildren.