Lake activist David Johnston dies at 73

PASSIONATE: The late David Johnston campaigned for the dredging of Swansea Channel. Picture: Ryan OslandHE was quite simply a Lake Macquarie legend.

Swansea resident and long-time activist David Johnston died suddenly on Monday at the age of 73.

His death comes less than a fortnight after a major milestone.

For more than a decade, Mr Johnston led a community push to have Swansea Channel properly dredged.

The NSW government announced on December 18 that a $2.5million dredging project was a success.

Son Matthew Johnston said the channel and lake was ‘‘the passion of his life’’ for a long time.

‘‘You have no idea how happy he was to see the dredging go ahead,’’ Mr Johnston said.

‘‘It was one of the proudest moments of his life.’’

He said his dad was ‘‘loved by many’’.

‘‘Everyone’s shattered,’’ he said.

‘‘He was a man who loved life, loved being with friends and family and loved sailing.’’

He didn’t mince words with politicians.

‘‘All the members for Swansea certainly knew Dad.’’

Swansea MP Garry Edwards said Mr Johnston was ‘‘a lifelong Swansea boy, extremely passionate about seeing the area go ahead’’.

‘‘In the early days of my political journey, when I was on Lake Macquarie City Council, David on a few occasions put a rocket up my botty.

‘‘He’ll be sadly missed.’’

Swansea RSL director Tony Jones said Mr Johnston was a top bloke and a good mate.

‘‘He cared about everybody and was involved in every community organisation going,’’ Mr Jones said.

‘‘When he got a cause in his bonnet, he always went with it 100per cent.’’

Mr Johnston was a builder, bricklayer, crane operator, coalminer and masseur before retirement.

He leaves behind partner Patricia, children Matthew, Troy, Anita and Trudy, along with stepchildren and grandchildren.

His funeral will be on Friday at the Salvation Army’s worship centre, Hamilton at 10am, with a wake from 12.30pm at Swansea RSL.