NOOSA – The death on Wednesday night of esteemed Lae businessman Alan McLay so soon after the death of Highlands icon Terry Shelley has deepened the sadness of the Papua New Guinean community.
Alan John McLay, 72, president of the Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry died at Angau Memorial Hospital. He came to Papua New Guinea as a cadet patrol officer in 1964 and was posted to Pomio in East New Britain.
The Victorian-born McLay later worked as a kiap in Wakunai, Kerowagi, Sinasina and Madang, remaining in PNG after independence to become Deputy Commissioner of Morobe Province from 1981-85 under Commissioner Sir Jerry Nalau, with whom he formed a close friendship.
His wife Nellie said McLay became ill in late October but they decided not to go overseas for treatment. “I made the decision for him to seek medication here because he could not walk properly and was not strong enough to go abroad for medical treatment,” Ms McLay said.
Sir Jerry said McLay had been his brother for more than 40 years. “We have been working together and I used to call him my white brother,” he said.
McLay served as Australia’s honorary consul in Lae from 2013-17 and subsequently as a consular warden.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis said he had provided outstanding service as a representative of the Australian Government. “As president of the Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr McLay made a significant contribution to the expansion of economic, trade and investment ties between the two countries,” Davis said.
“During the annual Australia Week program of activities, Mr McLay played a central role through organising highly successful events in Lae. Mr McLay’s passing was a significant loss for PNG and Australia and he will be greatly missed.”
Mr McLay is survived by Nellie,his son Alistair and his daughter Kathryn.