Tributes poured in on Monday after news broke that former Illawarra Mercury editor and general manager and former Illawarra Steelers chairman Peter Newell had died in the early hours of the morning.
Following an obituary about his life and enormous contribution written by another former Illawarra Mercury editor Nick Hartgerink, friends, politicians and business leaders all described him as a fierce advocate for the region who always championed what was important for the community.
Long time friend and former colleague Janine Cullen OAM said:
"Peter has always been integral and a very important part of our Cullen family. I have never known of any greater friendship between two people than Peter and my late husband Peter (Cullen). They worked together, punted together, drank together and most importantly laughed together. Their special bond was immeasurable. Peter's passing is certainly an end of an era. He has been one of the most honest, honourable and decent man I have ever known. And boy could he tell a good joke. He will be greatly missed by his beautiful family, friends and the community at large."
Steelers Club general manager Sharon Arrow
Peter came to see me at the SCG in May 2017 and persuaded me to take on a role managing a little club in Wollongong called Steelers.
It was the best decision of my life.
Thank you Peter for the support, guidance, mentoring, laughter and endless stories.
Your battle has inspired us to never back down and never give up.
The staff here are devastated.
Our club, rugby league and the region are indebted to you, you have left an amazing legacy. It will never be the same.
Illawarra Turf Club chief executive officer Peter De Vries
Peter Newell was a member of the board of the Illawarra Turf Club in 2001 and 2002.
But the major thing the racing industry would say about Peter is that he and Peter Cullen were responsible for making the Illawarra Mercury the most sought after racing newspaper in NSW if not Australia.
It wasn't unusual for people in other areas to insist their newsagents carry the Mercury because of the form guide they produced in it.
Peter Newell was a great devotee of horse racing and the yarns he told, and the poems he often quoted had many references to the racing industry in them.
He will be sorely missed by not only the football family but also by all of us in the racing family, personally.
Former Minister for Hospitality, Licensing, Gaming and Racing George Souris
Peter Newell was an old style maverick fighter for the causes he believed in.
None less than the Clubs movement of which, in Clubs NSW, he became its chairman during perhaps its most difficult period. Under assault from the NSW Government over gaming taxes and then later from the Federal sphere a number of measures by those with balances of power in the Senate, Peter came to the fore.
First of all he negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW Coalition whilst it was in Opposition. The MoU was signed at the Clubs annual conference on the 10th of the 10th month 2010; not long before the general election of 2011 which saw the O'Farrell government in power.
I was the Minister for licensing, gaming and racing through Opposition and into government.
I can attest the dealings I had with Peter Newell were honest and forthright and his word was his bond before during and especially after the election when it was implementation time.
He created a "contract" which guided both the government and the Clubs movement and the benefits for the industry was in the billions of dollars.
The agreement Peter forged back in 2010 has been refreshed by successive government and in one form or another is still in force today.
Judy Newell was by his side for most of it and was a gracious host whenever clubs were on display whether it was at the annual showcase awards event or club-by-club.
In all my 27 years in Parliament, Peter Newell was the best industry leader I ever had to deal with; as I said honesty and integrity were his hallmark.
In my view his best performance was at a National Press Club in Canberra when he told a particularly eager reporter that when he had some skin in the clubs game, as he did, he might understand the passion and affection in which it is held.
He has left the Clubs movement in infinitely better shape to face the challenges ahead.
And I am proud to have had Peter Newell as a friend.
Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird
The Illawarra community has suffered a great loss with the passing of Peter Newell.
Peter was well known and loved through his many roles with the Illawarra Mercury, the Illawarra Steelers, the St George Illawarra Dragons, ClubsNSW and many community and fundraising campaigns.
On behalf of our community I offer my sincere condolences to his wife Judy, his children and grandchildren and thank them for sharing him with us.
Federal Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones
A big man who will leave a big gap with his departure. A tough, passionate newspaper man, who said it as he saw it. On leaving the Mercury he threw himself into community activity and sport with the Steelers Club and ClubsNSW.
I loved dealing with Peter, even when we were on there opposite side of an argument. He was passionate straight up and had a wry sense of humour.
A great loss to the Newell family and the community.
NSW Member for Keira Ryan Park
Peter Newell was more than just a newspaper man.
He was a fierce advocate for the community that I have been lucky enough to call my home for the last 40 odd years.
I grew up reading the newspaper and my dad has been a subscriber for such a long time.
Peter was just instrumental in putting the Illawarra on the map both in terms of where we are and our place in NSW and Australia. But also in advocating to governments of all polticial pursuasions that we deserve our fair share.
He was a tireless advocate for the things that mattered.
I know the story around Mount Ousley. His work on the road is legendary as was his work on making sure we had a national footy team in the competition.
Peter championed issues there were important to our community. And I think he made the Illawarra Mercury a really fierce advocate for its region.
I think the role he played in shaping that newspaper has stood the test of time. And that has helped the Mercury continue to survive and thrive in difficult times.
NSW Member for Wollongong Paul Scully
Peter's life covered everything from the front page to the back page - advocating and driving community campaigns, working to support the clubs industry and advocating for the Illawarra's inclusion, through the Steelers, in the Sydney rugby league competition.
A considerable contribution over many years to helping make Wollongong what it is today.
International Women's Day chair and Waples Marketing Group executive director Vicki Tiegs.
The first time I encountered Peter Newell was when I attended a retirement dinner for a local dignitary when I arrived in Wollongong in the mid 90s.
Peter had written one of his famous poems and took to the stage to deliver it with great gusto.
The poem was funny, poignant and beautifully written.
Peter held the audience in the palm of his hand and the room erupted when he finished.
I formally met Peter a few weeks later and for more than two decades have had the great privilege of knowing him and his beloved Judy or Teddy Teapot as he called her.
As busy as he was, he always took my calls and was always there for advice, support and a laugh.
I enjoyed his storytelling with that deep voice and the great laugh that always followed one of the funnier exploits he shared.
Peter Newell was one of a kind. The Illawarra has lost one of its leading lights, a passionate rugby league man, astute media operator and someone who always wanted the best for his region.
He was a larrikin, great wordsmith, a friend to many.
RIP Newelly. You made the world a better place and we will miss you.
WIN Sports and Entertainment Centres Venue manager Marc Swan
"We were saddened to learn of the passing of Peter Newell. Peter was extremely passionate and dedicated to the Illawarra region. His contribution to rugby league community has benefited the region and WIN Stadium over the years. He will be greatly missed.
All the staff at WIN Sports and Entertainment Centres and Venues NSW send our deepest condolences to the Newell family and his friends."