Town farewells beloved publican and great friend
TO THE croon of Frank Sinatra's My Way and the taste of cold tap beer, one of Chinchilla's true gentlemen was farewelled from the suitable setting of the Club Hotel verandah on Saturday.
Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to Justin Byrne as the popular publican's coffin was paused at the Club for "one final count" following his celebration of life service.
That certainly won't be the last time a glass is raised in Justin's honour, such was the high regard and admiration clearly held by those who came together for his final farewell.
At the Club and Commercial Hotels, Justin and his parents, Mike and Barbara, established terrific social venues in Chinchilla during a period of monumental change and progress in the town.
The Byrnes' success in the hospitality industry in the decades before they arrived was highlighted at the funeral by Justin's close friend from school, Scott Rowe, and his mentor, John Miller.
The family originally owned the pub on Thursday Island in the late 1970s, during which time Justin attended boarding school at Brisbane's Anglican Church Grammar School.
Soon after graduating in 1987, Justin's career of hard work and friendly, generous pub service began.
By 22 he was managing the family-owned Broadbeach Tavern, before the family moved on to the Glenmore Tavern in Rockhampton, then the Highfields Tavern in Toowoomba.
Eventually, in 2010, the Byrnes purchased the Club and Commercial Hotels.
Justin's commitment to Chinchilla and this trade saw him employ countless locals and newcomers over the years - not just through food and beverage, but also through maintenance and major refurbishments at the two hotels.
It was revealed at the funeral that on his deathbed, Justin was still expressing his gratitude to those in the community who played a part in helping the Club and Commercial survive and recover from the disastrous floods of 2010 and 2011 that threatened to bring the businesses to their knees.
He was passionate about his work, but Justin's great love in Chinchilla was his wife Emily.
The couple married six months before Justin lost his battle with cancer aged 48.
Those who attended his funeral heard his wedding day was the happiest he'd appeared since the birth of his daughter, Bronte, now 12.
Justin's family will forever miss their loving husband, father, brother and son.
Chinchilla locals will forever miss the warm greeting and friendly conversation he always offered at the local pubs.
This tribute was written by former Chinchilla News journalist, Harry Clarke.