Western Queensland is heartbroken following the passing of one of its favourite sons, Graham ‘Butch’ Lenton, last week. Butch was a man of great integrity, honesty and humility. He was proud of Winton and passionate about Western Queensland. Well over a thousand people descended on Winton on Monday to pay tribute to Butch, who was one of Queensland’s finest.
Whether you spent five minutes or five days with him, you could not help but be captivated by his kindness and extraordinary vision for Western Queensland. The calibre of this man was undeniable.
The Winton town hall farewelled a man who embodied the town of Winton. The Minister for Main Roads and the member for Mount Isa were there with me as well. Butch’s incredible contribution has changed Queensland and the west for the better. From his early years as president of the Winton Devils Rugby League Club and then fulfilling roles with Central West Rugby League and Queensland Rugby League—he was president of the Winton Devils for over 20 years—his passion for the game has left a deep and enduring mark on the sport. He mentored so many young players—not just to be good players but also to be good men, to take pride and be involved in their local community and to respect their fellow man.
His commitment to small business, including his own business Central Motors—which his family owned for several generations—gave local small business owners confidence and passion to succeed. Winton is one of the best towns in the west, and I believe that reputation was largely inspired by Butch’s love for his community and for his people.
Butch was well known for his service to local government—as a councillor and a mayor in the Winton shire. From his start in the mid-nineties, he exhibited exemplary leadership. Butch will be best remembered for the infrastructure projects he brought to life. You only have to look at the magnificent, world-class Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton and the reconstruction of the Waltzing Matilda Centre to understand the vision he had for his community. Nothing was going to get in his way and that is what made Butch the man we all respected and admired so much. In fact, when the Waltzing Matilda Centre burnt down Butch said, ‘We’re going to make this bigger and we’re going to make this better than anybody else.’ If you go out to Winton around April, you will see this magnificent monument to Waltzing Matilda, which has such a proud history. The man who put that together, the man who drove that project, was Butch Lenton.
To his lovely wife, Ros; his daughter, Carly; and Butch’s extended family: our hearts go out to you during this time of incredible sadness. Queensland has lost a true gentleman. We are all the better for knowing him and, rest assured, Butch’s memory and legacy will live forever. I had the privilege of seeing Butch just two weeks ago in his house. Despite knowing that his time was coming close, he still had optimism for Winton and for the central west and still had a laugh. Butch, may you rest in peace, old mate.