FORMER Shellharbour mayor David Hamilton has been described by his colleagues as an "honourable, decent bloke" and a strong-minded person.
The staunch Labor man and passionate trade unionist died at his Oak Flats home last Saturday, aged 67, after battling leukaemia for several months. Mr Hamilton was born in Scotland and spent several years living in the Illawarra before permanently migrating in 1980.
His 20-year tenure as a machine operator at the Port Kembla steelworks sparked his interest in unionism and he quickly became a delegate for his trade union. He became a local union official, later taking on a state secretary role. Mr Hamilton was elected to Shellharbour City Council in 1991.
He served as deputy mayor from 1996-99, before being elected mayor in 2004. His reign ended when the council was sacked in 2008, following a public inquiry.
Former Kiama MP and ex-Shellharbour mayor Bob Harrison knew Mr Hamilton for more than 30 years, nominating him for life membership of the ALP several years ago.
"He just impressed me as an honourable, decent bloke," he said. "He was a man of his word. If he gave you his word that he'd do something, he did it. In politics, that's a very worthy trait."
Current Labor mayor Marianne Saliba praised him as a man who called a spade a spade, and made decisions not because they were popular, but because he believed they were right.
Mr Hamilton is survived by his wife, Moira, daughters Yvonne and Louise, son Stephen and four grandchildren. His funeral will take place on Thursday at Hansen and Cole.