Community pays respect to garden guru Stan Maley

Edward ScownMidwest Times
Stan Maley at the completion of the demonstration garden at Maitland Park.
Camera IconStan Maley at the completion of the demonstration garden at Maitland Park. Credit: Facebook/RegionalHUB

The Maley name has been in the Geraldton area since the very beginning, and this week the community has paid tribute to one in a long line of Maleys who made his mark on this region.

Stan Maley passed away peacefully in his sleep Saturday night aged 83, after a battle with brain and liver cancer.

Mr Maley’s daughter Terri Chant spoke of him as a “wonderful father and grandfather” who gave his all to his community.

“We’re grateful to have had him,” she said.

A prolific gardener, Mr Maley wrote a regular column for the Midwest Times, called Garden of Life, documenting backyard gardens around Geraldton as well as cultivating a wide range of plants in his own garden, and later the Geraldton community garden.

His main project over the past seven years has been the development of the Maitland Park Botanical Gardens project, which has already seen parts of the park transformed with a wide variety of native plants. The plan led to the formation of the Friends of Geraldton Gardens, which has grown to a group of more than 40 people dedicated to carrying out Mr Maley’s plan.

Irene Ghannage is a founding member of FrOGGs, and now leads the group as they strive to complete the garden. She said Mr Maley’s enthusiasm was unwavering, even as his health declined.

“He was a great bloke. Funny, intelligent, a real gentleman, just full of life. Everything you’d want to be,” she said.

“His energy for the project, from the start right up until his dying days was intense.”

She said the outpouring of support from the community for the garden in recent days had been emblematic of the man he was.

“He was a cross-generational kind of guy who moved in all circles and connected with all types. He was a spirit that moved through life trying to make good changes.”

Many paying tribute on social media have suggested a section of the garden be named after Mr Maley.

“I’m not sure he would have wanted that,” Ms Ghannage said.

“It was something we talked about, and he always said no. But I think that was just him being humble.

“We’re thinking we’ll put in a plaque, just a little memorial in there for him.”

A marker of his humility, Ray Morton said he had had no clue the garden was Mr Maley’s idea until a few weeks ago — despite being friends for more than 20 years. He said Mr Maley’s enthusiasm for the project was the same as anything else he worked on.

“If he was interested in something, he was very enthusiastic. Didn’t matter what it was,” Mr Morton said.

“His death has surprised me, and it shouldn’t have.”

Mayor Shane Van Styn is one of those who would like to see the entire park renamed in Mr Maley’s honour.

“Stan never missed an opportunity to express his passion for the City he called home and to demonstrate his desire to make Geraldton a better place to live,” he said.

“Stan was always up for a chat and a welcoming part of our community. His legacy continues with the many people and projects he dedicated his time and energy to.”

Member for Geraldton Lara Dalton met regularly with Mr Maley as he sought funding and approval for the botanical garden, remembering him as “a true friend to our community and to gardens in Geraldton and the Mid West.”

“I really enjoyed catching up with Stan, always down to earth, and straight forward,” she said.

FrOGGS is holding a monthly maintenance day at Maitland Park on Saturday, February 5. All who wish to contribute are invited to head down between 9am and noon to help work on Mr Maley’s grand plan.

A funeral will be held on Friday, February 11, at 2pm.

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