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HomeNewsLocalsGenerous volunteer, host and friend Tony Thomas “Mary” Cooper (July 22, 1959...

Generous volunteer, host and friend Tony Thomas “Mary” Cooper (July 22, 1959 – April 27, 2013)

Tony started his first catering job at the Cairns RSL before moving to Sydney at the age of 18. One of his first Sydney jobs was at Pulcinella on Bayswater Road, then Buon Ricordo for world-famous chef Armando Percuoco. Armando recalled his first interview with Tony when Tony announced he worked at “the best restaurant in Cairns”. Armando laughed and yelled in his thick Italian accent, “The bloody RSL!”

Tony worked with Armando and Jemma for some 15 years. Armando said he did “a fantastic job”. Tony worked with many world-renowned chefs as maître d’ of Mezzaluna, and with Marco Polese and Neil Perry at Rockpool.

During nearly 40 years in Sydney Tony lived in many share households, becoming great life-long friends with all his flat-mates. Damian Furlong remembers him as “Den Mother” of their Pitt Street house. “There was always a seat for you at Tony’s table.” Damian remembers a wonderful cook and generous host. No one ever saw a bigger Christmas tree than the one at Pitt St which could easily have buckled the floor.

Tony also lived for seven years on Raglan Street in Waterloo. He maintained one of the nine award-winning “streetscape gardens” (37-53 Raglan St), entered annually in the City of Sydney Gardening Competition.

He was a skilled events manager and handyman. David Wilkins, Events Manager of the AIDS Council of NSW, and Tony’s best friend, said: “There was nothing he couldn’t do”, and remembers many great times Tony built complete sets for the Boomerang Social Club. The two friends were key members of the club during the ’60s and ’70s.

Tony made enormous contributions to Mardi Gras. He built one of the first-ever floats – for the Boomerang Social Club. In 1992 Tony received The Outstanding Contribution Award from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, in recognition of many years of outstanding service. During the Sydney Gay Games in 2002 he ran the Gay Games Bar in Hyde Park. He also competed in swimming at the first Gay Games in San Francisco.

Tony was an incredibly generous volunteer. He volunteered with Bingay, was a board member of Mardi Gras 1985/6, the founding director and trustee of the Aurora Foundation, and a long-term volunteer with ACON. He was a valued staff member at The Star, helping save the gay paper from near financial ruin. He was also a volunteer with the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Diva, Food and Wine Fair, Mardi Gras and New Mardi Gras. Stevie Clayton said: “He was always doing the shitty jobs, without complaining.”

Tony worked in many fields throughout his working career, opening his own restaurant and cabaret room, TC’s, on Crown Street. Most recently, he worked as a handyman for Moran Health’s nursing homes in Sydney.

A son, brother, uncle, lover, activist, volunteer, worker and friend, Tony will be sadly missed by his loving family and his loving friends.

Miss ya Mary.

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