Balwyn Rotary’s gentleman and motoring writer, Christopher de Fraga, died peacefully at Cabrini on 1st October 2017 after losing his battle with cancer.
Chris spent some 40 years reporting on the car industry including two years with the Melbourne Herald and 27 years with The Age moving, from print to radio, to host a weekly motoring program on 3AW.
Over those years Chris experienced and documented the improvements in safety and vehicle handling.
Chris joined Rotary in 2008 and as a member of our club Chris spoke at many Rotary meetings about car safety. Chris said: ‘I mostly talk about crashing cars -they teach one to drive but not how to crash. (The one you walk away from is the important one. I have crashed as a passenger and as a driver and it was much worse as a passenger as there was nothing I could do about it).
I have attended, for more than 40 years, many car makers’ safety forums in Australia, Europe and Japan going back to the first Mercedes S Class with ABS brakes in Germany and have always been interested in performance -safety and speed.”
He road tested new cars every week from 1965 and attended new car launches and car shows in the USA, Europe and Japan. He was an advanced driving instructor for about eight years in the 1980s.
After leaving journalism, he joined his son Jonathon as lease-owners and managers of the iconic Richmond hotel, the Kingston and later two more hotel leases in Richmond.
With a degree in History and Philosophy of Science and Scandinavian Studies Chris wrote a book on the history of yachting in Port Phillip 100 years of yachting on Port Phillip Bay. Chris held a pilot’s license, enjoyed yachting and, in his youth, coxed rowing eights. With his first wife Margaret, Chris had two children Genevieve and Jonathon Margaret died from cancer when the children were young and Chris subsequently married his second wife, Carole.
As a Rotarian, Chris was a true gentleman. A person with a powerful sense of ethics, a phenomenal depth of knowledge across so many subjects and a remarkable story teller. Our thoughts are with Chris’s wife Carole, his children Genevieve and Jonathan and their families.
As a club, we had the unique advantage of a professional journalist crafting articles for our newsletter. At each meeting Chris would enjoy the repartee—and give as much as he received—and then
take his place at a table, with his laptop balanced on his knees, to record the evenings event. His company was always sought-after nd his opinion respected.
Thank you, Christopher, for your major contribution to Rotary Club of Balwyn.
Cath Stahel and Keith Carrol
Rotary Club of Balwyn