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A tribute to...

Michael Joel Solomon OAM

Published: Wed 10th Jul 2019

"I feel like he was a real life Lleyland Brother or MacGyver who would never be seen without his penknife or driving anything other than a big diesel 4WD decked out with all the trimmings."

- Leah Steinberg (daughter)

 

A BOY'S own adventure story, lived well, over a full 80 years, is one way to describe the life of Michael Joel Solomon (OAM).

From growing up in Brisbane, where he attended Buranda State School, Churchie and then State High (as a Senior), Michael launched himself into the world.

He learned to fly and became a pilot. He tackled the sea with a love of boating, fishing and watersports, and he backed himself with his career, taking on a wide range of roles over the years from apprentice electrician to a salesman selling insurance, then medical products.

"He championed kangaroo leather from the Gibson's tannery in Brisbane at a time when it was new, before evolving again to become a business founder."

At a time when pinball machines and arcade games were the new thing,Michael and his business partner sawan opportunity. Their vision, Associated Leisure and Playtime, brought joy to thousands of families over many years through the family leisure centres it operated in 15 locations throughout Queensland at its peak.

Michael,who died on February 6 after an 18 month battle with cancer, is described by daughter Leah Steinberg as "a fiercely devoted man who was absolutely loved and adored by his immediate and wider family, his childhood and lifelong friends from many walks of life and those 100s of people he helped."

He was born on 4 November 1938 in Brisbane. The son of David and Mena Solomon, and a brother to Paulette and Jocelyn. He grew up as part of Brisbane's Jewish community at a time when Australia was grappling with the terrors of World War II and its aftermath.

The spark for Michael's family was found across a crowded room at a party in Brisbane in 1963 when he first locked eyes with Rosemary Gibson. In 1966, the couple married. They moved to Melbourne and Rosemary converted to Judaism.

Michael J Solomon (OAM), second from left, pictured with his wife Rosemary, granddaughters Ella (left) and Sophie (right), children Leah and Josh and son-in-law Jason.
Michael J Solomon (OAM), second from left, pictured with his wife Rosemary, granddaughters Ella (left) and Sophie (right), children Leah and Josh and son-in-law Jason.

After several years in Melbourne the couple returned to Brisbane where their children Josh and Leah were born. It was in Brisbane, the family laid its strongest roots, ties that remain to this day.

Like his father before him Michael was always an active participant in community life.

Both of them were awarded Order of Australia Medals (OAMs) for service to their communities. A fact Michael was proud of - telling Jewish news service J-Wire at the time: "I was quite chuffed about it when I heard. I'm very honoured by the fact, the first thing I thought of when I heard about it was 'wow!' because my father received an OAM for his services to the community in Brisbane. I think that it must be the only time, certainly in the Brisbane Jewish community anyway, that a son of a father who also has an award, gets an award as well."

Michael received his OAM in 2018. His community involvement includes: 40 years with Brisbane Chevra Kadisha (made a life member in 2015); 50 years with the Brisbane Hebrew Congregation; 30 years with Rotary Club of Albion (president from 1983-84); volunteer pilot for Angel Flight since 2006; and life membership of the Jewish sporting organisation Maccabi Queensland. He was also a JP.

Describing her jazz-loving Dad, his character and his love of adventure, Leah said: "Our adventures, with Michael as the chief organiser and planner, took our family to every square inch of Moreton Bay, but also into the bush camping, to the Carnarvon Gorge, skiing, sailing to the Whitsundays, America, Europe and beyond.

"I feel like he was a real life Lleyland Brother or MacGyver who would never be seen without his penknife or driving anything other than a big diesel 4WD decked out with all the trimmings."

"He did not take the time to retire, sit still and whittle life away. This was not his style. In fact, he found it very difficult to sit still, unless he was driving a car, a boat, or flying a plane, and even then he was busy."

Michael is much missed by his wife Rosemary, his children Leah and Josh, son-in-law Jason, grand-children Ella and Sophie, his sister Paulette, his wider family and all those who knew him.


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