When Emile George Moufarrige died in 1987, the Mudgee Guardian dedicated its front page to his obituary and a report on the funeral held for the much loved former mayor.
“A measure of his contribution to the town and district cannot really be put into words,” the paper wrote.
“Nevertheless, George Moufarrige felt that Mudgee gave him far more than he was ever able to repay.”
George Moufarrige was born in 1906, the only son of a well-to-do family in Lebanon.
He grew up in a time of political turmoil, and saw his father and grandfather arrested many times - the young George was sometimes dispatched to the prison with a gold coin strapped to his body to secure their release.
Mr Moufarrige’s father died just before the formation of the semi-independent Lebanese Republic, and the younger Moufarrige, then a student at Beirut University, resolved to emigrate to Australia.
Arriving in 1925, he moved around working different jobs before coming to Mudgee as manager of the ‘M-M’ shop in 1927, later purchasing the business.
In 1936, he married Thelma Aboud, with whom he had four children.
Mr Moufarrige was a member of Mudgee Rotary Club from 1939, becoming president six years later and one of Australia’s six district governors in 1952.
Mr Moufarrige lived in Mudgee for 60 of his 81 years, and played a key role in securing an abattoir, swimming pool and reservoir for the town.
He helped to establish the Mudgee Soldiers Club, even participating in an Ugliest Man Competition to raise funds.
“There would be few organisations, sporting clubs and other groups which have not benefited in some way from the efforts and support of Mr Moufarrige at some time in their history,” the Guardian wrote.
“Down through the years many individuals and families also have cause to be grateful for the help they received from Mr Moufarrige.”
Mr Moufarrige served 27 years in local government as an alderman in the Mudgee Municipality and then as a councillor for the Mudgee Shire Council, and was mayor of Mudgee and shire president for a total of 14 years.
“Asked once by his daughter, Mrs [Julia] King, if he wished he had never left Lebanon and the comfortable life his family experienced there, Mr Moufarrige told her that he could never imagine his life being any better than that which he had experienced in Mudgee,” wrote the Guardian.
The name of George Moufarrige is commemorated locally in Moufarrige Mall, the walkway that connects Church Street to Byron Place, and Moufarrige Park on Mulgoa Way, backing onto the Cudgegong River.
The Mudgee Guardian, March 31, 1987