Grant Burley was a humble, caring gentleman: Dor Young remembers her son-in-law

A humble man: Laurieton's Dor Young looking at the wedding day photograph of Grant Burley who died in a light plane crash on October 28 and her daughter Kym who passed away three and a half years ago.
A humble man: Laurieton's Dor Young looking at the wedding day photograph of Grant Burley who died in a light plane crash on October 28 and her daughter Kym who passed away three and a half years ago.

The world has lost a good man.

Laurieton's Dor Young says she will remember her son-in-law Grant Burley as a gentleman, humble and unassuming and kind-hearted and caring.

Grant was killed along with his fiancee Suzanne Rohleder on October 28 when the light plane he was piloting crashed close to the Pacific Highway at Johns River.

Mrs Young described Grant, who was formerly married to her daughter Kym, as the son she never had. Kym died three years ago.

"The day after Kym, Grant's wife and my daughter, passed away in her sleep three and a half years ago, Grant put his arm around me and said: 'Don't worry Dor, I'm going to look after you'. And he did," she said.

"I've known Grant for 15 or 16 years. After my husband Roy and I met Grant for the first time, I said that they (Kym and Grant) would get married.

"His passing will leave such a void."

Mrs Young said Grant had been a successful lawyer before venturing into banking and investments.

Despite a change in career path, he would occasionally and successfully return to the court room to fight his own cases, she said.

"He was very busy handling his various business interests but was also a very accomplished pilot who was very pedantic about his planes," Mrs Young said.

To me, he was just a marvellous, humble man and just a real gentleman.

Dor Young

"Grant would regularly travel overseas to pilot someone else's plane to Australia for them. He was very good like that: he was good to his friends, very stoic.

"It didn't matter what anyone wanted he would give up his own time to help them. But he never wanted nor asked for anything in return.

"And it didn't matter what he was doing at home at Johns River. If someone rang up and said I've got to dig a hole, or start a driveway, Grant would load up his truck with the gear and just go and help.

"He did a lot of work around Johns River on community projects too.

"To me, he was a marvellous, humble man and just a real gentleman."

At the controls: Grant Burley regularly flew patients and their family members to medical appointments. Photo: Ashley Cleaver/Cleavers Images

At the controls: Grant Burley regularly flew patients and their family members to medical appointments. Photo: Ashley Cleaver/Cleavers Images

Mrs Young said he would often transport patients and their families to Sydney for medical and hosptial appointments.

While he didn't talk about that side of himself much, Mrs Young said there was one little boy from Tamworth that struck a cord with Grant.

"I think that one little boy got to him. He picked up the boy and his father and flew them to Sydney. He made the return trip about a week later but he almost broke down (and crided)."

Mrs Young said Grant had held a flying licence for some 13 years.

They did all this work behind the scenes. He just didn't want or need to advertise what he was doing.

Deniece Merryfull

One organisation to benefit from Grant's unassuming style of help was the Kew Country Club.

Operations manager Deniece Merryfull described Grant as a wonderful man.

"I got to know Grant and Kym over about a decade or so and he was a club member who supported the raffles and dined here too," she said.

"One year he offered to pick up Santa in a helicopter and bring him to the club for the annual children's Christmas party. And he kept on doing that year after year, but never asked for anything in return.

"When we merged with LUSC, he extended the support but over the years he also offered some feedback too.

"Both Grant and Kym were very active in the community; Kym was a regular helper at the Riding for the Disabled at Kendall.

"They did all this work behind the scenes. He just didn't want or need to advertise what he was doing."

Mrs Merryfull said Grant was very hurt and saddened by Kym's sudden death, “But when I spoke with him on Friday he told me he was very happy,” she said.

"It's just devastating news. We have lost a very strong, community-minded person in Grant.”

Grant Burley was 51 years of age.