From his humble beginnings building airstrips, the late Dr Bernie Kilgariff OAM rose to become a pivotal figure in the development of Central Australia.
His commitment to the region has been recognised with the awarding of a Doctor Letters, honoris causa for his outstanding, long-term contribution to the development and advancement of the Northern Territory.
The NT’s Charles Darwin University presented the award to his widow, Mrs Aileen Kilgariff at Thursday night’s CDU graduation ceremony held at the Alice Springs Convention Centre.
Before a 200-strong audience, CDU’s Acting Chancellor Richard Ryan AO paid tribute to Dr Kilgariff’s influence across political, social and sporting spheres including his grass roots role in sporting organisations through to his role in forming the Country Liberal Party.
“He helped build Alice Springs to become the town as it stands today and made significant contributions across the Territory,” Mr Ryan said.
Reflecting on the event, Mrs Kilgariff said she was overwhelmed with the recognition.
“It was a wonderful honour to receive the award and I am still a little bit overcome,” she said.
She said her late husband had witnessed and had contributed to the transformation of Alice Springs.
“He watched the place grow from a couple of hundred people to what it is now and once he got involved in politics everything about the Territory interested him.”
Dr Kilgariff was honoured at a state funeral in April during which hundreds of mourners paid their respects. He was 86 years old.