Member for Lismore Thomas George will represent the region at the Melbourne memorial ceremony for Dr Richard Zann, who died in the February 7 Kinglake bushfire along with his wife, Eileen, and daughter Eva, 25.

“Richard is the son of the late Leon Zann and Mrs Gwen Zann (who still resides in Casino). The Zanns are a well-known local family and Richard was educated at Casino Marist Brothers and Woodlawn College before studying zoology at universities in Armidale and Brisbane,” Mr George said.

“He went on to become an acclaimed world-renowned zoologist and a global leader in the study of zebra finches and bird behaviour and communication.

“He was also a key team member researching animal recolonisation of the volcanic island of Anak Krakatau and was highly esteemed by generations of undergraduate students at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, where he taught and undertook research for 39 years.”

Mr George said that Eileen Hodson had been a dancer in the New Zealand Ballet Company before marrying Dr Zann at Evans Head and moving to Melbourne, where she ran a successful dance school while raising son Chris and daughter Eva.

Eva, 25, was embarking on a promising career in public relations and was a much-loved team member at Cancer Council Victoria.

“The family holidayed every year at Evans Head, which is where I last saw Richard and his son, Chris, this Christmas,” Mr George said.

“Chris, a Geelong surveyor, also suffered the loss of a close school friend and is receiving support from his extended family and a wide network of friends.

“The family are expected to be buried at Evans Head once the Victorian Coroner releases their remains.”

La Trobe University will host a memorial ceremony for Richard, Eileen and Eva at the Agora Theatre at 2pm on Friday.

“I believe that, like most other Kinglake residents, Richard and family were constantly mindful of the threat of bushfire and always took every possible step to prepare their property, yet nothing could prepare anyone for the unannounced ferocity, and awful speed of this firestorm,” Mr George said.

“Our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to the Zanns and all those who have lost family, friends or property in this unparalleled disaster and I urge everyone in a position to do so, to give generously to support those who are left with nothing. Tears can’t put out a fire but these fires won’t dry our tears.”

* Here at Far North Coaster, we’re deeply saddened by the deaths of the Zanns. I worked with Dr Zann’s brother, Tony, for many years and he is a journalist of the highest standing and integrity; not only do I regard him as a great colleague, he is also a true mate. Tony is now the editor of NSW Fishing Monthly and writes Far North Coaster’s weekly fishing reports. To Tony, his wife Leonie, children Thomas and Lucy, Mrs Gwen Zann and the extended Zann family, we offer our deepest sympathies. Tony, our thoughts are with you, mate. — Editor.