Father of Ballina prawn industry Charlie Heynatz passes away

A FUNERAL for Charles "Charlie" Alexander Heynatz, one of the founding members of the Ballina Fishermen's Co-op, will be held in Ballina today.

After a short illness, Charlie passed away on Wednesday, July 8, surrounded by his loving family.

Born on August 10, 1926, Charlie was 88 when he died.

He was one of the first to trawl for prawns out of Ballina in 1947 and owned trawlers right up until 2001.

Charles Alexander Heynatz, known to all as Charlie

His name made the history pages as the captain of one of the two Ballina-based fishing trawlers to come to the aid of the Las Balsas rafts in 1973.

His vessel Enterprise and Col Naughton's Idaho helped the HMAS Labuan tow the rafts across the Richmond River bar.

One of the three rafts that made the Pacific Ocean crossing from Ecuador to Ballina is still on display at the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.

Charlie's Enterprise also features in a Port of Ballina mural on display at the museum

Ballina fisherman Brian Newlands can remember working for Charlie - it was his first full-time job when he was about 16.

"You wouldn't have got a better person," he said.

"All the time I was with him I never heard him have an argument with anyone or anything like that."

Mr Newlands said he worked for Charlie for three years but remained friends with him long after.

He said they would talk about the change they had seen in the Ballina fishing industry since the "good old days".

"That was the best of the best when I was working for him (Charlie)," Mr Newlands said. "You'll never get a better person.

"He'll be missed alright."

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his funeral service to be held at Rainbow Chapel, Rainbow Avenue, West Ballina, today from 10.30am.