The industry has lost one of its greatest champions and educators. Garry Clear Head Teacher Autobody Repair and Refinish at TAFE NSW. Always ready to help, he was an amazing support to his students. He was also a great help to me over the years, putting me in touch with the right people to talk to in the TAFE space and always on hand to answer questions or run an idea by. Ever cheerful, ever helpful, ever knowledgeable, he will be sorely missed.

Many people in the industry have expressed their sadness - I have included those that were posted on our Linkedin and Facebook posts. Here are some tributes from his friends and colleagues. The first is from Paint & Panel judge Neil Powell and Garry's former colleague who introduced me to Garry and was great friends with him.

Neil Powell

I was very saddened to hear that Garry Clear had passed away after a very long and hard-fought battle with cancer. 

I first met Garry 20 years ago when he came to work as a part time teacher of Panel Beating at Sydney TAFE. At that time he was also completing his Bachelor of Adult Education and still working in his restoration business. The enthusiasm and knowledge he bought to the position meant he soon gained full time employment and we worked closely together for many years on TAFE projects both inside and outside the classroom, some of which included TAFE Smash Repair Team, World Skills, joint TAFE/industry projects, curriculum writing and trade tests for new teachers.

Garry was passionate about his career and proved to be a gifted and inspirational teacher who always went the extra mile for his students. He became involved in many areas of TAFE and the smash repair industry and built up a close and important relationship between TAFE and industry. He was admired by his colleagues and students alike for his dedication, enthusiasm and inspirational approach to everything he did. 

When he was appointed Head teacher at St George TAFE I would often visit him for a chat and was constantly amazed at the tireless efforts he continued to display, even after he became unwell. He was always keen to have a discussion about his ideas and aspirations, and this enthusiasm never waned. I was ever in awe of his courage and determination. 

I have always had the utmost respect for Garry as a true gentleman, amazing teacher, great ambassador for the collision repair industry and genuinely close friend. The smash repair Industry and TAFE have lost a great advocate and true expert and I have lost a great mate. It has been an honour and privilege to have known him. 

My heart goes out to Wendy, Benjamin, Lachlan and their partners and his two beautiful grandchildren who were the apple of his eye. 

Rest in Peace my dear friend. 

John Rowan Head Teacher of Panel Beating Sydney Institute of TAFE. Ultimo, retired.

Champion educator and industry legend Garry Clear passed away on Christmas Eve. To his wife Wendy and sons Ben and Lachlan, you are very much in my thoughts and prayers.

I was privileged to work with Garry for a number of years in the Panel Beating Section, Sydney TAFE College Ultimo.

There was no doubting, Garry was a first class tradesman and he brought enormous energy and enthusiasm to our team, always willing to support and improve the section. From day one there was no holding him back. Garry was admired and very well liked by his fellow teachers and support staff.

Garry was a gifted teacher, his rapport with students and communication skills with young people was outstanding. Garry could encourage and motivate students at any level, and the ability to demonstrate his own skills without making a big deal of it, earned him great respect from his students. There was never any doubt that Garry was going to be employed as a full time teacher, and by his own initiative he began and completed a Batchelor of Education, before being employed full time in 2007

Garry was always wanting to do more, he took on positions with the World Skills Sydney Region. I believe over time he held every position available from National Designer, Judge, Co-Ordinator, Convener and Coach. Garry had a close relationship with the smash repair Industry, which kept him in touch but also gave him opportunities to get students employed.He was always an active participant at trade shows and employment markets. He devoted time to the TAFE smash repair team, many weekends and holiday times and always in his own time.

Garry was appointed to a Head Teacher position, and served at the St George and Ultimo campus.  I did not work with him during this time, but his peers tell me he never stopped and was never short of another good idea.

In recent years it was obvious that Garry was not well at all, but whenever I enquired the same answer was forthcoming. “It's all good mate," - with Garry the glass was never half full, it was 99.9% full. 

Garry was a great bloke and will be sadly missed. I am proud to know that he numbered me among his friends. Rest in peace Garry. 

Rainer Malkki Autobody Head Teacher, Sydney

I was one of Garry's many friends and a close work colleague. I was very privileged to work alongside Garry for many years and I will miss his input enormously.  

His contribution to the industry he loved cannot be encapsulated in minutes.  Garry’s lifetime of dedication to his craft would require a book the size of “War and Peace”.  

Garry’s fight with his health sadly came to a sudden end late last year, he chose to fight his battles very privately. Many of his colleagues would not have even known he was unwell, because his approach to his working life was a recipe of commitment - a happy-go-lucky attitude, combined with a twist of his dry sense of humour and not forgetting a very large pinch of dedication to everything he undertook.  

Garry’s leadership was not limited to his teaching section, he held many roles within WorldSkills over numerous years. 

Garry was a Team Leader; Chief Judge; Industry Expert; Skills Project Designer; Convenor; Trainer; Mentor; a Volunteer but most of all, a good friend to all who worked alongside him. 

Garry’s commitment to providing the very best outcomes for his students was nothing short of inspirational. He spent endless hours preparing facilities, resources and his team of teachers to provide the very best possible outcomes for every student that came his way. 

Garry’s “Get-up-and-go attitude” to his work was sometimes exhausting to watch and he was given the nick name “Energiser” by his peers. This term of endearment was a good reflection of his vigour and passion for his vocation. 

Garry’s teaching career stretched over 20 years. He worked at numerous campuses and never left any of his colleagues behind, he always returned to help his mates whenever he was needed. Garry’s network of industry contacts was also very impressive, he developed solid relationships with many repairers, small and large who helped plan our delivery programs for future students ensuring there was a strong industry focus.  

There is no doubt Garry’s dedication and achievements will be talked about for many years to come, but today I say -Goodbye my friend, and may your next journey be as fulfilling as your last. 

Damien Cahill, BMW

I had the great pleasure of getting to work with & meet Garry when we were doing our Holden Collision forums. A real gentleman and as mentioned above a real champion for TAFE and the raising of standards with the trade. Nothing was too much bother for Garry.

I’m saddened by his passing, my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his loved ones. Rest In Peace Mate.

Charlie Ramsay, Suncorp

That is truly sad. He was always such a positive person.

Shane Park IAG

Very sorry to hear, I  had a lot of dealings with Garry during his time at St George Tafe. I always found him to be a very positive, accommodating man with a real passion for the collision repair industry and personal interest in his students. Big loss both as a friend and to the industry. My thoughts extend to his family and friends.

Leonard Sanna GNG Sales

Very sad news. A true gentleman of the industry. RIP Garry.

Lance Weiss, Smart Repair Australia

Sad loss, a true gentleman and doyen of the Refinish Industry, May you rest well Garry.

Tony Wiggins BASF

A true gentleman, when l first started my career in sales l use to call into his body shop on Woodville road. He always had time to talk and even give advice to a newbie to the industry. No matter how busy he was he would support all customer events and bring that inspiring positive attitude and personality with him. So sad , Vale Gary Clear

Terry Noble PPG

Garry will be truly missed by all and the automotive trade that he was so passionate about in his life. Garry had the time for all and would share his knowledge to where ever he was involved , sad passing. RIP.

George Di Scala 3M
What terrible news. Garry was one of the nicest gentlemen in the industry and will be sorely missed. Condolences to his family.
Mark Czvitkovits
Devastated to hear the news about Garry. Having experienced first hand Garry's commitment to apprentices not only in NSW, but nationally as well, it is a great loss of one of the true gentleman and advocates of our industry. My condolences to Garry's family and friends. RIP mate
Mario Dimovski Tradiebot
Garry was passionate about our industry and supporting the next generation of skilled technicians. I had the pleasure to work with Garry in recent years through a number of industry / Tafe events and projects. Garry was a down to earth true Aussie champion. Very sad to hear this news.
Peter Blanshard IAME
Never have truer words been said about a man so passionate about his Industry and the TAFE System. Garry was always there to assist and promote our Industry no matter if it was in or out of TAFE hours ...he honestly loved what he did. May you rest in peace mate.
Jamie Panter BASF
Very sad day. Garry was a great ambassador for refinish education in the Australian industry. He will be very missed by all he connected with.
Tony Naughton 3M
Sad news indeed. A true gentleman happy to help others and go the extra mile. Condolences to his family friends work colleagues.sadly we will all miss him.
Paul Kulpar MTAQ
Terrible news... he was a great ambassador for the industry and always wanted the best outcomes for people learning the trade - he will be missed.
Andrew King 3M
Very sad news. He was a great advocate for the collision repair industry that he was truly passionate about. Rest In Peace my friend.
Terry Feehan
Very sad to hear of Garry’s passing. He has been a real credit to the Australian collision repair industry, to education and training, to young people and their careers. We will miss you, mate.
Steve Crompton
I had the privilege to work with and alongside and be inspired by Garry's dedication to his job.
Dedication to his students.
Dedication to all who worked with and along side of him.
Dedication to Tafe.
Dedication to Worldskills.
Dedication to the industry...
A genuine man who’s passion for teaching and caring for students was first class..
Deepest condolences to Garry's family and friends..
The industry has lost a true gentleman...


Scott Holland

I spent over 15yrs working along side with Garry and supporting the NSW TAFE, its apprentices and its teachers. Garry was to me a great and caring man who gave so much to students. I feel a great loss will be felt through the industry. My deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

Don Cole former Supercars volunteer
Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Garry. I knew Garry during my time at TAFE and although we were in different sections, Garry was always a positive person. His passion, drive and enthusiasm for his industry will be missed. 
Tina Renshaw English Speaking Board
I am truly sorry to hear of Garry’s death. I worked at Sydney TAFE for 8 years and knew him as a leader with integrity and authenticity. A truly decent man who supported his team and worked tirelessly for his students and our organisation. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family. Thank you Garry.
Garry Ibbotson Apprentices R Us
Such a great bloke and a true gentleman would always be willing to help out in anything he could. R.I.P Garry.
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