Tomorrow night in the NSW Hunter Valley, the life of Len Evans will be celebrated at the Tower wine complex, his last great project.

Several hundred members, friends, drinking mates, business people and family will gather to raise a glass to the man who did more than anyone to put this country’s multimillion dollar wine industry on the map, and wine on our tables.

In this way, he had an impact as great if not larger than Kerry Packer, who merely protected an inherited TV monopoly and some inherited magazines.

His life and career was at least as notable as that of Peter Brock, who drove cars for a living and encouraged the emission of greenhouse gases (but also preached tirelessly about the environment and road safety) and Steve Irwin, passionate greenie and tourism nut.

Evans’s memorial service won’t be televised; he wasn’t a saint and he wasn’t the sort of person who would have encouraged such “worship” as we saw with the state funeral of Kerry Packer and the post death wailings about Irwin and Brock. Seven, Nine and the ABC are broadcasting the services for Peter Brock and Steve Irwin live next week.

Their deaths have become a public circus. It all started with the battle between Seven and Nine last year to cover the service for Graham Kennedy. Kerry Packer had a lunchtime memorial service televised live by Nine. So it’s probably no surprise that the funeral services for a car driver and a wildlife wrestler have become public entertainment. After all, they came to prominence through TV and the media and what better way to go. On Page One and on the day’s TV news.

Is there now a new way of measuring a person’s life? Only those the media have made famous will qualify for a state funeral or service covered by a TV Network. It’s the ultimate reality TV.

I’d much rather go the Len Evans way: a few glasses of Tokay — it’s said he consumed several glasses the night before he died — and a private memorial.

Peter Fray

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