Bell tolls for lawyer who turned down gold watch

Bell tolls for lawyer who turned down gold watchSydney - Australian politicians learned Tuesday that the country's oldest practising lawyer had died aged 100 and that they would need to look for a new exemplar of grateful employment and retirement postponed.

When he succumbed to a stroke last week, George Bilbie was still working in the Newcastle law firm that he founded in 1944.

"I'm one of the luckiest people out there," Bilbie said a few months before his death. "When you are brought up poor, you appreciate everything you get."

The indefatigable Bilbie was taken up as a role model by a government urging Australians to abandon the old paradigm of retiring at 55. Under new rules, workers over 55 can earn a wage but still take some of their pensions.

Nick Dan, a partner in the law firm, said that Bilbie was also an inspiration to clients who came in with their problems.

"A lot of clients a lot younger than him might be feeling sorry for themselves, that they thought they were getting old, and I'd just point out to them that just down the hallway was a 100-year-old man who most of them knew," Dan told national broadcaster ABC.

"We'd then get him in to talk to them. I'm sure it lifted their spirits to know that he could still be doing that." (dpa)