Vale March 2004
BAKER, Graeme | BROOMHEAD, Jeffery Ernest (Jeff) | BROWN, Reverend Rodger | BURCHILL, Sr Dora Elizabeth | BUXTON, Keith Thomas | CHAN, Mary Yit Geen | DONALD, Dulcie Annie | GANE, Edith Trevanian | HEARNE, Richard Fosser | HOLZKNECHT, Helene | McGOLDRICK, Peter Gordon | McCULLOUGH, Andrew | O’SHEA, Marie Patricia | PRENTICE, Sir William | RACE, William | SHEEKEY, Peter | THOMSON, Lyn | TOMASSETTI, Fr Berard | WORTH, Mark | YOUNG, Eric Edward |
(21 February 2004, aged 61)
Further details in next issue.
Reverend Rodger BROWN, OAM, LTh (14 August 2003, aged 92 years)
Rodger and his wife, Kath, went to PNG in 1940 and served in the Kabakada and Nakanai Methodist missions in New Britain. Kath was evacuated with their baby son, Graham, in December 1941 leaving Rodger behind. Rodger later had a miraculous escape to Australia with a party led by the legendary Keith McCarthy. In 1945, Rodger returned to PNG as a Padre with the Australian Army. His duties included ministering to the Japanese prisoners-of-war including those who were executed for war crimes. After discharge from the Army, Rodger served in various circuits in New Britain until 1954 when illness forced his repatriation to South Australia, and then in Australia until his formal retirement in 1977. In 1961, he was President of the South Australian conference of the Methodist Church.
Rodger suffered from ‘survivors’ guilt’. He had difficulty accepting that he had survived when so many had not. He believed that he must have been spared for a particular purpose. This belief led him to devote the rest of his life to the welfare of PNG, to its churches and to its people. He was very active in supporting Australian missionaries serving in PNG and was a tireless spokesman for that work. Later in his life, Rodger would be exhilarated by hearing the old Wesleyan hymns sung by PNG choirs. His heart remained in PNG! He wrote and published a book, Tala Tala, about his PNG experiences in the immediate pre- and post-war periods. Several months before his death he was awarded an OAM for services to the community and to PNG.
Rodger was a charming, ebullient man who was friendly to everybody. He had a prodigious memory and an endless store of tales about his years in PNG. He was a link to those dreadful war days. His death has broken that link and deprived many people of a loyal and enthusiastic friend. Rodger is survived by Kath and his children Graham, Jeffery and Christopher. Margaret L Henderson
Lyn THOMSON (October 2003, aged 82)
Born in Sydney, Lyn went to PNG in 1949 with her sister, Hazel Nicklason, to work in the Department of Education. She married Reg Thomson who served with the Departments of District Administration and Home Affairs over twenty-five years. Lyn became very active in the Country Women’s Association, later serving as National President of CWA.
Lyn was also well known for her indoor plants, with many Port Moresby residents’ homes adorned by their purchases of her African Violets and Philodendrons. Lyn rejoined the Department of Education in the late 1960s and became Port Moresby District Officer. After leaving PNG in 1973, Lyn and Reg settled on the Gold Coast, later moving to Mt Tamborine and then returning to the Gold coast for the last period of their long life together. Husband Reg and children, Mark and Julie, survive her. She is greatly missed. Mark Thomson
Jeffery Ernest (Jeff) BROOMHEAD (15 October 2003, aged 87)
Jeff Broomhead was a planter at Mt. Hagen in or around the 1960s. His wife Josie and son Geoffrey predeceased him. He is survived by his sons Richard, Kenneth and Malcolm and eight grandchildren. Bob Blaikie
Peter SHEEKEY (9 November 2003, aged 80)
Peter was born in Goulburn and educated in Wagga Wagga. He joined the army in early 1942 and after non-active service in Northern Queensland and Northern Territory, saw active service on Bougainville Island. After the war he joined the Australian Department of District Services & Native Affairs. During 1952 he completed his personal away from base record duration patrol of 87 days through the Central Highlands, beginning and concluding at Mendi.
Whilst at ASOPA in 1954 Peter met Gwen Flood, a nurse, and they were married in 1955. Peter and Gwen and their family lived variously in Samarai, Madang and Bogia before returning to Madang (1964-1968) where Peter was DDC to Des Clifton-Bassett. In 1968 Peter was promoted to the new position of Director of National Security (PNG) and the family relocated to Port Moresby. Like many expats, Peter chose the ‘golden handshake’ following Papua New Guinea’s Independence in 1975. Again, like many expats, Peter struggled to adjust to city life and retired early (in his mid 50s) due to decreasing hearing. The family lived in Coogee until the late 1980s before Peter and Gwen relocated to Mosman, the scene of their courting days. Peter is survived by his wife Gwen and his three children, Bruce, Louise and David. Bruce Sheekey
Edith Trevanian GANE (27 October 2003, aged 96)
With her mother a Nurse and her father a journalist and then Minister of Religion, Edith was brought up with a deep-rooted affection for current affairs and perfectionism. In 1936 Edith became a School Inspector with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, travelling widely throughout New Zealand and Australia. Edith married Eric Gane in 1938 after a long courtship and 11 years later they moved to PNG for a two-year mission stint starting in Omaura. Appalled at the lack of educational facilities for both teachers and students in the district, Edith soon implemented a program for training teachers in the morning and teaching students in the afternoon, all the while supervising her own two daughters correspondence lessons. In 1952 the family relocated to Goroka where Edith taught at the SDA Mission and then the Government High School. She eventually went to the Goroka Teachers’ College where she became an expert on teaching English as a Foreign Language. In 1974 Edith and Eric moved to Brisbane where they continued to lead full and productive lives. Whilst Edith enjoyed discussing politics, her life was dedicated to teaching others and being involved with her family including the education of her daughters, Janice and Ora Marea, her grand-children and great grand-children. Gane family
Dulcie Annie DONALD
(née Wilson) (3 September 2003, aged 75)
Born in Port Douglas, Dulcie went to Port Moresby with Posts and Telegraphs in 1948. In 1949 she married Robert Charles Donald at the Anglican Church there. Bob Donald worked for Burns Philp in Port Moresby. Dulcie and Bob then lived in Samarai before moving to Madang in 1955. Dulcie worked for the RPNGC in Madang and later in Port Moresby. She was also one of the first trainees in the Police Reservists in Port Moresby. Dulcie was a keen golfer in Madang and was also a Brownie Leader. Her Brownie Pack consisted of children of the native policemen with whom she worked. Dulcie and Bob left PNG in 1968 for Brisbane but later returned to Cairns, the area where both had grown up. From Dulcie’s sister Shirley-Ann Mackellar
Fr Berard TOMASSETTI, OFM Cap (10 December 2003, aged 83)
Fr Berard was one of the six original Capuchin missionaries from the Franciscan Order to arrive in PNG from the US in 1955, spending most of his time preaching in the Tari and Upper Mendi valleys. He was the first outsider met by many of the indigenous peoples, he assisted the government map and build roads through various areas and also assisted many of the local people with medical care. He returned to the States in 1989 for medical reasons, before serving the Capuchin Province of Mid-America and then in Victoria, Australia. Information obtained from The National, 24 December 2003
Sir William PRENTICE (31 January 2004, aged 84)
Bill Prentice was a fine man, an outstanding Australian and a learned and courageous judge. He had a long and distinguished legal and military career. He served in the AIF in the Middle East and New Guinea, was awarded an MBE and mentioned in dispatches. After the war Bill continued his interest in PNG and its people when he became a member of the Council of Papua New Guinea Affairs which was responsible for the promotion of legal education for Papua New Guineans and he was influential in the establishment of the Faculty of Law at the University of PNG. He was personally responsible for encouraging the education of many Papua New Guineans.
In 1970 Bill was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of PNG and served on that court for ten years. He was knighted in 1977 and appointed Chief Justice in 1978. His period on the bench therefore transected the momentous years of change through Self-Government, Independence and post-Independence. His Honour was responsible for many leading judgments, particularly in the area of constitutional interpretation, which have had a profound effect upon the development of the law in PNG.
In March 1980 Sir William Prentice resigned as Chief Justice in controversial and unfortunate circumstances and returned to Australia where he served for some years as a senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. His wife, Mary, died six months before him. He is survived by his four children – Damien, Toby, Felicity and Jacinta. Harry West
Keith Thomas BUXTON (28 September 2003, aged 70)
Keith spent the first 15 years of his life in Sydney. Later, after a varied career and whilst mining on the Snowy Mountain Scheme, he was given a medal in 1959 for being part of the team who became the world record holders for the longest distance tunnelled in one day. His continued interest as a volunteer with St John’s Ambulance Service eventually led him to his beloved New Guinea where he joined PNG Public Health in 1956 as a Field Medical Assistant serving in the Morobe, Sepik and Highland regions. It was in PNG that his two children, Michelle and Paul, were born. In the later part of the 1960s, Keith resigned from government service and became involved in the fledgling tourist industry in PNG. Although he left PNG in 1972 his involvement continued until 1988. Keith was well known for his distribution of hundreds of balloons for the kids on the Sepik River during his tourism days.
He travelled extensively throughout PNG by foot, air, road and sea. Keith was always ready to share a story and his experiences were outlined in his book called The Golden Years. Keith will be remembered for his courage in the face of adversity, his love of life, his keen sense of humour and his caring nature. Michelle Buxton
(née Schmutterer) (August 2003, aged 86)
Helene was born at Sattelberg Station near Finschhafen, the daughter of pioneer missionary parents. She was sent to school in Germany, where she also completed her nursing training and later became engaged to a young seminarian, Karl Holzknecht. They were married in her father’s old church at Ampo in December 1938 before living at Malalo, near Salamaua. Helene accompanied Karl on many of his trips, ministering to village women and helping the sick she found along the way.
The outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 meant that Karl – being a German – was taken prisoner as an enemy alien and removed to Australia. Their daughter, Irene, was born shortly after. With other missionary families, Helene and Irene were evacuated to South Australia. Karl and Helene’s older two sons, Gottfried (Fred) and Hartmut, were born after Helene eventually joined her husband at the Tatura internment camp in Victoria.
When hostilities ended Karl was the first German Lutheran missionary to be given approval to return to mission work in PNG in early 1947. Helene and Karl went to the mission station at Kaiapit in the Markham Valley and Helene soon established regular health, women’s and baby clinics, also looking after the girls in the boarding school.
Helene and Karl had two more sons, Philip and Erich. In 1969 the family moved back to Ampo, Lae where Helene had spent her early childhood. Eventually, personal health issues saw them move back to Australia. Helene became known as ‘Mutti’ to most people she met, she loved people, loved helping and being part of what was going on, despite growing frailty, and she always maintained her wicked sense of humour, inherited from her father. Information obtained from Post-Courier, 5-7 September 2003
Mark WORTH (1958-2004, aged 45 years)
Mark was accorded a half-page obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald on 3 February 2004. The night before, in prime time, ABC Television featured what probably is the highly acclaimed documentary filmmakers’ finest production, the hour long Land of the Morning Star (West Papua, formerly Netherlands New Guinea), revealing ‘the turbulent history of a troubled country, swept up in the power play of international history’. Mark’s passion for New Guinea stemmed from his birth in Manus, the son of an RAN Chief Petty Officer. His boyhood dream was to become a Patrol Officer, but Independence in 1975 intervened when he was only 17. Tragically, Mark has died of pneumonia in Jayapura at the age of 45. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people. He is survived by his wife Hellen, from Biak Island and daughter Insoriki. Farewell good friend. Harry West
Eric Edward YOUNG (2 August 2003, aged 60)
Former Patrol Office 1969-1976, Eric served in PNG in the Western District and then at the Rabaul Local Government Training Centre. He always spoke of his great pride of his service in PNG. He was an inspirational community leader and greatly respected in Geelong where he had been a former local councillor and a Labour State Election candidate. At his funeral a PNG flag covered his coffin which reflected Eric’s great love of the country. He is survived by his wife Wendy and their two children Stephen and Liz. Terry Larkins
Richard Fosser HEARNE
(19 December 2003, aged 74)
Ric died after a short illness (respiratory problems) in hospital in Canberra. He was visiting his daughter Jo. He is survived by three daughters and one son – Joey, Elizabeth, Georgie and a son, Jonathon, who lives in North West Australia. Ric’s wife Jane died some years ago.
Ric was SLGO in Mt Hagen in the sixties and was later DDC in Bougainville in the early seventies. In 1975 he was appointed District Commissioner of Bougainville, after Alexis Sari, before returning to Australia permanently. Dan Duggan
Mary Yit Geen CHAN
(1917-2003, aged 86)
Mary was born in Rabaul and educated in China. She married Gerard Chan in Rabaul in 1937 and endured both the Japanese occupation of Rabaul during WWII and evacuation due to volcanic eruption. After the war Mary and Gerard purchased a trade store which Mary ran. Mary Chan’s Store flourished and became an icon in Rabaul. The main reason for her success was her ability to communicate so well with people from all walks of life. Mary loved to spoil everyone with her cooking and was very welcoming and hospitable. She also had a very strong faith.
Mary and Gerard moved to Brisbane to live near their daughters in the mid 1970s. Mary was very proud of all her family. She always had a great love of New Guinea and her time there and enjoyed using Pidgin right to the end. Mary was devoted to Gerard, their three children Gerry, Geraldine and Benita and their families and will be greatly missed. Gerry Chan
Andrew McCULLOUGH (10 January 2004, aged 76)
After moving from England to Sydney as a child, Andy was educated at Scots College, Sydney University, and the University of Queensland. In 1955, Andy and his father, Bob, began the development of Azerita cocoa plantation near Popondetta. Using their own sawmill and local timber they built houses for themselves and their workers. Andy married Patricia in late 1955 and their three children were born in PNG. In the mid 1960s, parasites destroyed the Popondetta cocoa settlement scheme and over forty planters, including the McCulloughs were forced to leave their properties.
In 1963, Andy joined DASF as a Project Manager and worked first in Popondetta, mainly with the Orokaiva Coffee Growers Society, and later to Mount Hagen working in both coffee and pyrethrum. Andy then joined Trade and Industry in Moresby working on trade promotion mainly with Japan. In 1975 became attached to Geneva-based International Trade Centre from where he was sent to Indonesia and later to Malawi and Zambia where he was again involved in the promotion of tropical products.
In the 1980s he returned to his home base in Australia, Nimmitabel, NSW, where he ran fine wool merinos and, being close to the Australian Alps, he could return to his love of skiing. After being diagnosed with cancer in 1996 he decided to move to Canberra. He continued to ski competitively both at home and internationally. Andy was a true gentleman and diplomat. He was known for his great integrity, high work ethic and love of good things – especially quality wine and classical music. All this with a healthy streak of larrikinism, exemplified on one occasion by instigating and leading the ‘de-bagging’ of no less than the District Commissioner at a Popondetta Annual Ball. Andy is survived by his wife Patricia, son Robert and daughters Fiona and Barbara and six grandchildren. Michael Belfield
Marie Patricia O’SHEA (née O’Brien) (9 January 2004, aged 76)
Marie joined the Lands Dept in 1952 but returned to Newcastle in 1958. In 1961, now married to Jack O’Shea, she returned to Port Moresby. In 1963 Jack was appointed Resident Magistrate and transfers occurred to Madang (1964), Lae (1965) and finally back to Moresby again in 1971 when Jack was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Land Titles Commission. Marie, with their three children, Gwenneth, Pamela and Patrick, left the Territory in 1972 leaving Jack to stay on until Self-Government was attained in 1973. Marie will be remembered in PNG for her very active association with pre-schools and sporting clubs including a term as Captain of Lae Golf Club Associates.
On her return to Australia she became very interested and involved with both the Embroidery Guild and Bridge Clubs. Marie was dedicated to family life and imbued sincere and loving friendships through her personal warmth. Her passing will be mourned by many. Jack O’Shea
Peter Gordon McGOLDRICK, AE (24 December 2003, aged 83)
Peter joined the Australian administration in Papua New Guinea in 1952 after twelve years as an officer in the RAAF. Flying Officer McGoldrick trained in Canada, and flew under the command of the RAF until the end of WW II. He initially flew Wellington bombers through Egypt, India, Bengal and Burma, and subsequently transferred to Mitchell Bombers and completed 30 daylight missions in Europe. At the end of WW II Flying Officer McGoldrick joined the RAAF Reserve and was recalled on the occasions of the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and Malaya. Among other roles, he conducted transport flights from Japan to Korea, and a number of VIP flights. He returned to the RAAF Reserve in 1952, and remained a member until 1971. His remarkable career span was recognized in the award of the Air Efficiency Award in 1966. The DC3 he flew in Malaya is now in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Newly married in 1952, Peter McGoldrick joined the Papua New Guinea administration. PNGAA members will remember Peter from Treasury at Manus, and Customs in Lae, Port Moresby, Rabaul, Kavieng, Samarai, and Madang. He finally returned to Port Moresby as Deputy Comptroller of Customs.
Peter McGoldrick was a reluctant hero, who rarely spoke about the war. He received many Honours and awards for his Air Force service. His satisfaction in life and sense of identity and achievement revolved largely around his family. He was highly regarded by his Papua New Guinean and Australian colleagues in the TPNG Administration, and by his clients in the corporate sector; the respect with which he treated everyone was always reciprocated. He retired to New South Wales in 1973.
Peter died after a long illness. Through the period of his illness he still showed his fighting spirit when he had to re-learn to type using only one finger. His letters at the end were truly a labour of love. Peter is survived by his wife, Mel, their children Pammy and Terry, their partners Jim and Sue, and his grandchildren Danny, Annaliese, Melissa and Peter. Laurie LeFevre
William RACE, OAM (2 August 2003, aged 82)
Bill was sent in to join our rebuilding team of health workers at the newly established hospital at Saiho. He had come from the Royal Naval Medical Service England and brought a highly trained professional male nurse and knowledge of surgical procedures that were urgently needed in the devastated Northern District. Bill’s activities are recorded in the book written by Maslyn Williams, Stone Age Island, pages 167 & 177. He was a great entertainer – ventriloquism – slight of hand. Best of all his remarkable command of his faithful piano accordion. Thank you Bill for all the wonderful times you entertained us and relieved the tensions of the past day. Bill married Del who had travelled from Germany to Rabaul and they settled in Queensland upon his retirement from PNG. Bill then devoted his services to the Sunnybank RSL where he instituted a unique service of ‘Home Care’ in 1974 and for this he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. Albert Speer
Dora Elizabeth BURCHILL (3 December 2003, aged 99)
Born in Hawthorn and brought up in Victoria, Elizabeth (as she was known) pioneered nursing in remote places. She volunteered to serve in Ethiopia in 1936, nursed refugee children during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and served with the 2nd AIF in Palestine and Egypt in 1940. Elizabeth established the first infant welfare clinic in Darwin in 1950 followed by two years on Thursday Island. Her nursing adventures continued when, in 1960, Elizabeth went to the Sepik and set up a mobile infant welfare clinic to assist villages in an 80km radius, travelling to outlying mountain villages each fortnight. She remained there until retiring in 1963, after which she completed three degrees and published six books. Sister Burchill is listed in Who’s Who in Australia and had her portrait painted for the Archibald Prize in 1975. In 1990 Elizabeth was one of the veterans who travelled to Gallipoli for the 75th commemoration of the Anzac landing and in 1998 received an Order of Australia Medal for service to nursing. Information obtained from the Herald-Sun, 31 December 2003