Vale December 1987

BALDWIN, John |  BELL, Alexander |  JAMIESON, Kenneth |  JOHNSTONE, Albert |  LAWRENCE, Peter |  McCARTHY, Dudley, MBE |  MOODIE, Donald |  PALMER, James |  SLOANE, Cecily | 

 

Alexander BELL (29 September 1987)

Retired 1972 as Health Extension Officer. Leaves widow Lily.

 

Albert JOHNSTONE (20 October 1987)

Retired 1974 as postmaster P & T. Leaves widow Evelyn.

 

James PALMER (August 1987)

Retired 1957 as Inspector of Police. Leaves widow Olive.

 

Donald MOODIE (August 1987)

Retired 1965 as Field Supervisor in DASF. Leaves widow Molly.

 

Kenneth JAMIESON (16 November 1987)

Retired 1972 as Senior Technical Officer, X-ray Section in Health. Leaves widow Teresa.

 

Cecily SLOANE (5 November 1987)

Widow of Kevin, former Administrative Officer in Lands Dept.

 

John BALDWIN (11 November 1987)

Former Assistant Controller Customs and member of  the old well known Papuan family.

 

Dudley McCARTHY,  MBE (November 1987)

A diplomat/historian, he was a patrol officer pre­war; became a major in the AIF; wrote a volume of the Official History of World war II on the first year of fighting in PNG; then held several important posts in Territories and External Affairs, including Special Representative to the Trusteeship Council and Minister to United Nations. Always took a special interest in Papua New Guinea.

 

Peter LAWRENCE (12 December 1987)

[The following is the text of the eulogy given by President Doug Parrish, at Peter’s funeral.]

We say farewell not only to a scholar and gentleman, but to a witty, gracious and generous human being who was a friend of all of us. Peter was what is rare these days, a true scholar who, rather than seeking personal aggrandisement, was trying to find the truth and apply it to foster better understanding and better human relations, especially between Australians and New Guineans.

He reached the top of his profession in anthropology through sheer dogged hard work and dedication. He was not one of the lucky people to whom success came easy. There were no patrons, no lucky breaks. He had to fight every step of the way: fight to be accepted as a scholar at the ANU, fight to be allowed to do field work in New Guinea, although not in the area where he wanted to go which, however, in the long run did turn out to be a lucky break enabling him to gain an insight into cargo cult. He then had to fight for recognition of his writings as they ran against the then prevailing anthropological orthodoxy and there was much acrimony. He had to fight for every appointment, frequently against political prejudices, however unjustified.

His only stroke of luck was the appointment as lecturer to ASOPA which gave him his first chance in his career at a time when jobs were very scarce. He always considered this as the happiest and most fruitful time of his life. Obstinate and obstreperous as the patrol officers were whom he taught, he considered his work with them the most valuable contribution as it helped them to understand and appreciate the needs in governing New Guinea, an influence in the real world, with real active ‘doers’ many of whom turned out to be very exceptional people. It was also a time when he felt to be in the presence of a real ‘Community of Scholars’, where exchanges of ideas with people such as Jim MacAuley, Charles Rowley and Jack Mattes, widened his horizon, gaining insight into administration, social and political history and law, breaching the narrow focus of pure anthropology.

But even without that he would not have been a narrow scholar; from his days as Classical Scholar at Cambridge he kept an interest in the more philosophical and historical aspects of knowledge and always read widely in history where his knowledge might have put many a professional historian to shame. It was the epistemological and historical perspective in Road Belong Cargo which made the book such a seminal publication and brought him world-wide fame and recognition. And it was not pride in the success of the book that mattered most to him, but the fact that it established to the Government in New Guinea that Yali was not the criminal he was held to be by many, revealed the thought processes behind the cargo belief which led to a better understanding of the phenomenon and, as a consequence, to a changed attitude by government officers.

He was a man with a purpose in life: to succeed in his scholarship. He was not a genius: sheer hard work made his what he was, as well as his uncanny ability at what would now be called “lateral thinking”: the ability to see connections where others could not see them.

He was a perfectionist in everything he did: his research (he once walked 11 hours up a steep mountain to ask that ONE question he needed to make certain whether his facts were right); his writings, which came not easily either, were models of clear and precise English, but it meant sweating over every word; it meant writing and rewriting dozens of times, polishing every word and sentence until he was satisfied it was right.

Yet we are not talking about a dry and ambitious scholar but about a lively and witty man. There was always a joke or an easy word, an admission of error, that saved many a tight and difficult situation whether in New Guinea or personal relations. He never lost his sense of humour even under great stress, physical or mental. And despite, or possibly because, he had to struggle all his life to succeed and knew the difficulties, he was always ready with generous help: helping students, advising aspiring scholars from all corners of the world, assisting friends. Nobody who consulted Peter ever went away without help. He was always considerate to everybody: no matter who, cleaners, secretaries, colleagues, friends or relatives. If the definition of a gentleman is “someone who takes less than he is entitled to, and gives more than he is obliged to” then he was a Parfait Gentleman.

His early death is especially tragic because he was at the top of his intellectual powers, with the accumulated knowledge of a lifetime. After his retirement a year ago he had one burning aim in life: to be finally able to get down to write his major work for which he had been reading for at least ten years. It was all accumulating in his mind and would have been a great work of scholarship: on the history of anthropology encompassing social history, the history of religious thought, intellectual attitudes, social conditions—reaching back to mediaeval times. He asked a very competent American anthropological scholar and friend some years ago to co-write the book with him, but the friend declined, saying he simply did not have the breadth and depth of knowledge to be able to cope with a work of this magnitude. That book will now never be written.

Peter will also never know that he was recently nominated ‘Noted Scholar’ by the University of British Columbia and invited to lecture there for a term. The letter is still enroute. He would have been so pleased with this.

We mourn not only the loss to scholarship, to insight, to purpose and dedication, but even more the loss of a warm, outgoing human being, who was kind and generous to all who met him. Scholarship is the poorer for his death and we are all poorer for having lost a friend.

Pita, pren, bel bilong mipela hewi tumas, tasol mipela hamamas tumas long ologeta gutpela wok bilong yu. Gutbai pren, gutbai Pita.