Vale December 2010

ARTHUR, Michael John Ingham |  BATES, Roma Isabelle |  BISSET, Stan, MC, OAM, MID |  BOTTRIELL, George William |  BROWN, Kenneth Arthur |  CONROY, Bill, CBE |  DUNLOP, Robert (Bob) |  EVANS, Linda Mabel |  HOLLAND, Marjorie Ethel (Poppy) |  KEMISH, Albert Leonard (Len) Samuel |  MACILWAIN, Elizabeth Clare |  McKAY, Robin |  McKENZIE, Sharyn (neé Healey) |  McPHERSON, Ian Cluny |  McSWEENY, Belle Irene |  METZLER, Paul George |  MILLER, Malcolm Erskine (Mal) |  MOORHOUSE, Lucy |  O’MALLEY, Vere Pauline (neé Brien) |  PARKINSON, Victor Hugh, BEM |  RYAN, William Paul, OBE |  SELBY, Barbara | 

 

Roma Isabelle BATES (30 August 2010, aged 100)

Roma’s family association with Papua New Guinea began when her grandfather was a carpenter building the wireless station on Woodlark Island in 1914: this was later discontinued following the capture of Bitapaka, Rabaul, at the onset of WW1.After service in WW1, in the mid 1920s her father, Leo Kensington Bryant (1886-1969), applied for and was appointed Chauffeur to General Wisdom, the then Administrator of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. This position also entailed managing Government Transport and vehicle maintenance. As an aside, Leo as an older man, escaped the Japanese by walking the Bulldog track in 1942.

Roma arrived in Rabaul on the old Montoro with her mother and younger sister, Patsy (a member of PNGAA), in August 1927. Having trained as a stenographer, she worked for the Administration and because of her proficiency in shorthand did court reporting. Even into old age she took messages in shorthand to keep up her skills. Later Roma worked for Burns Philp in Rabaul for 10 years. She met her future husband, Charlie, in 1932, becoming engaged at Ramu Patrol Post (now Kainantu) staying with the Peardons. They married on 11 July 1934 at St Georges Anglican Church, Rabaul. Roma, an accomplished musician, was organist for Sunday services and weddings, this she continued for all her life in PNG. She was taught Morse Code by Ted Bishton so she could communicate with her husband who was banished to the Highlands for disobeying protocol in marrying her. In 1935 Roma travelled to Salamaua for the birth of her first child (Pat) so that Charlie could see his first born.

During WW2 she lived in South Caulfield, Melbourne, where her second child, Hilary, was born and then at Portarlington, Victoria, until returning to Rabaul to join her husband in 1946 on the old Reynella. Charlie at this time was District Officer in charge of the post-war rehabilitation of Rabaul having served as a Coastwatcher during WW2. Charlie was later posted in 1949 to Madang as District Commissioner but died at the early age of 45 years in 1954. Roma always said that in 20 years of marriage they were only together for 8 years due to extensive patrolling pre war and of course absence due to WW2. Roma’s third child, David, was born in Madang in 1950.

Following Charlie’s death, Roma was employed as the Secretary of the Madang Native Hospital and remained there until moving to Sydney in 1965. An inveterate traveller, there were not many places in the world that she had not visited, her favourite place being Antarctica.

Always keen on community affairs she recalled that after the 1937 Rabaul eruption it was the Frangipani trees that came into bloom first and she suggested they have a Frangipani Ball—this became, over time, an institution. After the war, in Rabaul in 1946, she seeded the idea of having village choir competitions, the local Tolai people being renowned for their natural harmony.

Roma was a founder and life member of the New Britain Women’s Club and other community organisations that she held office in were the Scouts, Guides, CWA, P&C, Golf, Bowls, native women’s groups and amateur dramatics. Roma later started the Madang Horticultural Society and was made Foundation President, the resultant Show being a resounding success. She said that she held every office except Treasurer!

While still living in Madang she was appointed as a Nominated Member of the PNG Legislative Council in 1961 and worked with Alice Wedega from Kwato in Milne Bay whom she greatly admired.

In the 1950s, while on leave in Australia, Roma was part of a small group which met in the old Nock and Kirby’s George St building who set up the Retired Officers Association of Papua New Guinea—now PNGAA. She was a long term Committee Member and was made a Co-Patron of that organisation with Freddie Kaad in 2001—incidentally, their friendship goes back many years to Madang days.

Her literary skills were well known and she contributed articles to the PNGAA Journal Una Voce. Her account of the opening of the Coastwatcher’s memorial Lighthouse in Madang is now a historic document and was printed in Una Voce in September 1999. Other articles being the hilarious account of a weekend charter flight to the Gusap Races and reminiscences such as Rabaul before the 1994 eruption and two articles covering revisits to PNG in 1995-96. Celebrating her 100th birthday in November 2009, the occasion brought together her family and her wonderful PNG friends.

Roma leaves 3 sisters, 2 daughters (her son predeceased her in 2009), 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. Right to the end Roma always maintained a love for and a keen interest in PNG affairs. Pat and Ross Johnson

 

Kenneth Arthur BROWN (25 April 2010, aged 84)

Ken was born in Dubbo on 15 July 1925 and spent his early years with his brothers and sisters before joining the RAAF on 11 February 1944. Ken had ambitions to be a pilot but this was not to be, due to a hearing problem. Ken was involved in the decryption of Japanese signals. His work in this area was recently acknowledged by the British Government Communications that operated out of the famous Bletchley Park in the UK.

Subsequent to his discharge from the RAAF in April 1946, Ken went to PNG in 1947 as a Cadet Patrol Officer and attended the Short and Long Courses at ASOPA, gradually working his way up to be a District Commissioner. He preferred to work at outstations amongst the village people and, in the 28 years up to the time of his retirement in 1975, served in Port Moresby, Daru, Maprik, Kairuku, Tapini, Rabaul, Bereina, Kerema, Sohano and Manus. Ken’s last outstation posting at Daru involved him in exchange visits with his Indonesian counterpart to keep in touch with what was happening on either side of the border with West Irian (old Dutch New Guinea). This last posting also saw the arrival, in 1972, of Benson Gegeyo and his family. Benson was one of four local officers selected to train as District Commissioners in preparation for the pending Independence.

Ken married Rosemary Grant, first born daughter of the Rev. and Mrs Ralph Grant of the Methodist Overseas Mission (MOM), Salamo, on Fergusson Island. The wedding took place at Kwato, Milne Bay District in December 1953. Ken is survived by wife Rosemary, and their children, Rosemary Anne, Brigette, Kenneth and their families. Rosemary Brown

 

Michael John Ingham ARTHUR (15 October 2009, aged 70)

Michael was born in Haberfield, Sydney, in 1939. He spent some time in new Zealand working on the Milford Track before settling in PNG. He was in Mendi from about 1968 to 1970 and in Mt Hagen in 1970-1978. Michael spent most of his work life as a motor mechanic. He worked with Mike Wells at Hagen Haulers and Norm Camps at Kala Motors. Michael was also a member of the gun club.

He met and married his wife, Pauline, in Mount Hagen in 1972. Their first son, Kingston, was born there in 1973. Their daughter Caroline was born in Melbourne in 1974 while Pauline was visiting family.

The Arthur family returned to Australia in 1978 to settle in Loganlea, south of Brisbane, where Michael remained for the rest of his life. Their third child, Travis, was born there in 1980. Michael is survived by his wife Pauline and their three children, Kingston, Caroline and Travis. Pauline Arthur

 

Reverend Albert Leonard (Len) Samuel KEMISH (29 August 2010, aged 79)

A-Coy, PNGVR. Former Parish Priest of Maryborough and Caboolture. Loved husband of Sheila and father of Deborah, Ian and Peter and their families. Courier Mail, 2 September 2010

 

Linda Mabel EVANS (1 September 2010, aged 96)

Linda was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, and had five brothers. Her brother Ernest went to Rabaul for Burns Philp, and while there his young wife died suddenly. Linda went to see him in Rabaul where she became friends with Hal Evans, Hal’s sister Gwen and Roma Bates. Linda and Hal married in 1938, in Dunedin, and the two went to Madang where Hal was Native Labour Officer. They had two daughters, Patty and Lynne, and a son, Hal Ernest (‘young Hal’).

In Madang Linda and Hal planned and promoted the Madang Golf Course and Linda developed a cottage industry in cane lounge chairs. About 1951 they moved to Kavieng, where Hal managed the New Ireland Natives Societies Association. In 1956 they left PNG for Sydney, where Patty was graduating from school. Linda was a skilled needlewoman and gardener, and got great pleasure with Hal from boating. Hal was President of PNGAA for some years to 1969 and Linda assisted him at functions and with other association activities. She is survived by her three children, daughter-in-law, six grandchildren and their families. Patty, Lynne and Hal Evans

 

Robert (Bob) DUNLOP (4 August 2010, aged 67)

Bob was born and grew up in Sydney, and travelled to Lae in early 1968. Bob was employed by Tom Richards (Pioneer Surveying) and worked in the Morobe District as a surveyor. Bob tells the story of having to book two seats on TAA from Sydney: one for himself and one for the computer which would assist with his field work. That same computer, surveyors now carry in their pockets.

Bob met Margaret Dunlop (neé Seale, daughter of Bill and Heather) at Bulolo Golf Club at Easter 1968, where Margaret was the kindergarten teacher. Bob and Margaret decided to make their home in Sydney where Bob started his own surveying business, Robert Dunlop & Co. (now Dunlop, Thorpe & Co.). Bob is survived by his wife Margaret, sons Andrew and Jeremy, daughter Sally, and two grandsons, Sam and Billy. Information supplied by Bob’s daughter, Sally Yarrow.

 

Robin McKAY (7 August 2010, aged 93)

Robin went to PNG in 1935, aged almost 18, and managed plantations for Burns Philp in the Wide Bay area on the south coast of New Britain. In 1940 he enlisted in the Australian Army and was sent to the Middle East. Two years later he joined the Allied Intelligence Bureau and was dropped behind enemy lines in the Bainings area with Z Special Force to carry out commando activities against Japanese forces. In late 1943 Robin, as part of M Special Force, was part of another drop into enemy territory, this time between Wewak and Aitape. Unfortunately on arrival they were ambushed. They counter-ambushed with some success, but their security was severely compromised so they decided to withdraw. They headed for Mt Hagen, living off the land and encountering hostile natives and Japanese sympathisers, arriving there three months after deployment.

After the war, Robin and his wife Laurie purchased the Aropa Estate, south of Kieta on Bougainville. The plantation had been run down during the war, and required much effort and hard work to bring it back to life. Robin brought the Hevea rubber trees back into production and extended the coconut and cocoa plantings. Robin and Laurie developed close ties with their Bougainvillean neighbours.

In 1964 they sold the plantation and spent some time in Sydney. They then moved to Western Australia where they developed a caravan park. Later they moved to Northern NSW where Robin started an avocado farm. Laurie died in 1997. Robin was a tough and brave pioneer, capable of great vision and an inspiration to many. He was respected by the local Papua New Guineans. Robin is survived by Bett Macartney, his loving friend of many years, and his three daughters, Jan, Serena and Debbie, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. From the PNG Consulate and Mike Dennis

 

William Paul RYAN, OBE (13 August 2010, aged 78)

Paul grew up in Camberwell, Victoria, and on leaving school joined the Commonwealth Bank. He then attended the Australian School of Pacific Administration as a Cadet Patrol Officer. It was at this time that he met the love of his life, Barbara: they married in 1956 and had a happy marriage of almost 55 years. Paul spent much of his working life in PNG, starting as a Patrol Officer in the 1950s. He was posted to Bougainville from 1952-56, working both in Sohano and Kieta.  Paul was posted to Talasea in 1957 and then spent four years in Tapini, after which he moved to Port Moresby to take up a position in the Public Service Inspector’s Office. Following undergraduate studies in Economics and Commerce at the University of Queensland, he progressed to senior levels in the PNG administration.  As Secretary of the Administrator’s Executive Council (1968-73) and subsequently as head of the Department of Chief Minister and Development Administration, Paul played a significant role in facilitating political transition in the lead-up to PNG independence in 1975.   

Paul worked closely with two Administrators (David Hay and, from 1970, Les Johnson) and with Members of the House of Assembly as they assumed greater political and ministerial powers before and after Self-government in 1973. His quiet support and leadership, common sense, sincerity and sense of humour eased the many and major adjustments required of parliamentarians and of expatriate and Papua New Guinean public servants during that intense and exciting period.  

Paul’s contribution to the development of PNG was widely acknowledged and he always maintained a great affection for the people. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1975 for his outstanding service to Papua New Guinea. Despite his significant successes, Paul remained modest and was known for his friendliness, generosity, sociability and wonderful sense of humour.

Paul and Barbara moved to Canberra in 1975 and Paul became Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the first non-Pharmacy executive director appointment to that organisation. In 1995, Paul and Barbara moved to Sydney, to the area where they had first met. In recent years Paul’s sight failed him and he became increasingly frail with dementia; however he always retained his essential essence, a man of character and humour, who loved his family and friends, and was compassionate and kind to all. Paul is survived by his wife Barbara, five children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Catherine Ryan

 

Barbara SELBY (22 September 2010)

Dearly loved wife of the late David Selby. Greatly loved mother of Alison, Lib and Bill. Adored grandmother of Sal, James, Jen, Kirsty, Dave, Janie and David. Loving great-grandmother of her 12 great-grandchildren. Loved and respected by Bruce, Robert, Dick and Sue, and Mel, Gary, Growler, Vick, Andrew and Libby.

 

Stan BISSET, MC, OAM, MID (5 October 2010, aged 98)

Stan, Australia’s oldest Wallaby rugby international, was one of the heroes of the Kokoda campaign in WWII. In 1939 he was selected to play rugby union for Australia, but WWII was declared before the tour of England began.

He joined the 2/14th Battalion with his brother ”Butch”. After arriving in Papua New Guinea in mid-1942, Stan (a Lieutenant intelligence officer) and Butch (a Lieutenant and platoon commander) were sent up the Kokoda Track to relieve the 39th Battalion at Isurava. At Isurava, outnumbered and outgunned, the battalion had its first major encounter with the Japanese, Butch was shot and, six hours later, passed away in Stan’s arms. Butch was buried on the Track.

Stan’s former commanding officer and lifelong friend, the late Phil Rhoden, said that Stan was one the finest men he had met. “He personified so many attributes of the Digger to me: courage (both moral and physical); compassion; selflessness; independence; loyalty; resourcefulness; devotion; coolness; and humour.”

In recent years there was barely a day go by without someone wanting to contact Stan and meet him. He gave his time and his support unstintingly. In 2000, Stan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to veterans, particularly through the 2/14th Battalion Association.

Stan is survived by Gloria and his children and grandchildren. Information from Kokoda Track Foundation, SMH and ninemsn

 

Paul George METZLER (17 October 2010, aged 96)

Group Captain, retired. Ex 11 Squadron RAAF (Catalina) Ex POW Japan

 

George William BOTTRIELL (10 June 2010, aged 83)

George passed away suddenly and very peacefully in the company of several friends enjoying one of his favourite pastimes. He had just hit a nice drive down the fairway and with the golf buggy in tow, set off for the chip to the green. He was born in Melbourne and at 18 joined the Navy serving on LSTs [Landing Ship Transports] and also spent nine months in Madang. Demobbed in March 1953, he took up employment in the office of the Commonwealth Department of Works, Port Moresby. He was based on Paga Hill and played table tennis in the Paga team.

Originally a choir boy in St Peters C of E, Murrumbeena, Melbourne, it was not long before he was singing in the choir at St John’s in Mary Street and was Church Secretary for a short time. It was here at the regular social gathering after a Sunday night even-song, in the rectory of Rev. HFG Randall and his wife, that George and I met and would subsequently become friends.

We teamed up with some success as a Doubles Pair competing in the Port Moresby Table Tennis Association Championships in 1954. In November 1954 he became a foundation member of the Papuan Philatelic Society, a small group of enthusiasts who enjoyed the once a month gathering, especially the suppers of coffee and cakes at the Yvonne Beadel residence at 4 mile or Boroko as it is now known. I joined the Society a couple of months later. He was not really a serious stamp collector but had a passion for picture post cards and became a member of the Australian Cartophilic Society.

The year 1955 saw the emergence of Australian Rules football on the ground at Konedobu. With George playing for Paga and myself playing for APC, we were now in opposing teams, but amongst the inaugural players. He was a last minute selection in the PNG Representative Team which played a couple of matches against teams in Northern Queensland in 1956.

Soon after, he returned to Melboume for the Olympic Games, and the following year married Dulcie. George is survived by wife Dulcie, son Stephen, daughter Karen and grandchildren Simone, Jade, Paul, Jacob and Mahalia. Ray Kelly

 

Malcolm Erskine (Mal) MILLER (16 August 2010, aged 75)

Mal was born in Leongatha, Victoria. He applied to become a teacher in PNG and from 1957 to 1959 taught at Daru and Kiunga primary schools, moving to Port Moresby and teacher training in 1960. By 1962 he was acting principal of Port Moresby Teachers College.

In 1963 he and Rosemary, who was teaching at a nearby school, married. Their daughter Jenny was born in Port Moresby in June 1964. A few weeks later the family moved to Wewak where Mal had been appointed District lnspector of Schools. In 1965 Mal was transferred to Sohano in the Bougainville District as District Inspector. Their son, David, was born in Sohano in May 1965. In 1968, the family moved to Goroka where they spent eight wonderful years. Mal was promoted to District Superintendent Grade 2. In June 1976, Mal’s 20 year career in PNG education came to an end when he took his “golden handshake” and moved back to Australia. Information from Ian Robertson, Murray Bladwell and Asopa blog

 

Belle Irene McSWEENY (21 October 2010)

Married George Barry Edward Allen on 20 December 1941. The late Mrs Allen suffered a long illness and was cared for by her eldest son in Brisbane. Albert Speer

 

Vere Pauline O’MALLEY  (neé Brien) (3 September 2010)

Vere was born in Port Moresby on 29 January 1926 to Mr and Mrs John Esmond Brien. John Brien was Secretary to the Administrator, Sir Hubert Murray. In World War 2, Vere served in the WRANS (Women’s Royal Australian Navel Service) and after Armistice was declared, she returned live in Port Moresby. There she met Louis James (Jim) O’Malley, noted for his pre-war exploratory patrols, particularly the 1935 Strickland-Purari patrol with Jack Hides. On 23 June 1949, Jim and Vere married at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Port Moresby and then were posted to Kikori in the Gulf District of Papua, later transferring to Kerema, also in the Gulf. Jim, now District Commissioner, with Vere and their children transferred to Lorengau, Manus District where they stayed until, due to Jim’s ill health, they retired to Sydney in 1968.

I knew Vere well, having lived at Kikori where our children were babies together and again at Lorengau where for some time we shared the teaching of Correspondence Schooling for our children. When personally challenged by Lady Baden-Powell to do “something” about Girl Guides, Vere accepted the position of Guide Commissioner culminating in being responsible for outfitting hundreds of girls in uniform. The Lorengau Girl Guides were officially declared the best turned out Guides in Papua New Guinea and publicity photos were shown in Australia. Vere was an ambitious person and on her return to Sydney she opened and managed a successful travel agency for many years until ill health forced her to retire. She was a good friend, a mother of two daughters, Maureen and Karen and two sons Michael and Paul and was much loved by them and their families. Nancy Johnston

 

Lucy MOORHOUSE (13 January 2010, aged 88)

Lucy worked with Public Health Department Goroka with Infant Welfare when my wife and I knew her and were blessed by her loving ministrations to us and to all with new born babies. Lucy, like all Infant Welfare Nurses, spent many long days on rough hand built roads taking infant health to all. Often accompanied only by a medical orderly and driver, they would go from meeting place to meeting place and meet the medical needs of both mother and child often to groups of up to a hundred women who waited patiently to have their babies treated. Nothing was too much for Lucy and her deep Christian commitment was observable by all. In the seven years my wife and I had in the Goroka Sub District, Lucy participated in the non-denominational group of Christians who got together of a Friday night in someone’s home. It was a privilege to have known Lucy and have her as a friend. Julian Pickrell on behalf of Suzanne and myself; 1958 Patrol Post Lufa; 1960-1965 Sub District Office Goroka. Our three children born 1958-1963 benefited by Infant Welfare services

 

Marjorie Ethel (Poppy) HOLLAND (9 October 2010, aged 80)

Known as “Poppy” to all, she came with husband Cyril and three children to Rabaul on 4 January 1961 on Cyril’s appointment as manager of Rabaul Trading Company Pty Ltd, an import/export firm in Kamarere Avenue.

Poppy was born in Madras, India, her father being an officer in the British Army. After school she became an air hostess for Air India International and survived two serious plane crashes before marrying Cyril in June 1952. The family emigrated to Australia in 1956. In Rabaul, Poppy was a well-known hostess for numerous gatherings associated with Cyril’s business interests and when he branched out in his own import/export business. He was later appointed secretary of the Planters Association of Papua New Guinea. Poppy left Rabaul in 1979 and settled in Hervey Bay, eventually moving to Rathmines, NSW. Cyril died in Brisbane on 11 August 1986. Poppy is survived by Suellen, twins Michele and Cecile, and their families. Maxwell Hayes

 

Sharyn McKENZIE (neé Healey) (4 February 2010, aged 62)

Sharyn was born on 27 February 1947 at the old army hospital in Wewak. She was the first white baby post war. Sharyn was brought into the world by Dr John McInerney and Matron Thorburn who was visiting from Port Moresby. When Sharyn arrived Dr Mclnerney announced that she looked like Tang Mao, the local Chinese trade store owner.

Whilst growing up with a father who was a medical assistant, her early life was spent in many outposts where Dad (Rhys Healey) built and managed hospitals. These outpost towns were Angoram (1947-1953), Wewak (1949), Lumi (1952), Vanimo (1953) and finally Port Moresby (1964).

Sharyn went to boarding school at St Marys in Atherton and then to St Margaret’s in Brisbane. She was very sporty and played netball, basketball, hockey and gymnastics.

After school she returned to Port Moresby to become a secretary and worked in the Public Health Department for Dr Jameson. She left Health to work for TAA before starting a business with her husband Colin McKenzie whom she married in 1968. Their first child Samantha was born in 1972. Later on Gemelle and Melindah were born.

Sharyn and Colin moved to the Sunshine Coast in 1980 and ran their own business in Maleny and Noosa. ln 1997 Sharyn moved to Manly where she lived until her death. She loved Manly, the sun and the sea. Sharyn also loved to travel and during her life travelled extensively. Peter Healey

 

Victor Hugh PARKINSON, BEM (1917-2010, aged 93)

Captain Victor Parkinson was on hand at the School of Civil Affairs, newly established by Colonel Alf Conlon, the Australian Army’s Director of Research, at Duntroon, early in 1945 to welcome the first intake of aspirant Patrol Officers attending a four month course. The Commonwealth, through the Army, and Conlon’s initiative, had moved towards preparing some of the staff that would be needed for the post war Government task at the conclusion of military administration in Papua New Guinea at the end of 1945. Then began Victor’s long association with what became the Australian School of Pacific Administration, and, over the years, with hundreds of young field staff people who moved on to PNG at the grass roots level to provide administrative services for the evolving population.

There is no doubt that over the almost thirty years of Victor’s direct association with ASOPA, he had a huge influence on the School’s development and modus operandi. His character traits of dedication, humility, courtesy, tolerance, respect for academic research and requirements of the law are those the School sought to inculcate in its students. His skills of problem solving, networking and diplomacy are the skills essential for field officers. The value of his work for ASOPA, and indirectly for PNG, cannot be quantified.

Victor grew up in Yallourn, a Victorian coal mining town, attended Melbourne High School, and was studying law at Manchester University, United Kingdom, when World War II began. He returned to Australia and enlisted in the army. He served in education units in Queensland and the Northern Territory before being head-hunted for the Directorate of Research.

While at ASOPA Victor took his civic spirit and interest in local government with him when he became a Councillor and then Mayor of Mosman from 1965 until 1970. He joined the Council of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) in 1965 and became President. In 1970 he was awarded the British Empire Medal. From 1978 till 1982 he was Chairman of the Australian council of National Trusts.

In 1975 the Parkinsons went farming in central western NSW and Victor died in Orange.He is survived by his wife, Marjorie, son John and daughter Lindy. June Whittaker and Harry West

 

Bill CONROY, CBE (13 September 2010)

Enlisting in the Army in 1942, Conroy served in Papua New Guinea with the Australian Army Medical Corps. This began a long association with the country. Serving with the Sydney University Regiment at the outbreak of war, Conroy was influenced by Alf Conlon, a brilliant and enigmatic figure who ran the Australian World War II Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. The “Directorate” provided reports on a broad range of topics judged to be of national importance, such as army health and nutrition, study of terrain and dietary standards of Papuans and New Guineans. Conroy finished his studies, but by the time he was due to receive his degree, in 1942, he had enlisted.

In New Guinea, Conroy was able to use his agriculture degree in his command of several malaria control units. At war’s end, he assisted in the demobilisation of Australian troops, and in June 1946 became part of a small group recruited as agricultural extension officers serving in Papua New Guinea. In 1947, at the age of 26, Conroy was part of the Nutrition Survey Expedition which included anthropologists, health experts and representatives of a range of sciences who undertook wide ranging research into various aspects of Papua New Guinea life.

In 1950, as the regional agricultural officer based in Madang, Conroy administered an area stretching from Finschhafen to Hube, which included the whole Highlands through to the then border of Dutch New Guinea. He was also a visiting lecturer in tropical biology and land use at the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) which had grown out of Alf Conlon’s Directorate.

In 1951, Conroy joined a group of scientists and eminent people called together by the Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, to forge a 25-year science policy and program, and worked alongside the likes of Sir Mark Oliphant. Conroy was a member of the Agriculture Strategy Committee and commissioner for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which launched the international rice hybridisation program and distribution of various cereal varieties selected for fertiliser response.

In March 1952, Conroy married Marie Colbron, who had been working as a laboratory assistant at Sydney University, and went to live in Port Moresby. Children followed: twins Stella and Susan born in 1953, Linda in 1954, Lawrie in 1961, all in Port Moresby, and Chris, born in Australia in 1963.

From the early 60s till 1973, Conroy was Director of the PNG Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries (DASF) and Chief Conservator of Fauna. He believed that the prosperity of the country must be based on extending the indigenous agricultural practices and customs for a sustainable social and economic future. This meant he was interested in the development of small landholdings and introducing new cropping ideas. Conroy was instrumental in developing coffee, tea, copra and palm oil as well as tick resistant cattle as agricultural industries with long term potential for the country. In 1967-68, he served in the PNG House of Assembly. From 1972 to 1976, Conroy held the position of secretary of the PNG Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence.

Conroy held numerous other posts with such bodies as the Research Council-South Pacific Commission, the International Cocoa and Coffee Agreements, various PNG Commodity, Marketing and Stabilisation Boards, and the FAO Land Use and Conservation Committee for South East Asia and South-West Pacific. In 1975, when Papua New Guinea gained Independence, Conroy was awarded the CBE for his services for the development of agriculture.

In 1978, Conroy and his wife settled in Avalon Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches peninsula. Conroy remained active, and became director of a tropical agricultural consultancy for five years. In 1993, at the behest of a local doctor, he became involved with tick disease research, working with Dr Bernie Hudson (Royal North Shore Hospital) and the Northern Beaches Tick Alert Support Group. Ian Spencer, secretary of the Careel Bay Residents Association, said: “His mind seemed ever active and his willingness to contribute inexhaustible.”

In 2000, Conroy received the Centenary Medal for his work in medical entomology during the war. He was also honoured for his work on the environment and on ticks in the Pittwater area. He is survived by Marie and his children, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Excerpted from the SMH, 21 October 2010 by Malcolm Brown

 

Ian Cluny McPHERSON (13 October 2010, aged 80)

After 5 years’ service in Victoria Police, Ian joined RPNGC on 22 June 1965. After a period in Port Moresby he, and another officer, formed the police public relations office at Konedobu, where he served for a couple of years. Service at various outstations followed. He was security officer for several Royal visits and served as chief instructor at the Joint Services College at Lae. Post PNG Independence in 1975, he served as Police Commander for the Morobe District before later being appointed as Commandant of the Police College, Bomana, at the rank of Chief Superintendent. His last posting was as Provincial Police Commander for the Central Province. His contract with the National Government expired on 31 December 1981. After PNG he spent many years as an investigator for Ansett Airlines. He is survived by Myra and three adult children. MR Hayes

 

Elizabeth Clare MACILWAIN (4 October 2010, aged 93)

Late of Philip Kennedy Nursing Home at Largs Bay, SA. Helen Macilwain

 

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