Vale December 2014

BOOIJ, Jan (Snr) (3 August 2014) | CLEZY, Gweneth Dorothy (13 June 2014) | DENT, Oswald George Gordon |  (6 August 2014) | GAULT, Roly (14 October 2014) | JOHNSON, Granger (22 July 2014) | OBERDORF, John Henry (3 July 2014} | PARRY, Colwyn Arthur(Col) (15 September 2014) | PEMBROKE, John (11 September 2014) | SHARP, Jack (13 September 2014) | TAIT, Bob (17 April 2014) | YOUNG (née Webb), Marie Phoebe  (25 September 2014) | WILD, Sir John Ralston, CSM, CBE, KSS, FRAIA (4 October 2014)


Jan BOOIJ (Snr) (3 August 2014, aged 88)

Jan Booij Senior was the fifty percent shareholder of the Hevilift Group that we all know today. A Group that through his skill as a businessman and negotiator now employs over five hundred people and has operations in five countries throughout the Asia Pacific region.

He was the first of the Booij generations to leave Holland and venture into the world. After surviving the Second World War, Dad joined the Dutch army as a volunteer joining the assault division. He left Holland in 1946, destination the island of Sumatra in Indonesia where he served until 1949. He returned to Holland and completed his trade as a master butcher and smallgoods maker. Fortunately for us, Dad could not see a future for himself in Holland, so he decided to volunteer and signed up for the Korean War, only to be convinced that Australia was a better option. Dad landed in Sydney, Australia on 12 September 1950. He spent the next 3 years travelling throughout Australia and New Zealand, taking odd jobs when and where required.

From Australia, Jan went to this new adventurous land called Papua New Guinea, where he aspired to become a coffee grower. He landed in Lae with 100 pounds to his name. He had numerous jobs from painting bridges to being a supervisor on the Lae wharf and then set out to start his own business, eventually ending up in Kainantu. In 1959, he travelled back to visit family and friends in Holland, where he was introduced to my mother, Dean. They married in 1961 and both returned to PNG and continued to build several businesses, some of which are still in operation today. Dad was a true pioneer and entrepreneur. He established amongst other things a butchery business, an engineering business, a general store, a cinema, several service station, a trucking business and, finally, Regional Air, that was the precursor to the Hevilift Group of today.

Jan’s affection for PNG and its people never waned. He believed that the success of humanity would be through education and his aim was to create the means to fund that vision. To that end, he was an active member in countless committees and Boards. He also sponsored countless individuals through schools, universities and trade apprenticeships.

Jan was an avid daily reader of numerous papers, including the Group’s quarterly Board papers, where he took great delight in quizzing us all on all the relevant issues of the day. Jan was active until the end. He was often in the Cairns office listening, providing guidance, encouragement, and frequently offering pearls of wisdom, always delivered with his great sense of humor.

Looking back at Dad’s life, we can see that he learned many lessons. A relatively carefree and happy childhood in the Netherlands laid the groundwork for Dad’s deep-rooted trust in life’s opportunities and his strong belief in the core values of honesty, integrity, forgiveness, hard work, family and not to be afraid to have a go. Values that are embedding in Hevilift. The hard war years revealed to the adolescent boy the dangerous side of life and taught him how to survive in adverse circumstances. Jan learned how to collaborate and take responsibility as a soldier in Indonesia, and he enjoyed his freedom whilst travelling through Australia, New Zealand and finally Papua New Guinea. In PNG, he settled down to build his business, establish his family and secure their future. Dad’s family and his business became international. Jan still maintained family ties within the Netherlands, and had friends in different places around the world. He was actively involved in business collaboration with PNG partners and still had his PNG passport.

When asked relatively recently about his future, Dad said: “I am still on the bus, but I do not know when the bus will stops and where I will be asked to get off.” He was prepared for this to happen, but he was not in a hurry! Dad’s past had become a future for many people to whom he endeavoured to pass on his attitude to life and his large life experiences. However, his life also created a future for people in Papua New Guinea, who learned from him and who are now in a successful business partnership with him.

Perhaps the most important message for us all is to be open to opportunities that life offers. The greatest opportunities may be where and when one does not expect to find them. So it may be true that Dad’s life is now history, but it is also a history for the future, because the journey is just as important as the destination.

Dad died aged 88 after a short illness. He died with dignity and with his three sons, Jan Jnr, Gerard and I by his side.

Jan Booij Senior was the last of his generation. He lived a full life with compassion, humor and absolutely no regrets. Jan Booij


Gweneth Dorothy CLEZY (13 June 2014, aged 85)

Gwen arrived in Rabaul in January 1961 when Ken was posted to Nonga as surgeon. She accompanied him to India in 1964, when he spent the year studying the reconstructive surgery of leprosy with Paul Brand. Subsequent postings were Madang, Port Moresby and Goroka. Wherever Gwen lived her gracious hospitality especially endeared her to nurses, surgical trainees and the many outstation missionaries who stayed with the Clezys when stuck in town.

In his memoirs Now in Remission, Ken said that his various awards were really half hers, because he was utterly dependent on her for so much of his energy and enthusiasm. As well as providing backup for a busy surgeon Gwen raised five children, two of them born in PNG.

Gwen left PNG with Ken in 1988 for Burnie, Tasmania, where her skills as a hostess again endeared her to all who knew her. Her final overseas service was at the Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen from 1999 to 2005. Gwen was one of very few women who returned to Jibla after three American staff members were shot dead by a Muslim extremist in 2002. Her unflappability, previously demonstrated under great stress in Goroka, was admired by Yemenis and others alike.

Her standing-room-only memorial service at the Burnside Family Church, Adelaide, was a triumphant celebration of a life of service to others. Gwen leaves her husband of 60 years, 3 daughters and a son, 17 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Ken Clezy


Oswald George Gordon DENT (6 August 2014, aged 96)

Os was well known in Wewak and Lae in the late 50s, 60s and 70s. He was born in Sydney, educated at Trinity Grammar School and began his career as a surveyor with the Sydney firm J.B Finney & Sons in 1936.

Os joined the AIF at the outbreak of World War 2 and served with the 1 Survey Co, 2/1 Australian Survey Regiment and the 2/7 Australian Survey Battery in the Middle East and New Guinea. After the war, Os joined the Department of Main Roads and in 1949, by now married to Bettye and with two young children, settled in Taree, NSW. He conducted a survey practice in the Taree district until 1958 when he joined the TP&NG Lands Department and was posted to Wewak. One extremely interesting period for Os in 1960 was spent in the Western District on the Fly River. Os left the family in Wewak—where by this time Bettye had become a popular and integral part of the District Office staff—and spent several weeks with Papuan Gulf identity John Senior and a Dutch Government Surveyor on that part of the river which crosses the 141st meridian. This was a joint Australia-Dutch Government venture aimed at normalising the border and putting permanent markers in place in readiness for the handover of Dutch New Guinea to the Indonesians.

Os transferred to Lae in 1965 where he remained until retirement in 1977. During his last few years in Lae he lectured at the University of Technology, passing on his knowledge and experience to young emerging local surveyors. Upon retirement, Os and Bettye moved to Harrington NSW and later to Buderim Qld. He was a pillar of the RSL wherever he lived, President and Trustee in Taree and becoming a Life Member whilst in Lae. He was especially active in fostering goodwill between ex-Diggers and local ex-servicemen. Lawn Bowls was another important part of Os’ long life and, while in Wewak, he was instrumental in the construction of a Bowling Green. He represented TP&NG at the Edinburgh and Christchurch Commonwealth Games and at the 1972 World Bowls Tournament in England.

Os was a dedicated and diverse community man: a member of the militia (pre-war) and the CMF (post-war), a member of the Buderim Male Choir, involved in a Buderim discussion group known as The Philosophers, and active in the Sunshine Coast Beekeepers Association. He was the volunteer Postman at his retirement village and the author of a work on the volunteering culture: Australia 1788-World War 2, a non-political view of the evolution of volunteering and the reasons that made this virtue such a part of the Australian psyche.  Os was a thorough gentleman. 

He is survived by Bettye, Cecily and Christopher, 4 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren and is sadly missed by a large extended family and his many friends. Cecily Odgers


Roly GAULT (14 October 2014)

No further details available.


Granger JOHNSON (22 July 2014, aged 84)

On 22 July 2014, former PNG resident Granger Johnson passed away at Lulworth House, Elizabeth Bay, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1960, Granger and Deirdre Johnson went to Rabaul. Granger had taken up a commercial role with W R Carpenter & Co. The principal business of WR Carpenter & Co was the purchase of island produce and the selling of general merchandise.

In their early days in Rabaul, Granger and Deirdre met many people who would become (and remain) very good friends. These people included the various members of the Coote, Copland, Mitchell, Stobo, West and Wilson families.

In 1962, Granger and Deirdre’s first child, Roddy, was born. In 1964, Sally was born. Both babies were born at Namanula Hospital, which was built with brown paper walls.

In 1968, Granger and Deirdre moved to Ulaveo, near Kokopo. Granger was involved with managing the new desiccated coconut factory, which was located there.

In 1969, Granger and Deirdre moved to Port Moresby. While working for W R Carpenter, Granger managed to find the time to study for a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Papua New Guinea. Also in 1969, Granger and Deirdre’ Johnson’s third child, Luke, was born in Port Moresby. The hospital walls were made of a more substantial material.

In 1974, Granger graduated with his law degree from UPNG. At the graduation ceremony, the Duke of Edinburgh presented Granger with his law degree. Subsequently, Granger left W R Carpenter & Co to practice as a solicitor with the Port Moresby firm McCubbery, Train, Love & Thomas.

Granger had many and varied interests while in PNG. He had close connections with the following bodies or institutions: the Rabaul Town Advisory Council; Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce; Sogeri Senior High School; Papua Yacht Club; and the University of Papua New Guinea.

In early 1977, Granger and Deirdre moved to Sydney, primarily so that their children could pursue their education in Australia.

While living in Sydney, and until the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, Granger’s primary connection with his PNG friends was through the Stobo family and ‘the PNG lunches’, which they arranged. Granger used to enjoy discussing all aspects of PNG life with his ‘wantoks’ at these enjoyable gatherings. Roddy Johnson with Deidre Johnson


John Henry OBERDORF (3 July 2014, aged 68)

John was born just after the end of WW2 in Sydney on 18 December 1945. His father’s family came from Germany, travelling to Australia in 1850, while his mother was from Yule Island in the Territory of Papua.

After the War, the family returned to Papua, first to Rigo, then to Port Moresby where, in 1953, John joined his elder brother, Albert, at Ela Beach Primary School. In 1954, they transferred to Boroko Coronation Primary School. Even at this early age, John displayed his leadership qualities. He was appointed school captain in 1956. From 1957 to 1962, John was a boarder at Mount Carmel College in Charters Towers, Queensland. He was very sporty and at college played A Grade cricket and tennis as well as representing the school in running and high jumping.

After leaving college, John joined the PNG Treasury Department in 1963 and started on his long career in the Public Service where he was always highly respected for his fair mindedness and calm management style. He was a brilliant winger and represented Papua against New Guinea from 1963 to 1975, as well as Papua New Guinea against Australia in 1968.

John’s contribution to Papua New Guinea was recognised in 2000, the 25th Silver Jubilee of PNG’s Independence.  The then Governor-General, Sir Silas Atopore, wrote to him and stated:

Your invaluable services given to the state in its bid to build PNG has not gone unnoticed.

On this joyful occasion when we celebrate our 25 years of independence together as one people and one country, I would like to personally pay tribute to and congratulate you and all who have worked together with you in building our country to what it is today.

In 1975, John relocated to Canberra, where he worked in mainly health related departments until his retirement. On 19 January 2004, the then ACT Minister for Health, Simon Corbel, wrote to John saying:

My warmest congratulations to you on the occasion of completing forty years service with the Public Service.

 Not only have you given service to the ACT community over a long period of time, you have done so with outstanding dedication and skill to the benefit of Canberra’s citizens … your friendly approach and willingness to assist anyone has endeared you to both your work mates and your colleagues across the Territory and, I as Minister, appreciate your continued commitment to excellence and setting the standard for customer service.

John never married but to him family was paramount. He extended this sentiment to more than his immediate family, becoming an important part of so many other families where he became a favourite uncle. Albert Oberdorf


Colwyn (Col) Arthur PARRY, QPM, PLS&GC Medal,  POS Medal (which arrived a day after his death) (15 September 2014, aged 85)

Col died at Peregian Springs, Buderim, Queensland, aged 85. He was born at Bitalovo, Kokopo, near Rabaul on the Gazelle Peninsula, TNG, on 1 October 1928, where his father Reginald Arthur Parry was Senior Medical Assistant at the Kokopo Hospital.

With his mother Annie Barbara he was evacuated on the Burns Philp Macdhui along with other Rabaul wives and children in late 1941, a bare few weeks before Rabaul fell to the Japanese on 23 January 1942. His father stayed behind to look after his patients and was one of the many who perished in subsequent Rabaul events early in 1942 when captured by the Japanese at the fall of Rabaul. Along with 1,053 soldiers and civilians, he was lost off Luzon in the Philippines on 1 July 1942 when the US submarine Sturgeon torpedoed the Japanese POW vessel Montevideo Maru.

Col (as he was widely known), first joined the post-war Royal Australian Navy serial, number 32697,in 1948 but felt the call to his homeland, resigning in 1951. He returned to TPNG and was appointed to the Administration on 3 October 1949 as a storeman in government stores, a branch of the Department of the Treasury. In 1952, he was storekeeper at Rabaul and it was here that he was invited to join the combined post-war Royal Papuan Constabulary and New Guinea Police Force on 4 October 1952.

He later served at Lae, Madang, Port Moresby, again at Rabaul on three occasions, Bomana Police College as acting Commandant, later at Konedobu as acting assistant Commissioner of Police, finally as OIC of the RPNGC Reserve and was retrenched under the ASAG Permanent Officers Employment Security Scheme on 20 July 1975 as Senior Superintendent.

On returning to Australia, he pursued academic studies and worked in these roles for some years before retiring to his 40-acre property (named “Bitalovo”) at Mount Samsan and later Buderim. His wife, Jean, pre-deceased him in 2007. Daughters, Roslyn and Rhonda (twins), Catherine and his two granddaughters survive him. His funeral was at Buderim on Friday 19 September. M.R. Hayes and E. Sanders


John PEMBROKE (11 September 2014, aged 73)

John was born on 19 October 1930 at Biggenden, Qld, and died on 11 September 2014, aged 73, at Bethania after a long illness. He joined the Queensand Police as a cadet on 19 February 1948 and resigned on 23 February 1958 as Constable (first class). John was appointed to the RP&NGC on 9 March 1958. He served widely in PNG, at Port Moresby, Lae (4), Wau, Mt Hagen (2), Bomana, Wewak, Rabaul, Mendi and Madang. He was retrenched under the Permanent Officer Employment Security Scheme on 9March 1974, being then involved with the Royal Tour to PNG.

On returning to Australia he worked in the Queensland Public Service for several years during which time he became involved in Chinese holistic health and acupuncture attaining several Diplomas and Degrees. E. Sanders and M.R. Hayes


Reverend Jack SHARP (13 September 2014, aged 88)

Jack began his ministry as a Probationer in the Wagga Wagga Methodist Circuit in 1946 but it was his work initially with Methodist Overseas Missions in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands from 1950 to 1982 for which he will be so warmly remembered.

The rich tapestry of his ministry in Papua New Guinea is reflected by an initial six years of ministry at Namatanai on New Ireland, and then a further six years at Raluana which were followed by six years as Chairman of the New Guinea Islands District.

Rev. Sharp then served for four years as the first Moderator of what was then known as the United Church of PNG and the Solomon Islands and then a further four years as Secretary Treasurer before moving back to parish work at Arawa. Rev. Sharp’s time of service in Arawa is now recognised in the Sharps Memorial Youth Centre, constructed by the United Church.

In January 1983, after 32 years involved in missionary and ministry work in the Pacific, Jack and his wife Winsome returned to NSW and to a Settlement within the NSW Synod at Windsor-Richmond.

Jack retired in September 1988 and he and Winsome moved to live in South Windsor until his death. With thanks to Uniting Church of Australia

Jack’s wife Winsome wrote:

Jack Sharp (7 September 1926 to 13 September 2014) was born at Gosford, NSW, while his parents had a citrus orchard at Kulnura. His primary schooling was at Kulnura and Peats Ridge and then to Gosford High School. While there he was a scout leader and a Lieutenant in the cadets. From an early age, he knew he wanted to be a missionary. He was a Sunday school teacher and, as it was wartime, started taking services at the age of 17.

After high school, he went to BHP Newcastle as an apprentice metallurgist, but later asked to be released (from the apprenticeship) to study for the ministry.

On 18 March 1950, he married Winsome and they arrived in PNG on 13 April 1950.

He served at Namatanai, New Ireland, then Rabau, New Britain. In 1962 he was elected as Chairman of the New Guinea Islands Methodist Missions District, and the Sharps moved to Rabaul. He was involved in the preparation for Church Union which came about in January 1968. He was elected as the first Moderator of the United Church in PNG and Solomon Islands.

After 4 years as Moderator, he moved to Arawa in Bougainville. He returned to Australia in 1982 after 32 years in Papua New Guinea. He served the Uniting Church at Windsor NSW until ill health forced him to retire in 1988. He had various health problems from then on and passed away suddenly at home on 13 September 2014.


Bob TAIT (17 April 2014, aged 70)

Bob was a Maroubra Coogee boy, born in Sydney to Tom and Jessie Tait. He was educated at South Sydney Secondary Technical School.

He completed his apprenticeship in Fitting and Machining in 1965. As a fitter and turner, he became a first class machinist and welder special class, and later with experience became skilled as a gas welder, tool fitter, heavy equipment fitter, diesel and motor mechanic. In 1966, Bob sailed to Canada on the Oronsay and after working in several positions, became Second Engineer on board West Whale #5 operated by Western Canada Whaling, Vancouver. Bob returned home to Sydney on the Himalaya.

Bob answered an advertisement and arrived in New Guinea on 26 February 1968, to work for Tutt Bryants Goroka and then Kainantu Motors in Kainantu. He was employed there as a diesel fitter maintaining trucks, vehicles and heavy machinery on the Highlands highway.

He married Annette Harvey-Jackson in 1969 at Kainantu. Annette was from Sydney and was a maternal and childcare health-nursing sister. They later moved to Mount Hagen with Public Works Department.

After returning south, Bob was a self-employed contractor in mining areas, owner builder of two houses, owner operator of a coin operated laundry and contract laundry. His interests were speed skating, hockey, driving fast cars, and involved with APEX Meals on Wheels. He could turn his hand to anything. His family called him “Bob the Builder”. Bob swam on Sawtell Beach at 7 am almost every morning for the best part of thirty years.

Bob is truly missed by Annette and family: Zita, Barry, Robbie and Angie. Grandchildren Josh, Chloe, Addison, Ashton and Ethan. Brother in Law Brother Peter Harvey-Jackson who was an MSC Missionary at Sideia Island Milne Bay. Annette Tait

Sir John Ralston WILD, CSM, CBE, KSS, FRAIA Ralston, CSM, CBE, KSS, FRAIA (4 October 2014

Tribute on website of Royal Papua Yacht Club can be read HERE


Marie Phoebe YOUNG (née Webb) (25 September 2014, aged 94)

Marie came to New Guinea with her husband Ernest in the early 50s and spent time in Port Moresby and Wewak, then moved to Rabaul in 1954. She worked for Post and Telegraphs in Rabaul and enjoyed the social scene and the ever-loving golf. In 1965, there was a transfer to Port Moresby for six years, then a posting to Mount Hagen from 1971 to 1973. Ernest received orders to return to Moresby, Marie returned to Sydney.

Marie enjoyed life, and at times was very colourful. Marie had a keen interest in golf and later in life was an aspiring bowler. On returning to Australia, Marie and Ernie enjoyed traveling. They resided in Sydney, Collector, and Brisbane then eventually settled down in Caloundra, Queensland.

Her daughter Sandra and son Warren survive her. Warren Young

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