Vale March 1990

BARRETT, Phylis |  BURT, Rachel |  GEE, Cassandra Robyn |  KILAGE, Sir Ignatius, GCMG |  MARRIOTT, Sister Jan (neé Balks) |  OLROYD-HARRIS, Joyce Dorothy |  WILLIAMSON, Kenneth Raymond | 


Joyce Dorothy OLROYD-HARRIS (13 January 1990)

Joyce was born in 1901 and completed her nursing training at Wallsend Mining District Hospital on 23 March 1927. In 1930 she attended a course in Midwifery and Obstetric Nursing at the Women’s Hospital (Crown Street) Sydney. She worked at various hospitals until 26 January 1937 when she left Melbourne on board the Canberra for New Guinea. Her first position was at Wau where she stayed until 1939. She transferred to Madang on 31 May 1939 as Senior Sister where she stayed until 7 December 1941 at which time she transferred to Rabaul as Matron. Her job at Rabaul was to last only 6 weeks as she was taken prisoner by the Japanese in January 1942. She was liberated in Japan on 31 August 1945, 3½ years after being captured.

Joyce returned to New Guinea in 1947 and was to continue her work until her forced retirement due to ill health in 1959. Between 1955 and 1976, Joyce made a number of trips overseas travelling the world. In 1979 she spent 2 weeks in China and her last trip was in 1986, when she was to experience her first helicopter journey at the age of 85. It was not to be just an ordinary helicopter ride but a flight to one of the highest glaciers in Alaska. In between overseas visits Joyce travelled to all parts of Australia from top to bottom and side to side always learning something from each visit. In 1980 she attended a residual course in effective communication at the University of New England, returning at a later date for a study on the writings of A J Tolkien.

She was active in various organisations and in her church. She enjoyed her trips with the C of E Historical Society and her work with the Harbour Lights Guild of the Mission to Seamen. She was Treasurer of our Association from 1965 to 1979 and was a Life Member and Patron of the NSW Ex-Prisoners of War Associated Ladies Auxiliary. She supported the Australian Ballet, The Australian Opera and the Elizabethan Trust. Also the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Trust and the Australian Geographic Society. Many charities have benefited financially or in kind from her support. Children’s charities were a favourite of hers. MS Research, National Heart Foundation and Royal Blind Society are just a few of those who received assistance. In 1987, though in excellent health, she was forced to leave her home of 26 years at Chatswood. She moved to a larger unit in Epping. After a couple of falls during the winter of 1989 she had nursing care at home and it was suggested that she move to a nursing home for the more constant care. She had another serious fall and moved from the Lady Davidson Rehabilitation Hospital to the Anglican Chesalon Nursing home at Beecroft, during the first week of November 1989. Joyce had another bad fall and passed away 13 January, 1990. Her life should be an inspiration to us all. Joyce, we Salute you!


Rachel BURT (19 February 1990)

Mrs Burt was the widow of Edward McGain Burt, who was a Medical Technician in PNG until he retired in 1964 and passed away in 1967.


Kenneth Raymond WILLIAMSON (18 November 1989)

Ken was born 17 August 1920 and went to PNG as a Patrol Officer on 28 July 1946. After serving for some years in the field service he was appointed Commissioner for Local Government, a position he held for many years until his retirement in 1974 to Tweed Heads in NSW.

It was under Ken’s competent direction that local government developed and prospered throughout PNG. He was highly regarded by his friends and his staff. Bob Tebble, who worked with Ken for many years, has written as follows: “I can say honestly say that of my 20 years in PNG the most fulfilling and enjoyable were those I spent working with Ken. I always found him helpful and appreciative and I can look back with considerable pleasure on my time in the Office of Local Government”.

On retiring to Tweed Heads Ken played some bowls, but I understand his main loves were orchids and opera. He died in Greenslopes Hospital after a long protracted illness and was cremated at Tweed Heads on 23 November 1989. Most of the Gold Coast residents who were ex PNG HQ Local Government staff were at the funeral, Worcester, Hayes and Bridges and local ex Kiaps Webb, Pegg, Hurrell, Bunting, together with Thelma Leabeater who with Tom was a very close friend. The service was conducted by an old RN Padre, who came from the same place as Ken, Launceston. Ken was in the Navy and served most of his time in corvettes. Ken is survived by his widow Gloria and their daughter and family.


Cassandra Robyn GEE (26 November 1989)

Cassandra was born in Vunapope, New Britain, on 19 August 1972, the oldest child and only daughter of Ken Gee and his wife Robyn (neé Seymour). She spent the first few years of her life in New Guinea and moved with her parents to Montville, Qld. She received her early education at Montville and later at Kilcoy. She excelled at creative writing and was selected to attend a camp for students with similar gifts. She entered Concordia College in 1985 and, successfully completing her year 12 in 1989, she had been notified of her acceptance in the University of New England.

She is remembered by fellow students and teachers as an energetic and self-giving happy individual who was both sensitive and creative. She was well liked for her loyalty, laughter and enjoyment of life.

Cassandra died as the result of a traffic accident near her home in Warwick. Her father and younger brother Michael both sustained serious injury at the time. She leaves to mourn her passing, her father Ken, her mother Robyn, her brothers Kenneth, Michael and Christopher and her grandmother, Lorna Binnie (nee Nicholls, wife of Bill Nicholls, PNG postmaster). (Ken Gee was in PNG for 26 years and was with the Lands Department when he left.)


Sister Jan MARRIOTT (neé Balks) (September 1989)

Jan served in the Madang Hospital in the sixties and helped to nurse Freddie Kaad when he was involved in the aircrash of 3 September 1964 in the foothills of the Finisterre Mountains, near Dumpu in the Ramu Valley. Jan also nursed Freddie on the journey to Sydney where he was transferred two weeks after the crash.She is survived by husband Colin and children Louise and Christopher.


Phylis BARRETT (November 1989)

Phyl was the wife of George Barrett, who would be remembered as an architect with Comworks. He later became a planter at Popondetta on either Haugata or Serobi Plantation. She is survived by her husband George.


Sir Ignatius KILAGE, GCMG (1940 – 1989)

[Eulogy delivered by Sir William Prentice at a Memorial Service at St Mary’s Cathedral, 5 January 1990, and printed in the March 1990 Una Voce at page 3.]

Born in 1940 a village boy in the valleys leading to Mt Wilhelm, the highest mountain in Papua New Guinea, some 6 or 7 years after the first European penetration of the Highlands, Ignatius Kilage grew to be a man who humbly achieved greatness. He was selected to attend primary school in the Western Highlands and at Vuvu in East New Britain, where he continued to preliminary studies for the priesthood at Ulapia Chanel College in 1958. He later did a further year’s academic study in Queensland before, in 1963, taking up Theology at Madang Seminary from which he graduated and was ordained priest in 1968.

After some years of priestly ministry in the Chimbu, during which he served on various boards and Committees, he sought and obtained release from his vows from Pope Paul VI. He took up other duties which included chairmanship of the Public Service Commission.

At Independence he was appointed Chief Ombudsman, and proceeded to build up a strong organisation in that Commission to his own design. His work there, under difficult conditions, gave tremendous satisfaction; but he declined reappointment for a second term.

On suspension of the Simbu Provincial Government, he administered that Province for some 18 months, and re-established stable government. Later he became principal advisor to the Highland-born Prime Minister Paias Wingti. He contested the 1987 general elections, finishing runner-up for the Regional Chimbu Seat for Parliament.

He was a man of wide interests which included literature: he had published a novel, My mother called me Yaltep, covering the period of first European penetration of the Highlands (it is not, he told me, autobiographical); and he was prominent in the administration of Rugby League in Port Moresby, it being the principal sport of the country.

His equability and firmness of decision were illustrated for me when I was recalled from circuit to give my vote in a commission as to a most important appointment. (In my absence the vote had been tied between two candidates). I offered my opinion, and sketched reasons therefore. The responsible Minister tried to brow-beat me into changing my mind, indulging in a fierce eyeball and shouting confrontation. Present was Ombudsman Ignatius who merely said quietly but firmly  “All right Minister: you’re outvoted. Next business please”.

Another facet of his character, his abundant humour, was revealed when he came to Sydney only a few weeks ago, a very ill man. He was to undergo visits with professors of medicine, one a PNG man one a Sydney man. Speaking on the phone I asked what were his symptoms. He sounded depressed, so jokingly I said, as he detailed them: “It sounds very much like AIDS to me.” I could almost see through the phone the teeth flash, his coal black eyes glint with fire as he shouted “You ” followed by an epithet which in Australian speech can carry meanings from intense anger to the greatest affection. Chuckling, I suggested “Your Excellency: that doesn’t sound like proper vice-regal language”. I fancy he may have picked up such speech patterns in the seminary! We went on an excursion the next day to Manly, and we made our goodbyes: he knew then he was dying.

Ignatius was a man of great personal dignity, ability, firmness, honesty and sincerity. He evoked affection and respect in all who knew him. He was a true and caring friend: he loved God, his family and his country, with a special feeling of course for his own people the Chimbus. I had stayed with him and his family on the three occasions on which I have returned to PNG since my resigning office as Chief Justice, and I shared the patently happy family life there at Boroko.

He leaves with us his wonderful wife Regina and four fine children: the eldest girl now schooling in North Queensland, the youngest about 2. We extend our sympathy to them in the loss of such a devoted husband and father. PNG has lost one of its most distinguished sons; and as he conferred on me the honour of referring to me as his PAPA, so I too have lost a much loved son.

Ignatius Kilage, Knight Grand Cross of Saint Michael and Saint George, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Knight of St. John of Jerusalem: you have returned to your Maker. We thank HIM for you and we salute you. Perhaps you will now intercede for us.

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