Vale March 2008

ABBERTON, Joan |  BECKETT, Leslie Thomas WilliamBROWN, JohnBONNELL, Susanne (Susy) |  D’ARCY,Colonel Peter Derek |  FITZGERALD, John (Fitzy) |  GILLIES, Les |  GILLMAN, Jim |  MATHESON, Robert Graham |  NOMBRI, Sir Joseph |  PARRY, Jean Isabel |  SULLIVAN, Des |  TAYLOR, Archibald Norman  |  WESSELY, Fred | 


Joan ABBERTON (7 November 2007, aged 87)

Late of Runaway Bay, formerly of Port Macquarie and Papua New Guinea. Beloved wife of Tom (Deceased), loved mother of Grahame and Tim and their families. Joe Nitsche and the Sydney Morning Herald, 12 November 2007


Leslie Thomas William BECKETT (26 November 2007, aged 76)

Les was born on 3 February 1931 at Regent’s Park, London. After completing two years of active service in the Korean conflict, he went to Libya where he was employed as a mine disposal expert in the desert areas near Tripoli and Benghazi. Having been sent home to London for minor surgery, he contracted a golden staph infection which, for Les, marked the beginning of a life-long battle against this antibiotic-resistant bug. However, the constant debilitating illness and need for major surgery was never enough to stop Les from somehow following his dreams.

So in 1964 he and his wife June moved to Australia but, unable to settle, they soon landed in the Territory of PNG (as it then was) where Les quickly obtained employment as the Rabaul Manager of J.C. Waller Shipping Agency. Four very happy years in East New Britain saw the closure of the agency but Les managed to find other employment for two further years in Lae, reluctantly having to leave PNG for good just prior to the declaration of Independence. Les always referred to this six-year period as one of his happiest experiences but, even though his fight against debilitating illness continued for a further thirty years, he never relinquished his love of travel and adventure. Having married again in the 80s, he and his new wife, Ann, went to live in Hong Kong for four years, eventually returning to Forestville, NSW. Les was a kind and gentle man. He died peacefully at home and will be sorely missed by many people. Ann Beckett


Susanne (Susy) BONNELL (23 December 2007, aged 67)

Californian-born Susy, a 24-year-old adventurer with an interest in anthropology, was on a three-year work contract at a Sydney library when, in the early 1960s, she took a trip to PNG. A job offer for an interesting new community welfare position was irresistible. She started work in New Guinea in 1964, serving as a government Welfare Officer in Mt Hagen, New Ireland and Port Moresby and becoming known for some of her innovative work with PNG village women. Her daughter Sali was born while she was in Moresby. She later taught at the Admin College and Vudal Agricultural College. From 1989 to 1991 she was employed at the Porgera mining project and assisted with the relocation of villagers affected by mine operations. Until the late 90s she worked as an independent social development consultant to various mining companies. During her long career she inspired a large number of PNG women with the confidence to deal with change and to speak out for their rights. Susy retired to Brisbane and later moved to North Tamborine. She is survived by her daughter Sali and two grandsons. Judy (Peters) Duggan



Unfortunately no further details available


Colonel Peter Derek D’ARCY (5 December 2007, aged 84)

Colonel Peter D’Arcy was a senior staff officer at PNG Command, Murray Barracks, in the 1960s. He died in Canberra in December. During WW2 he served with the Indian Army’s 11th Sikh Regiment, taking part in the Arakan campaign and the great battle on the plains of Imphal Kohima. Colonel D’Arcy joined the Royal Australian Regiment in 1948 and served in Korea and later with the ANZUK force in Singapore. His final overseas posting was as defence attaché in Cambodia. He is survived by his widow Barbara, three daughters Georgie, Libby and Angela, and seven grandchildren. Don Hook


John ‘Fitzy’ FITZGERALD (11 October 2007, aged 76)

Fitzy spent four years as Managing Editor of the South Pacific Post, Papua New Guinea’s only daily paper. John Fitzgerald is survived by his wife of 50 years, Arline, two daughters and three granddaughters. Richard Jones


Les GILLIES (6 November 2007, aged 89)

Les, LP to a chosen few, first arrived in PNG during WWII. In 1947, at the completion of his army service, Les returned to PNG and remained for the remainder of his working life. Les’ contributions to PNG were numerous and varied. Those who personally knew Les would know that he dedicated his life to PNG and its people. That was just the type of man he was. Les worked and lived in Lae, among other places throughout the Morobe Province before moving to Goroka and the Highlands. Les became renowned throughout the highlands for his work ethics, sporting prowess and infamous lunches. Merv, Les’ brother, was by his side during many of the lunches and rugby matches. On the rugby field, the Gillies were a force to be reckoned. Les is survived by his sister in Temora and Merv and his family at Hervey Bay. Lisa Adams


Jim GILLMAN (16 November 2007)

Lately of the Garden City Retirement Home, Upper Gravatt, Jim was Treasury Officer Rabaul. Albert Speer (More next update)


Robert Graham MATHESON (24 November 2007, aged 78)

Graham had a long involvement with the surveying profession in PNG. He arrived in 1951 and was employed by the Commonwealth Dept of Works in Moresby and Lae. He then transferred to the Dept of Lands Surveys and Mines based in Rabaul. He was transferred to Moresby in 1956 and in 1957 he was appointed Chief of Division Surveys. This position was upgraded and renamed Surveyor General shortly afterwards.

Graham set about modernizing the administration of the Survey Division and introducing new and correctly drafted legislation to guide the proper functioning of surveying in a rapidly developing country. The recruitment of experienced expatriate surveyors allowed him to establish Regional Survey offices throughout the country. Town Planning legislation was introduced together with a functioning Town Planning Section established within the Survey Division.

Survey Division staff did not have the capacity to attend to the rapid increase in demands to survey alienated land and undertake the surveying program for the copra, coffee and oil palm farm lots rapidly being introduced, so Graham established a funding program that introduced private survey practices to the Territory. A National Mapping Bureau was established, and agreements were reached with Indonesia which resulted in substantial marking of the border between West Irian and PNG. Graham took particular pleasure and pride in the establishment of the Degree in Surveying Course at the University of Technology in Lae – this initiative culminated in a National surveying graduate succeeding Graham as Surveyor General at Independence in 1975. Info taken from The National, 21 January 2008


Sir Joseph NOMBRI (14 January 2008)

Sir Joe, together with PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, formed the Pangu Pati and aimed to achieve Independence for Papua New Guinea in the early 70s. Sir Joseph was PNG’s longest serving ambassador and a statesman. Info from Post Courier, 18-20 January 2008  


Jean Isabel PARRY (2 December 2007)

Jean and husband Colwyn were married in 1951 and settled in Col’s birthplace, Rabaul. Twins, Roslyn and Rhonda, were born in 1952. The couple then moved to Lae where their third daughter, Catherine, was born. Later they moved to Port Moresby, Mt Hagen and Madang. At Independence, Jean and Col returned to Australia and settled in Sydney. Later they moved to Queensland, first to Samford and then Buderim where Jean became an ardent bridge player. Jean was diagnosed with cancer in late 2005. She is survived by her husband Col, their daughters and grandchildren. Colwyn Arthur Parry



Arriving in Moresby in 1946 as a clerk in District Services, he rose to become chief clerk and a formidable organiser of sport, especially cricket and tennis. On his frequent visits to the “bush” as aide and then official secretary to the administrator, he took a great interest in the varied duties of kiaps and often talked about these to me. After leaving Moresby in 1959 he became town clerk at Albany and then came into his own as secretary of the Rottnest Island Board and manager of the island. Here his knowledge of kiaps can be seen. He was police chief, harbour master, JP, fisheries inspector, and responsible for the water and electricity supply and for roads. He also built the golf course and the main ferry jetty. His “court” powers were limited to ordering a strong kick in the pants or the immediate removal of the offender from the island. His success and the reason he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia can be directly traced to his observation of kiaps at work and his natural get up and go attitude. Fred Kaad


Archibald Norman TAYLOR, OBE (24 November 2007, aged 86)

Arch first arrived in Rabaul in 1941 and served a distinguished war service in and around Rabaul both during the invasion and occupation. After escaping down the coast of New Britain in early 1942 he was evacuated on the Laurabada. He eventually joined the 1st New Guinea Infantry Battalion, operating behind Japanese lines on New Britain. From 1973 to 1975, he was the relieving plantation manager on Tovarur Plantation, out of Rabaul. Arch loved the country and the true bush native. After ‘going finish’ several visits were made back to the country, up until the 80s. Arch and Vera had a wonderful married life and came close to reaching their 65th wedding anniversary. Arch is survived by Vera and their children Robert and Susan. Vera Taylor


Fred WESSELY (July 2007)

Fred worked for various government departments during his service in PNG but it is as a producer of excellent drama for the Port Moresby Theatre Co that he will be remembered by many. During the South Pacific Games in 1969 he produced The Good Woman of Sechzuan and it was with Brecht’s Threepenny Opera that he christened the new Waigani Theatre. Fred is survived by wife Ann, four children and grandchildren. Ray Watson


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