Vale September 2008

AMBO, Bishop Sir George OBE KBE |  KEENAN, Phyllis |  LOGAN, Kenn |  MINTO (nee Skelly), Dawn |  O’CONNOR, Renee Marie |  PAGE, Jack Benham |  STANDING, John Alan |  WONG, Kevin | 


Bishop Sir George AMBO, OBE, KBE (6 July 2008, aged 85)

Bishop George became the first Papuan bishop and the first native bishop of the South Pacific. The consecration occurred on 28 October 1960, and Bishop George made Northern District his home for the next 23 years. Through traditional dancing, singing, drumming and miming, George took the first step toward making the teachings of the church clear and meaningful for his people. He did not know that this idea would be one of his greatest contributions as a bishop in the indigenous church. In 1946, George married Marcella Karau of Gona. In 1951 George was told he would train as a deacon the following year at Newton Theological College at Dogura. On 25 January 1958, George was ordained priest. He gained his government registration as a teacher toward the end of 1959 and was posted to Boianai mission. He succeeded Bishop Sir David Hand as Archbishop when the former retired in 1983 and retired himself in 1989. Info from Post Courier 11 July 2008  

Phyllis KEENAN (21 December 2007)

Phyllis married John Keenan in 1942. John was a patrol officer in Kieta, Bougainville. They had two sons, Adrian and Clive. Joan Hayes  

Kenn LOGAN (7 March 2008, aged 60)

Kenn became a kiap in PNG in 1970, having attended ASOPA at the beginning of that year. He spent three years at Tabibuga in the Western Highlands, then transferred to Bukapena at the base of Mount Hagen as ADO and Local Government Officer. Kenn and his family stayed on in PNG after Independence. Kenn held the positions of Executive Officer of the Mt Hagen District Development Group, Provincial Census Officer, Provincial Statistical Officer and Provincial Planner (Social Services) in the Western Highlands. The family departed for Australia at the end of 1984. Two years later Kenn returned to PNG to work at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV), specialising in land issues, and later became Coordinator, Land Administration. His Porgera tenure ended in October 2007, and in 2008 he was retained as a consultant to PJV for various community affairs issues. In late February 2008 Ken experienced a tear to a vessel leading to his heart. Sadly, appropriate cardiac services were not available in North Queensland at the time, and he suffered irreversible damage. Kenn is survived by his wife Lois, his children Duncan, Mercedes and Opal, and four grandchildren. Lois Logan


Dawn MINTO (née Skelly) (6 May 2008, aged 82)

Born at Hula (South East coast), Dawn spent most of her early years in Samarai. She was evacuated on Boxing Day 1941 to Sydney via Port Moresby and returned in late 1946 to Samarai to be immediately recruited by Stan Middleton to work in the District Office until her marriage in 1950. After residing in most port towns, mainly Rabaul, Dawn left with husband Jim and family for retirement in Queensland in 1980. Dawn is survived by her husband, children Grace and Stephen and sisters Rosalie and Leonie. Jim Minto  

Renee Marie O’CONNOR (21 March 2008)

Renee spent her early life on Rawdon Island, Hastings River, on the mid North Coast of NSW. She moved to Sydney in her mid-twenties and it was here, when working for a Real Estate firm, that she met Kevin O’Connor in late 1967. A long time member of PNGAA, he had just gone finish as the manager of the Commonwealth Bank at Mount Hagen (1964-67). They married in October the following year. Renee was an attractive, gracious lady. She and Kevin attended many Association functions over the years mostly in company with Mt Hagen expats. She was a champion golfer, a great cook and later on became ‘hooked’ on quilting. In early 2004, Renee was diagnosed with a terminal disease, multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. She accepted her lot with great fortitude and dignity and without complaint. Her great religious faith was constant support.

Renee was a most respected, honoured and loved wife of Kevin, mother of Roderick and his wife Fiona and sister of Zilla, Naida and Lola. Kevin O’Connor  

Jack Benham PAGE (2 June 2008, aged 88)

Jack’s formative years were spent in Adelaide where he became a talented sportsman. After War Service with the 13th Australian Field Regiment and being involved in the battles of Buna, Gona and Sanananda on the North Papuan coast, Jack returned to Australia in early 1943 and in May that year married Phyllis Burford. He then enrolled in the Field Service for PNG and undertook training at the Australian Army School of Civil Affairs in Duntroon, Canberra (later to become ASOPA). He was posted to Rabaul, New Britain, in 1946: the first civilian Patrol Officer in the region. Phyllis and baby son Ben joined him in 1947 and their second child, Susan, was born there. After further postings to Talasea, Manus Island and Rabaul, and the birth of their second daughter, Stephanie, Jack became District Officer of the Madang Region in late 1956. Here he introduced local government and established village councils. In December 1957 he oversaw the evacuation of 4,000 people from Manam Island following a volcanic eruption. While at Madang his fourth child, William, was born. After a period as Assistant District Commissioner, Jack became Senior Commissioner of the Land Titles Commission in 1969. His primary responsibilities were to adjudicate on native land disputes and re-establish pre-war land titles; his jurisdiction extended over the whole country. Apart from his official duties, Jack will be remembered for the huge contribution he made to the establishment of golf in PNG; he served as President of the PNG Amateur Golf Association. Jack left PNG in 1974 just prior to Independence. He is survived by his wife Phyl, children Ben, Susan, Stephanie and William, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.    

John Alan STANDING (15 April 2008, aged 63)

John lived in Melbourne and was educated at Trinity Grammar, Kew, before becoming involved in pottery and publishing in the years before going to PNG. He joined the Administration in August 1970 and served his entire career in the Milne Bay Province at various postings including Esa’ala, Iamalele, Rabaraba, Samarai, Bwagaoia, Tagula and Pambwa. He married Elizabeth in 1973 and they went on to have four children. Amongst the highlights of John’s career were his large role in the construction of the Pambwa Airstrip (Rossel Island) and his major part in the detection and conviction of a member of an infamous terrorist organisation. He was the Provincial Lands Officer in Alotau in 1982 when he left the Administration to enter business on his own account operating an agency service for Misima Mines and others, a large second hand clothing warehouse, and a general store and news agency in Alotau. He finally departed PNG in 1992 into full-time retirement to East Keilor in Victoria and more recently South Yarra. He devoted himself to his family and was heavily involved in the school councils and the Uniting Church Op. Shops and distribution centres at Footscray. He also applied himself to his hobbies of video and book collecting acquiring over the years huge collections. John had not been in good health for some time and finally succumbed to Legionnaires Disease. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his children Christina, Lisa, Kylie and Rowan, his mother and sister and four grand children. Jon Bartlett  

Kevin WONG (9 March 2008, aged 67)

Kevin Wong was born in Rabaul and was very young when the Japanese invaded New Britain. His family left the town to live where they could. They were not allowed to travel to Australia with other evacuees. His mother died when he was two. His sister died of peritonitis, unable to receive medical treatment in time, when he was six. He had an unsettled childhood but loved his years at St Peter’s Lutheran College in Brisbane. He was a House Captain as well as captaining many different sporting teams. After working as a plantation manager, he was accepted as a Cadet Education Officer and attended ASOPA in 1960-1961. Back in New Britain he was a devoted teacher initiating a revival of local Tolai customs and crafts long before this became Government policy. He also became an international referee in basketball, officiating at the South Pacific Games in Noumea and Port Moresby. He met his beloved wife Wanda in Rabaul in 1967. After Independence Kevin lived in Canberra for 22 years and again initiated many new ideas in his teaching including healthy eating and Aboriginal studies. He was a science and maths consultant for many years having obtained his Bachelor of Education from Canberra University. After a couple of health alerts Kevin and Wanda took early retirement to Witta near Maleny in 1998. There they turned a lantana wilderness into a beautiful environmentally friendly garden. About four years ago Kevin developed a severe neurological illness, but he remained the cheeky smiling Kevin his friends knew so well until close to the end. He is survived by his wife Wanda, two sons and a daughter, and three grandchildren. Gaye Speldewinde


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