Wednesday, April 11, 2018

About our late friend

An expanded and slightly censored version of what I was going to put on Facebook until R asked me not to until after the funeral.

Our friend David grew up on a farm in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, here in Victoria. His parents were always focused on community matters, and reared David in their image. His father was a long time local councillor and on the boards of some local health institutions. David trained as a printer and then a journalist, doing well with journalism at a South Gippsland local newspaper. 

But adventure called and he applied for a police position in the newly formed Northern Territory. He was successful at his third try and had very many tales to tell about his time there, both anecdotally and in his self published book, Adventure in the Outback. Perhaps he was paternalistic towards Aborigines who he came in contact with, but he genuinely cared for them and I would guess that was where he first developed his taste for non anglo men, but he was never exclusive to anything about men and what their origins were. 

Like his father, he had an interest in politics and was elected as a Country Liberal Party member for a seat in the new Northern Territory Parliament. I think he served two terms before he was tapped on the shoulder and told to move on.  (Later info has come to be learnt by me. His brother told me it was because he was gay. He was given an an unwinnable seat instead of the safe seat he had, and so in the 1960s, the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party got rid of a person who could be problematic because he was a poof.)

I am a little confused by timelines, but he was once responsible for the security of Her Maj when she visited the Northern Territory and he also met Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they visited the Northern Territory. 

Perhaps fed up with policing and politics, he ended up in Adelaide and bought a property there. I am not sure what he did there. Later he was in the Ovens Valley area of Victoria and head of the Tobacco Growers Association of Australia. He had a house built in Myrtleford to his own specifications and hosted many local, interstate and overseas visitors  He steered the organisation to a more sustainably farmer representative organisation as tobacco growing failed as the evils of the product became widely known. 

Again I don't know what he was doing, but he sold his house and bought a flat at the corner of Orrong and Dandenong Road in Caulfield, Melbourne. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he had a liaison with one of my workmates when he lived there. 

Our Brother Friends invited us to a 50th birthday party of a friend in 1993 in Balwyn. They had a long time connection with him. This was the first time we met David. We at times saw him out at bars and became quite friendly with him and when we moved to Balaclava, he was then living not far away in East St Kilda in a very nice three bedroom apartment. Not long after when on holiday in Fiji, he met a local man of Indian heritage and they formed a relationship and with the help of organisation GLITF, Gay and Lesbian Immigration Taskforce, his partner emigrated to Australia.

At the time he was the CEO of the national Wool Board in Victoria with an office in the city near the old Royal Mint. He was a CEO of the Australian Livestock Association and implemented electronic cattle ear tagging. He was also a mover and shaker in the Cattle Yards Association, a peak body for various cattle yards around Australia where cattle are auctioned. He remained a member of the Liberal Party and also Rotary and perhaps even the Freemasons. (Later, he was involved in even more agricultural peak bodies that I even knew about)

Post funeral knowlege, as  a young man, he bred some prize winning sheep and I saw a trophy at his funeral for coaching Little Athletics.

We began socialising with him and he and his partner went on to become part of Gwen's Gang, a group of friends centred on the our great late friend, Gwen. Around the mid nineties when we first connected to the internet, he found email terribly useful, at our computer, and after a while, tired of not being able to get near our own computer at times, we helped him buy one and set it up. He wasn't fond of technology, but he learnt to use it, but even to his dying day, people helped him with it. I never gave it a thought at the time, but on my second last visit to the hospital, he asked how to delete all of his text messages on his phone. I did not know, but it wasn't hard. He would never apply himself to solving technological problems. What did he know at the time when he wanted his text messages deleted?

From his East St Kilda apartment, he and his partner moved on to a large house in South Oakleigh and invested a lot of time, money and energy into making the house suit them. He turned the garage into an office, and wow, was he messy with paperwork. There would be piles of papers covering everything and on the floor, but he knew where everything was and by this time there were three computers in the garage office. We visited his house many times, often for a curry or a barbeque and through him, we must have met tens of people. He had friends in every Australian state and every continent and freely offered hospitality to anyone who visited Australia. He delighted in taking them up into the Dandenong Ranges, and especially to see the old steam train, Puffing Billy. He became an accepted member of his partner's family in Fiji and New Zealand and visited there many times. He was a frequent visitor to Singapore and Malaysia, a few times to North America and a few times to Europe. We travelled with him and his partner on the Danube river cruise, separated in Amsterdam and met up with them in R's home town in England, where he had some of the hospitality returned that he had given R's family members when they visited Australia.

His partner tired of looking after the large house and especially the garden, although it was a wonderful garden,  they sold the house and bought an off the plan three bedroom apartment in Caulfield, where they have remained since.

In his last few years he became heavily involved in the Northern Territory Retired Police Association and was awarded life time membership and a volunteer at the community radio station, Golden Days. He quickly became an on air presenter and a committee member and was very professional. He only fully retired from paid work a year ago.

He was a terrific public speaker, as we discovered ourselves at both his parents respective funerals. yesterday, Friday, we saw him off and as I do, I was overcome with emotion. I did not make a scene, but blubbed and there was snot involved. I mourn for him, but perhaps mourn more selfishly for what he gave us, and we have now lost.

All the people who we met at his place and came to know to chat to over so many years we may never see again.

After a chat to Bone Doctor about him, she said, he would have had better treatment as a public patient in a public hospital as a public patient. The expertise is in public hospitals.

Here is the text of what I put on Facebook. I thought about killing this post in a couple of days after my blog friends have read it, but perhaps I should leave it up?

Printer, journalist, Dandenong Ranges stringer for The Age and The Herald, football coach and umpire, Little Aths coach, prize winning sheep breeder, policeman, politician, cattle auctioneer, person responsible for security of Royal visitors in NT, on the first RAAF flight into Darwin after Cyclone Tracy, head of innumerable rural organisations; The Tobacco Growers Association of Australia, head of the Livestock Association of Australia, the Cattle Yards Association, executive of the Victorian branch of the Wool Growers Association, organiser and life member of the Northern Territory Retired Police Association, self published his own early life autobiography Outback in Uniform, authored a book on Melbourne place names and more recently, a committee member and on air presenter at Golden Days Radio. He was a frequent traveller with friends all over the world and showed personal hospitality to so many. We travelled with him, ate with him, shared stories with him, laughed with him and argued with him, and feel very privileged to have known him for over 25 years. We have lost a true friend and will miss him greatly. Our sympathies to his family and his long time partner Ranjan.

Westbury Street, St Kilda in the late 90s.



Probably Malaysia. He loved the place and never seemed troubled by the heat and humidity.



2017 at a police memorial ceremony.

28 comments:

  1. That was a beautiful tribute on Facebook. A sad loss but he will live on in your wonderful memories of him. True friends are hard to come by and at our age we don't have enough time to find new ones. Acquaintances, yes, but great friends, no.

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    1. So true, Marie. I will all the people we used to socialise with at his place. True personal friend? Never had one. And yes, it all becomes harder as you age, which is why it important to mix in the community. I know the theory, but I am not sure I am so good at it.

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  2. A fine tribute. I wonder what he would have thought of it, and what, if anything, he would have changed.
    It sounds as if your (and many others) was made richer for knowing him, and is diminished with his loss.

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    1. EC, that is thought provoking. He could be a grumpy old curmudgeon at times. At times he could be rude to wait staff and embarrassing. He was not a person of any sort of style, unless you can call always wearing a tie to anything important stylish. I don't know if I mentioned it in the post now, but his brother said to us or someone, they never had the conversation they should have had, that is about David being gay. Not so oddly a couple of days earlier, I said similar to R, that is I never asked him about how he dealt with being gay as a young man. Whatever, in that area he never missed out on experiences and many of the people at his funeral was a one of more frequent sexual partner. For me, he was a good bit older and it was a bit like thinking about parental sex.

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  3. A truly extraordinary person who selflessly gave so much. Your tribute is lovely xxx

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    1. Thanks Jayne, and if ever anyone was an illustration of if you want something done, ask a busy person, he was one.

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  4. A very interesting and fulfilling life.

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    1. Victor, fulfilling perhaps. Did he ever seem so happy about anything. If he did, he seldom mentioned it although he was also complimentary about hospitality he received from others.

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  5. Never delete, Andrew. :) Especially when it is a great post about a friend you loved.

    I'm sorry for your loss.

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    1. You reckon Snoskred? I like the anonymity that my blog mostly gives me. But thanks.

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  6. Sounds like he led a very interesting life with many many good friends. You among them. Maybe you will write a wild and woolly perhaps not entirely true, refurbished might be the word, obit for me if I pass before you>? I would like that. I have lost many friends and as years pass, more and more. I'm sorry you lost a good friend.

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    1. Strayer, I would love to. I only know bits and pieces about much of your life, but I would certainly write glowingly about you more recent life.

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  7. My first thought at death/funerals, is the saying 'Death is never sad if the gift of life has been well used'.

    It looks as if this applies 100% to your friend.

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    1. Cro, I think we heard that or similar at the funeral. However, it was truly a very well used life, which is I guess way I pay such tribute to him.

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  8. Such wonderful memories you have of a man who had many careers as was well thought of and loved.
    May he RIP

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    1. He certainly had a very varied career, Margaret, an mostly focused on rural matters until his time at Golden Days. He loved being a radio broadcaster and put so much effort into it.

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  9. He had a real fulfilled life !!

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    1. Gattina, his life compared to my life, well, mine is pretty pathetic.

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  10. "A house built to his own specifications", there's a dream come true.
    He looks familiar.

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    1. River, I don't expect the house was much. He never had good taste in anything like that. Yours would be so much nicer. You many he seen him on tv. He made a few brief appearances.

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  11. Leave your post up...don't delete it. It is a fine tribute...testimony to someone who was obviously a fine gentleman...and a cherished friend. A man who achieved a lot during his life.

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    1. Ok Lee, second mention to leave it up. Publish and be damned then.

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  12. Andrew, you wrote a wonderful memorial to a friend who sounds like he had a life well-lived, who gave back to the community time and time again.
    Hugs

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    1. Thanks Sandra. He certainly did give back.

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  13. Wow ... what a full life he had - that is the way to "do" life !!! :)

    * gosh I am boring.

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    1. Lady J, I too am boring and I don't mind being so.

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  14. That is a wonderful tribute.

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    1. Joe, he was certainly a high achiever.

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