Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

News > Alumni In Memoriam > Vale, Kevin Coorey

Vale, Kevin Coorey

The College farewells alumnus Kevin Peter Coorey (Fresher 1960).

Kevin Coorey, also known to many as "Gikta", died on 24 November 2023 in his 82nd year.  He was a big personality in every way and made a significant contribution at school, at university and in the legal field.

Kevin was born in Charleville, a small country town in Queensland, on 13 December 1941. His parents had migrated from Lebanon in 1920 and eventually settled in Charleville, where they raised eleven children, four boys and seven girls.  Realising the value of education, Raphael and Maureena Coorey were particularly keen for all the children to be well educated. Sadly, two of the boys died in their early years – one from poor health and the second from a tragic drowning accident. The two remaining boys were Kevin and his older brother Glen.  Following the death of his father in 1953, Glen (ten years older than Kevin) became the patriarch of the Coorey family.

After his secondary education at St Joseph's College (Hunters Hill), Glen attended St John's College where he completed his medical studies.  He specialised in Urology, and gained a reputation as a highly skilled kidney transplant surgeon and teacher.  After several years of poor health following his retirement, Glen died in 2012.

Kevin, having finished primary school in Charleville started high school at Downlands, Toowoomba.  Being unhappy away from his family, Kevin was allowed to continue his secondary education in Sydney where his eldest sister, Doris lived.  Like Glen, he went to St Joseph's College Hunters Hill and completed his secondary schooling there.

He was a very popular student who had a quick wit and a gregarious sense of humour. He also collected the nickname "Gikta", the source of which is an ongoing mystery….. but it became a permanent title.  Kevin made lifelong friends at St Joseph's, including Brian Burnett, Arthur Laundy, Frank Hourigan and many others.  His Leaving Certificate (1959) results were good enough for him to follow in his brother’s footsteps – go to John's College at Sydney University and do medicine!

And so it was, in 1960 Kevin (aka "Gikta") started as a Fresher at John's.  Because his brother Glen (aka "Herb") had preceded him there,  the Fresher duties assigned Kevin were often payback for Glen’s reputation as the master of difficult Fresher duties. One of Kevin’s first tasks was an assessment of his singing skills. He was asked to  sing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes whilst being stuffed up a chimney. He passed the test with flying colours and was then inducted into the Freshers' choir.  To celebrate St Patrick’s Day the Fresher choir would serenade the residents at the Queen Mary Nurses' Home singing Irish rebel songs.  These impromptu concerts were extended to other University Colleges and students.  In addition to his entertainment duties, Kevin also attended his lectures in Medicine, but found this was not a course that inspired him (nor was singing).   At the end of Term 1, he decided that he should go back to Charleville to live.  Kevin returned to Charleville for the remainder of his first year where he worked for his brother-in-law in what had been his late father’s drapery, and was found to be deeply uninterested in convincing customers to purchase anything at all. Subsequently, he was persuaded by his good friend, Brian Burnett, that he might be more suited to Law. 

Kevin resumed his studies again in 1961, but this time as a law student …..this was far more to his liking!  Around that time, the College and the University were undergoing a major transformation. Higher Education funding had meant that there was a large influx of students with many building works underway across the University to cater for this sizeable growth. The University only had 10,000 students in 1961 and there were less than 100 at John's with about 30 to 40 as Freshers. At John's the new Menzies wing was opened that same year.

Being the second time around as a Fresher, the new intake looked to Kevin to be the leader….and so he was! One of the initial duties of Freshers was to put on a musical performance at the nearby all-female Sancta Sophia College. Kevin was the leader and the star performer that evening giving a unique rendition of Jailhouse Rock followed by an impersonation of the Jerry Lewis ‘walk’. He was an active and involved student in the College activities and was extremely popular with all members of the College community. It was also the time for new friendships including Peter Helm ("Young Kedge"), Terry Golding ("Fatman"), John Ryan ("Zipper"), David Payten ("Yak") and many others. Kevin remained a student at John's until he finished Law in 1965.

Whilst he was still a student at John's, Kevin met the love of his life, Christine Eakin.  Christine happened to be a student at the Physiotherapy School of the University of Sydney, located in old wartime huts situated in the grounds between John's and RPA. Christine’s chemistry lectures were forsaken for more interesting daytime movies at the Union theatre.  And so romance blossomed.  Christine worked as a new graduate for a year before she and Kevin were married in Sydney on 27 January 1968.  

Following the completion of his law studies Kevin worked as a solicitor at the Attorney General's Department, where he was offered a job in PNG after his marriage.  Kevin did not like the atmosphere of Port Moresby and the newly married couple returned to Sydney where he spent some years with BJ Perriman, who gave him the opportunity to defend criminal cases in the lower courts.  Finding this work very much to his liking, Kevin went to the bar in 1979. 

He was an immediate success as a barrister specialising in criminal law and was involved in some high-profile cases. Kevin’s reputation was recognised as being based, not just on his knowledge of the law, but his care and compassion for the people he represented. Then in 1999 in recognition of his skills, Kevin was appointed a Judge in the District Court. This was a worthy recognition of his contribution to the law. The 1961 intake at John's produced three Judges – Kevin, Brian Donovan and Peter Hidden.  During his term on the Bench he conducted many cases across NSW and was a respected Judge for 15 years.

During this period, he maintained his many friendships by arranging for regular lunches at Diethnes Greek Restaurant, near the Downing Centre, where a table was always available for him. Some of the regular attendees were Geoff Caban, Geoff Taperell, John Rouen, John Conlon, John Maguire and Anthony Whealy.  In 2014 Kevin retired from the Bench and he and Chris moved from Coogee to Port Macquarie where other family members resided.

Port Macquarie was a relaxing environment for regular coastal walks and coffee meetings with friends. Unfortunately, his kidney condition, diagnosed almost 30 years previously, necessitated that in 2018 Kevin had to begin dialysis.  Daily peritoneal dialysis at home gave him the freedom to have his treatment at night and to be able travel to see his extended family.  It was a partnership of health management between him and Chris that allowed him to continue in this manner until early November 2023.  Medical complications set in and further treatments became ineffective.  Kevin expressed the wish to go home from hospital to be with his family.  Following five days of memories and laughter with his many visitors, family, friends and colleagues, Kevin died peacefully at home on 24 November. His children and his sisters were with him constantly during that time. His funeral mass was held in the parish church (St Agnes) so familiar to Kevin and Christine.

Kevin was a good man, kindhearted, witty and intelligent.  He had a belief in high values and the importance of his family. He achieved many things in his life, developed close friendships, was always marvellous company, a devoted soulmate to Chris and a proud father and grandfather.  Kevin and Chris have six children – Patricia, David, Joanne, Michael, Elizabeth and Jacinta. David and Joanne followed him into law.  There are twenty-one grandchildren. Of the seven sisters in Kevin’s family,  four are still alive – Rachael, Joyce, Veronica and Christine.  

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Vale, Kevin.

Similar Stories

Have your say!



10 Missenden Rd, Camperdown 
NSW 2006, Australia

Follow us on Social

This website is powered by