|31 Oct 2022
If St John’s is a palimpsest of individuals who’ve come and gone through the ages, then its tapestry must surely be made of the richest colours.
The strength of this community was in full display on Sunday 30 October, when the completion of the engravings honouring the latest twelve Fellows was celebrated in a special dedication ceremony. The special occasion was attended by families and friends – an enduring testament to the esteem we hold for each of these men and women who served the College faithfully over the years.
Ms Mary-Jean O’Doherty’s unaccompanied voice commanded attention as she sang I Vow to Thee, My Country by Gustav Holst (music) and Cecil Spring Rice (text).
Rector Dr Mark Schembri reminded guests of their exceptional achievements in his speech.
Mr Neville Anderson (1937) carved a successful career in architecture and left his mark on the John Power Wing of Marist Brothers Pagewood, the Queen’s Park Pavilion at Waverley College, Basser College at the University of New South Wales and St John’s College’s Menzies Wing which was completed in 1962.
Sir Cyril Walsh PC PBE (1927) had long been lauded for his brilliant legal mind, receiving awards for his academic achievements and later elevated to the exulted position of High Court judge. That Walsh still casts a giant shadow in the legal sphere forty-nine years after his death speaks volumes of the depth of this man’s talents.
Dr Glen Coorey (1951) was the quintessential Johnsman who plunged himself into every aspect of College life, be it academics, sports or music and brought life to any social gathering he was in. He later became an exceptional surgeon who commanded respect among his peers and was a standard-bearer for the Lebanese community.
The Very Reverend Gregory Meere was Rector from 1969 till 1977 and steered the College through a great period of transition when Australia underwent many social and cultural changes. During his tenure he oversaw crucial stonework restoration and was instrumental in the completion of Bob Daly’s history of the College.
Mr Gregory Bartels AM (1951) is remembered for his devotion to his civic duties, joining the Australian Naval Reserve at a young age before later becoming Willoughby’s mayor. He also supported many local community groups. He served on the United Nations Secretariat and was appointed to the United Nations Secretariat, Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and Trade Practices, General Secretary of the Liberal Party (NSW), Director-General of the Institute of Directors in Australia and Governor of the Law Foundation of NSW.
Dr Charles Abercrombie (1962) enjoyed a successful career in medicine for many years but is also remembered by his contemporaries as a popular House President. He is a great friend to the College for his invaluable support. St John’s Chapel is woven into his intimate family history as the place where he married his wife Lorraine O’Brien back in 1968.
Dr John Burnheim was College Rector for a period of ten years from 1958. The former professor of philosophy embarked on a series of building expansion projects that saw the addition of the Menzies and Polding Wings. He also laid the foundations for a fruitful and continuing relationship between the College and Alumni Association.
Mrs Christine Liddy AO was a former Chair of the College Council and is respected for the scope of the various causes she has championed. The former President of the Royal Flying Doctor Service has served on various boards and committees; the GI Cancer Institute, the Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation, the Mosman Art Gallery and Cultural Centre, the Capital Campaign Committee of the State Library of NSW and the UNSW Arts and Social Sciences Advisory Council are just a few to which she has lent her voice of support.
Mr Mark Philip Meagher (1962) was Chair of the College Council from 2009-2012 and is one of several family members remembered for their unique spirit and exceptional abilities during their time at College. Meagher was a major player in the Hintze Building major fundraising campaign.
Dr Brian Morgan AM (1947) was Senior Vice-President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He was a highly respected colorectal surgeon who was also a gifted teacher in his field. Dr Morgan continues to support St John’s through his establishment of the Jenny Morgan Scholarship in honour of his wife Jenny, thereby ensuring the future success of our most promising students.
Mrs Kerry Chikarovski AM followed in her father Greg Bartels’ example and has lived a life of public service, becoming Minister for Consumer Affairs, Assistant Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations and Employment. She worked to create better employment opportunities for women through mentoring programs and implemented flexible working conditions for the public sector.
Dr Christopher Clarke (1962) worked for many years as a respiratory physician in Brisbane and Western Sydney. At the end of his practice he devoted his time to Aboriginal Medical Services. He has served on the College Council as Treasurer, Deputy Chairman and Chairman. Not one to sit on his laurels, Dr Clarke has since found s new career as Chief Engineer on the last of the steam ships stationed on Sydney Harbour.
Dr Schembri finished off his presentation by reminding us of the importance of honouring the legacy of the twelve:
Each of these twelve have given lives of service to this College. They saw in this place something of great value — something worth serving….
St John’s is first and foremost a body. Like stone, it transcends the ages. It is a living, breathing, institution whose memory stretches back into the early decades of this country. It is a body whose members are bound together by that memory.
The marks of that memory are everywhere around you here today: in the College halls, in its art, its tower, its fields, and its libraries. Those marks are also to be found in the lives of these Fellows, whose contributions to the College adorn its history. You all form part of this great body today.
St John’s College is a body in which young men and women are formed in light of that history — the history of all those who have gone before them from this College into the world to lead, to heal, to defend, and to serve…
These Fellows’ contributions to St John’s are inscriptions on the heart of this place — testaments to their service, their love, and their sacrifice for this great institution.
St John's College very much looks forward to honouring more Fellows for the Fellows' Walk in the near future.
Photo (l-r): Mr Phillip Towzell, Dr Charles Abercrombie, Dr John Burnheim, Fr Richard Waddell, Judge Gerard Phillips, Mr John Coorey, Mrs Christine Liddy, Mr Philip Meagher, Mr Adrian Diethelm, Mr Matthew Gordon and Dr Mark Schembri.
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