Creedon Cecil William
|Type of person||Individual|
|Date of birth|| 09/03/1922
|Date of death||03/08/2014|
Hon. Cecil William Creedon was Mayor of Gawler in 1972-1978.
Compiled by Paul Creedon.
Dad passed away last Sunday afternoon and as I sat down and went through those notes and all the family photos, I realised that they told one story of Dad – a Tasmanian; a son and brother; an airman, sign writer and painter, a newsagent, a drycleaner, a factory worker and politician; a man of integrity who worked for and within the community; a man committed to ‘a fair go’ and justice; an intelligent man with a sense of adventure and a love of travel; a man who wasn’t afraid of hard work and who frequently put work ahead of other things; a man who loved people a hearty red wine and a good belly laugh.
One of Dad’s Aunties, his Auntie Jean, or as she described herself – our Illustrious Great Aunt Eugenie, loved and admired Dad greatly and she once said to me when I was perhaps 18 years old, that if I was “half the man of my father I would be twice the man of most”. This was the sense of many people and I think it is very fair to say that most people loved and respected him.
By way of background – Dad was born in Tasmania on 9 March 1922, the oldest of 4 kids to Cecil (Jack) and Adele Creedon. He went to catholic school in Westbury up until grade 7 when he was 14, and then left to find work as was more the norm in those days. He was an intelligent young man, with an interest in learning but limited opportunities. So, on Saturday’s he would spend time with some of the Nuns from his old school to continue his learning. This interest in understanding the world and new ideas continued with Dad throughout the rest of his life
Dad worked for a while in Tassie and then enlisted in the RAAF in 1941 and was stationed in Melbourne for the rest of the war, which was a good thing for my brothers and sister – because that’s where he met our mother. As a Tasmanian and, Mum as a South Aussie both in Melbourne and well away from their parents they were perhaps freer than they might otherwise have been and they seem to have made the most of it together. They were married on 23 February 1946, soon after they were discharged – and they were very happily married for 64 years before mum passed away in 2010.
As most of you will know, Dad was never afraid of hard work and he had many careers throughout his life. If he had been born at a different time, and in different financial circumstances one wonders what he may have done, but it was only recently that he expressed to my sister Lorraine, that if he had had his time over he would have studied to be a lawyer. I dare say, this would have been a career that would have suited him and he would have ended up working somewhere like legal aid or as an industrial lawyer I suspect
He also worked tirelessly around the house and the garden and was the builder, the electrician, the plumber, the tiler, the concreter, etc in each of his houses. As boys each of us were trained in various tasks around the house too. We displayed our skills admirably, there was the time John fell through the ceiling while laying insulation, or the time David set fire to the cubby house, the time Michael rode a mini bike into the shed door or the time I buried an axe in my foot. Clearly we were all chips off the old block! I think we have all – well I hope we all have - developed these skills since those times – I guess we all needed to.
Dad was a political animal, and this interest began with the stories around his 2 grandfathers, both of whom had died in mine disasters in Queenstown, Tasmania before Dad was even born. Both were involved in the Union Movement and Dad’s father was involved with the ALP as well. It was no surprise then that Dad was passionate about politics and ALP values and that he joined the Party in 1948 and remained a member up until the last few years.
He was a Councillor and Mayor of Gawler for many years, and a member of the State Legislative Council for 13 years. All of my siblings grew up folding pamphlets and stuffing them into envelopes around the kitchen table, door knocking or letter boxing to promote one or other candidate, attending political events and selling drinks or ice creams to raise money and standing at polling booths to hand out how to vote cards. All of us grew up to believe in equity, human rights and social justice and a Labor view of the political world.
And … in his ‘spare time’ … for many years Dad ran the annual collections for the Salvos and Red Cross, amongst other charities, in the Gawler area and was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Share and Care, etc. But he never quite understood what had motivated me to become a Social Worker – go figure.
Later in life, once retired, Dad had more time to himself but he didn’t slow down. Anyone who saw his garden at the house in Bills Court or saw any of the pieces of furniture he built and carved will know how he utilised his active mind and body to create things of beauty and value well past the use by dates of many others.
He was a man I admired, respected and loved – but I didn’t really know him until relatively recently.
Like many men of his generation, Dad focussed his efforts into his work and the community, not his family. No doubt he was keen to ensure he provided for us as best he could and to make the community as strong and accepting for us all as he could.
But, I don’t actually have many memories of Dad before mum died. I remember him doing things, or building things, or driving somewhere, or talking to someone – but I don’t really have many memories of he and I together. I suspect my siblings had a similar experience.
That was the way he was raised, that was what was expected of him, but I believe now he wished he could have done all of that differently.
Now, don’t get me wrong, because Dad lived long enough that the last few years have been so very different, so very rich in wonderful memories of stories told and experiences shared, and dreams nurtured that I have more to remember him by than I think most people have with their fathers. I have come to see my father differently.
He shared with me his political values and how distressed he was that they seemed to be so out of tune with the Party he had supported for so long and how he wished he had worn more colours –reds and maroons rather than charcoal and navy, and less ties!
He spent time with me and my mates in the shed building bikes, restoring furniture and drinking wine and he wished he had spent more time with his grand and great grandkids when they were young and he was healthier
He told me his Dad was too distant and strict and he had struggled with him when he was young, but that he regretted not having a better relationship with him and also that he regretted burning that brush fence down when he was a kid!
He told me about pinching the Blackberry wine from the shed when he was 13 and getting so drunk he was sick and of loving mum so much that he nearly died when she did.
He told me that he was proud of me for going to Uni and finding happiness in my work and apologised for the mistakes he said he made when I was a kid and wanted to know what the hell had possessed me to buy another bloody motorcycle to rebuild
We shared wine, port, and many meals together. We met for coffee and lunch. I bought him maroon windcheaters and socks with bright stripes – and we found a relationship we’d never shared before.
I have come to see my father as a man, not just my father. As someone who deeply loved each of his children and wished nothing but love and joy for all of us. As someone with enough insight to realise he had made mistakes, even if he didn’t have as much capacity for self forgiveness as he ought.
If I may, I would like to read a Poem for Dad. Mum chose this one for Dad before she died and I think it is fitting:
Lifesavers - Robert N. Test:
The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying.
At a certain moment, a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and, for all practical purposes, my life has stopped.
When that happens, do not attempt to instil artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my death bed. Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let whatever is usable be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.
Give my sight to a person who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of a woman.
Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.
Give my blood to a teenager who has been pulled from the wreckage of a car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren.
Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist. Take my bones, every nerve and muscle in my body, and find a way to make a crippled child walk.
Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that some day, a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a cricket bat, and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.
Burn what is left and scatter my ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all prejudice against my fellow man.
Give my sins to the devil.
Give my soul to my Gods.
If by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I ask I will live forever.
So, in the end, it’s not the notes or photos that will help me remember my father, it’s the last 4 ½ years of his life and the friendship and love and respect we found and shared in that time.
Compiled by Paul Creedon
The following was presented to John Dawkins MLC by the South Australian Parliament Research Library in 2018......
"Cecil Creedon was born at Westbury TAS on 9th March 1922 and died in SA on 3rd August 2014. He represented on the Legislative Council: Midland from 10th March 1973 to 6th December 1985 and was within the Australian Labor Party [ALP].
Cecil Creedon, well known as 'Çec', showed a passion for the local community when serving as a councillor on the Gawler council for eight years [1960 - 1968] before serving as Mayor of Gawler for six years [1972 - 1978].
He also ran a dry-cleaning business and was President of the Gawler Adult Education Centre. Before being elected to the Legislative Council, Mr Creedon had run as a candidate for the Council in the 1962 and 1968 elections- an optimistic proposition for a Labor member in the Playford era. At the time, the Liberal and Country League, as it was then known, held a significant majority in the upper house. Mr Creedon's election was the first time a Labor member had been able to win a Legislative Council seat outside of the metropolitan area.
From his first moments in Parliament, he made his passion for ensuring all South Australians were properly represented well known, calling for an end to the rule of property and wealth on the council. During his time in the Legislative Council, Mr Creedon was a member and acting chairperson of the of the Joint Committee on Subordinate Legislation and also a member of the Public Works Committee. Mr Creedon fought for increasing service delivery for poorer members of the community. He fought tirelessly to expand public patient access to the Hutchinson Hospital.
Advocacy for the rights of consumers and the importance of protecting the family home were common themes of Cecil's 13-year service to the State of South Australia. In September 1975, he protested against a decision of the South Australian Full Court that overturned a decision by the credit tribunal to allow customers of large sores to inspect their credit files. In 1976, he protested against reports that the Fraser government would close down the Australian Housing Corporation. Cecil told Parliament that the Housing Corporation provided bridging finance for homebuyers at low interest rates.
His term was marked by controversy and bravery in declining to take oath on the Bible, instead taking an oath of allegiance to the Queen. He also famously scuttled a key law reform bill when he was on the phone and failed to hear the bells calling him to vote [later the bill was reintroduced and passed into law.] Cecil objected to the prefix of 'Honorable, and despite being told the title was compulsory, repeatedly [more than 4 times] climbed onto a chair and removed the letters above his office door."
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