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National Trust of South Australia

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Gordon Geoff

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1936

Date of death 2015

Below is Geoff's eulogy, as read by Kym Reynolds.

"Geoff has asked me, Kym Reynolds, to be the MC; that’s Manager of the Celebration NOT Master of ceremonies. The order of the celebration has been put together by Geoff with some input by close friends The hymns that he has chosen; with some help from family and friends; are bright, well known tunes and he had requested that you sing with gusto and send him off with a great celebration. It is usual at this point for a family member or friend to stand up and say what a great bloke he was. Well Geoff had been to so many funerals where you would think you were burying a saint. This then is a summary of his life; without the sainthood; warts and all, well maybe not all the warts."

Geoff Gordon wrote this life history “I was born in a nursing home, the matron of which most probably delivered my father 27 years earlier. The matron had raised him in his early years as he was abandoned by his single mother. If the wind had been in the right direction I would be a cockney as the home was near Crystal Palace and you could hear Bow Bells if the wind was in the right direction.

In 1944 I was sent to my grandparents I Norfolk. The constant break in lessons due to air raids with flying bombs or as we called them doodle bugs was interrupting my schooling. Short of schooling himself; Dad was very keen on education. When I came back from Norfolk I found that I was enrolled in a Preparatory School. Prep schools were to get you ready for an exam at age 10 to get into a Grammar school which was an advanced level of education. Come aged 10 I failed; however I got another chance at an exam called 11 plus; I failed. So back from paid schooling to state education and Dad’s money went to the next brother. He passed his exam and so did the third brother.

Next, Dad thought I might make a draftsman or an architect so another exam at a special college, I failed. Then a friend of my parents suggested that an apprenticeship in the Royal Air Force might be a good move. I went to a nearby town with 20 or 30 other similar aged boys sitting yet another exam. A few weeks late I had an interview with an Air Force recruiting officer. Then a letter came with a one way ticket to Wendover; which I had never heard of; and an invitation to join the Air Force. Bag packed; farewell Mum and Dad off I went into the wide; wide world. So at 2 months short of my 16th birthday in April 1952 I swore allegiance to a very new Queen; her heir and successors. I had passed an exam AND an interview AT LAST.

This was the start of something that changed my life forever. Six week of learning how to march, handle a rifle, polish boots, brass buttons, lino floors, and scrub toilets. Then it was education time. Two day a week in school classrooms and two and a half days in workshop classrooms and half a day sports afternoon. Saturday morning extra drill and P.T; Sunday morning church parade; whatever time was left us was our free time. Three years of this with exams on each of the aircraft instruments we were taught and school exams at the end of each year. I passed some well, scrapped through others. Then came the Finals in 3 parts. These had to be passed or you went back for 4 months more training. I passed 2 out of 3; but instead of going back was given another chance 4 weeks later with about 6 others that also failed. I passed; was declared a fully qualified Junior Technician and posted to the REAL Air Force to work on Canberra bombers.

Within a year I was promoted to Corporal; posted to Australia; went to a Saturday dance at Salisbury RSL met two girls; made a date for Sunday afternoon; and within the year had married Joan. Again my life was changed forever. You would not be here now listening to this if Joan had not made the one condition that she would “yes” which was; that we migrate back to Aus when I had served my time in the RAF.

So after almost 10 years all on the same camp passing exams; gradually climbing the ranks we returned to Aus as 10 pound Poms plus Teresa, Helen and Jo-Anne. Within 6 months we were in Woomera and I was working in a section repairing and setting up long range tracking cameras. In 1972 after almost 6 years there we came to Gawler; and to work at WRE or DSTO whatever you know it as. This time; we were a family of 6; as Alistair had been born in Woomera. I joined a group operating experiments in a transonic and supersonic wind tunnel. I stayed with this group for the next 27 years, it was one of the most enjoyable working environments. I had at last settled down.

Then along comes another life changer. Rev John Kinsman asked me to be a member of his group starting a Christian school in Gawler. This leads to a 30 year of involvement with what became Trinity College. First helping a team of volunteers get the hall across the road ready at the end of 1983 for the first 27 students in 1984. Then at the end of ’84; building a house for the first principal and also the first classroom block ready for 185 students at the beginning of 1985. Now the college is 5 schools; 6 if you count Montessori; on 3 sites and over 3500 students. In the mean time the joint Anglican Catholic St Columba came into being and guess who spent a few years on their council. Then in Victor Harbour Glendale Christian school went bankrupt. Over Christmas/ New Year Trinity Council bought the assets and restarted a new school with a campus in Victor Harbour and Goolwa. As Trinity had a $4million interest in the school some representation was needed on the new school’s council. Once, and sometimes twice a month, about a 3 hour 200 kilometre trip, back and forth for another few years. Mind you I was never on 3 councils at once, only two at a time for a few years. Joan was so ever so patient with me. Then when one of the great grand children went to Evanston Gardens Primary; who volunteered for the school council; yes me. Joan just looked at me with that look she has of; “here we go again”.

The words of the next hymn will be easy to sing as the tune will be recognised. Geoff spent more than 95 % of his time in Royal Air Force Bomber Command so the Dam Busters March seems an appropriate tune. HYMN “God is our refuge and strength” Now we come to the other life; the Christian life. There is a phrase in the prayer book that goes something like this;” Especially those who are of the household of faith”. Households and houses are built of bricks. My house of faith’s first brick; which I didn’t understand at the time; was in a Baptist Sunday school when as a 4 or 5 year old I sang “I am H A P P Y I know I am; I am sure I am; I am H A P P Y.”. It would be a few years before I would realise I could spell and the letters meant happy. The more bricks came via the Boy Scouts, when I joined a group affiliated to a church. The Rector encouraged me to be confirmed, and that was done by the Bishop of Woolwich in 1951. Church parades every Sunday in the RAF until I found out I could avoid them. This was achieved by owning up to having been confirmed and thus allowed to go communion at 8 am and thus skip the 10am parade. My roommates thought I was a real “skiver”.

Once married and back in England church took a back seat, that is until each of the children had to be baptised. Then every couple of years off to the local Rector and asked for the children to be “christened”. Back in Australia things didn’t change much except we all went to a Lutheran church with Mum and Dad-in-law. Once we moved to Woomera I came under the influence of the freshly posted Range Chaplain. He turned out to be my first spiritual mentor. I was looking for a purpose in life and he got me to join his study group preparing others for confirmation. Then sent me for a weekend Conference in Adelaide; here inspirational speakers turned my life around. Late on Saturday night my next spiritual mentor sat with me answering my questions and I experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit. What a weird feeling that is, when you realise that what you are saying to others is not your own words. Back in Woomera I spoke to the Parish council and convinced them to repeat the conference I had just returned from but for the whole Diocese of Willochra. Over 100 people came from across the Diocese to listen for a weekend to lay people speak. Parish priests were actually asked not to come; it was for laity only.

Next the family moved to Gawler; the influence of the people here, and the involvement with the development of Trinity College. I also met another spiritual mentor. Although I had various spiritual gifts to use at different times I did not really appreciate what Christ’s sacrifice really meant. I came to understand what sacrificial love was; and that through Christ’s sacrifice I was forgiven all my sins and was going to heaven.

So to any of you that think there is no life after death please please make the most of your life now because this is all there is. Now to those still looking for answers; please find a mentor. Don’t go searching too hard God will send one across your path; you just have to recognise them when they turn up. Finally to those who are sure you are going to heaven; see you there. “

Hymn “Who would true valour see” and Hymn “Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the Lord”. Geoff has had great support from the Palliative Care Team from Gawler Health Service and asks that you consider making a donation to Heartbeat Gawler. Make sure it is the Gawler branch as every cent they make is put back into the hospital in the form of needed equipment. Also consider donating to the Motor Neuron Disease Association who has also provided support and equipment. Remember there are about 100 MND patients in South Australia at any one time and 1000 Australia wide.

At some funerals there is an invitation to put a flower or something on the coffin before it leaves. Geoff has asked that instead of this please take a balloon and hold it until everyone is outside and as the hearse moves off release your balloon. The colours blue red and yellow are for this wonderful state of SA and just happen to be for the Crows, Green and Gold for Australia and when you add white you make my grid iron team The Green Bay Packers. Coffin exit at Hymn “When he Saints Go March In”

Please click here to see all photos of Geoff Gordon.

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