23 February 1920 to 14 November 2011
My Dad was always apologetic about his fatherliness because he had never known his father. Dad was born in Midland in 1920 while his father was a patient and growing increasingly ill in the Wooroloo Tuberculosis Sanatorium. His father was to die just after Dad’s first birthday.
Despite this lack of role modelling I think I had as a good a dad as any kid could have. Indeed, the absence of distinct male-female role modelling meant that he brought us all up with openness to doing whatever needed doing around the place rather than leaving that to the women or the men. Dad led a very busy life but my impression of him was that he was around. He set boundaries that I didn’t like, so that was probably about right, and he instilled in me a love of God and others and a desire to follow in the way of Jesus. What more could I ask?
It is a hazardous thing to ask the youngest child to write the Eulogy because I missed out on much of the stories of his early adult life, but tales have been told and I can share some of them with you today as we honour this lovely man.
Dad had two older brothers, Alex and Dudley, and not long after he was born, and his father’s estate was settled, his mum managed to buy a little house in Morgate Street, East Victoria Park, where the Coles Supermarket Car Park is now. His mum got a great job cleaning the local primary school – it was great because it was a job that paid the bills and she had time to look after house and home. From her meagre savings she bought a piano from Nicholson’s and I suspect that she or one of her sisters taught Dad to play, something he was able to do even after he could no longer read the music.
Dad left Leederville Technical School just before he was 14, I think, and got bits and pieces of work. Sometime later he decided he needed to learn to write better and went to some night classes and when he was 16 he did a Wool-classers Course at the Wool Stores in Fremantle. With that qualification he worked in the stores but was also asked to travel with a team of shearers all around the Pilbara and Kimberly. I still marvel at the thought of his mum letting her youngest boy aged 16 go off with a team of shearers (hard working, rough living blokes) for three or four months to do the tour. He must have been good at it because he went on a second tour the next year. His wool-classer’s ticket came in useful years later as he helped around on farms of church people that he visited.
Dad got involved with the church as a child and as a young man quickly demonstrated leadership that some of the older men of the church wanted to harness. As early as 1939 he was on the preaching roster to help at Carlisle, South Belmont and other churches and our friend Brian Stitt remembers my dad visiting Shenton Park Church one time and telling them that he really wanted to be a preacher and that he was working hard to overcome his speech impediment – I think a lisp – by practicing speech in the Midland Church hall and doing a bit of street-side soap-box preaching. If you find that hard to imagine, so do I.
Dad and Mum were married in 1942. Bethel was born almost at the end of that year, David in 1945 when they were living near Dalwallinu, Joy at the end of 1947 when they were living at Gutha and I was born in 1953 during an interlude of their service on Carnarvon Mission. Life in all those years was pretty tough in lots of ways, but they managed to give us the impression that we were on an adventure and that we had everything we needed – which we did. Dad worked hard for his family and for the church and we all feel like he gave us many wonderful gifts.
I am going to ask David to tell you some of the ways in which Dad was so special for us and for the people in the churches he served in.
We have each written down our own memories about Dad which was a really good thing for us to do, but really there were too many stories to tell here. We might publish them on the Internet or something for those who want to remember him.
So I would like to tell you some of the remarkable and special things Dad brought into his marriage and family life as well as his work for the church, and along the way a few of these stories may be told.
As John mentioned already, Dad was at times quite self-conscious of the fact that he had not had a father to be an example for himself in his role as our father. This was not as much of an impediment as he might have imagined, because when I look at him as a father, I am amazed at how he and Mum were almost completely interchangeable for us. Yes, Dad worked the job, and Mum was the “Minister for Home Supplies” as he used to call her, but Mum was involved pretty equally in the “ministry”, and Dad readily stepped in to do the chores around the house.
Mum used to say she didn’t need a dishwashing machine – she married one. Dad was quickly up at the sink after a meal to clean things away.
There were times when Mum had to be away. Mum had to come back to Perth to have Joy so she travelled with me and Beth to Perth until it was nearly time. Then she put me on the train back to Gutha accompanied by a friend we knew and I had a wonderfully special time “batching” with Dad. Dad could manage the household as well as the work he was there to do. And he somehow made those times really special for us. This happened many times and Dad always just stepped into the role of sole parent without missing a beat.
Dad and Mum both did the Bible Classes that set Dad on the pathway for ministry, but Mum was ahead of her time in sensing her own calling into ministry, once describing some of the things she did as a young woman at Midland as “pastoral work”. They were indeed equally yoked in the work of ministry, even though women were not allowed to be obvious in certain roles.
Dad had an easy manner with people and with kids. Each of us has recalled stories and expressed the view that Dad made us feel special. Joy’s sense of specialness came from all the different affectionate names he had for her – he would often call her Tinkles in memory of some bunny slippers she had with bells on them, but sometimes called her Floss and Fizz Gig. If she was in a bad mood the Tinkles was replaced with Jangles.
Dad’s sense of humour was a part of this easy way with people. Two kinds of things would set him off laughing – Slapstick comedy and puns. He could never tell jokes well if they relied on a punch line, but he could always muck around with words and mimic accents. In every place he moved on from he left dozens of people whose lives had been deeply touched by him.
When I think about Dad’s work on the Mission I am amazed at how he juggled what must have been a really complex situation. He was the substitute father for up to 40 boys. He had to be strict, but he was still able to have lots of fun with them, and he was able to forge life-long relationships with many of these boys, and other kids from the Mission.
Mission life was tough at times. Rations were thin as they say, but Beth tells a great story of Mum & Dad going fishing out on the jetty. Mum insisted that you just went out till you saw fish and then you caught them. Dad was tired and decided to stop where he was. “I’ll wait till the fish come to me,” he said. At the end of the day’s fishing, we don’t need to mention that Dad caught all the fish that were caught that day, but we will.
Dad was also a man of courage. I suppose we all are in our own way. But you know there were times when Dad found his work for the church really challenging. Some people were hard to work with, some people were hard to work for, some churches really didn’t make adequate provision for their minister, and sometimes things just went pear-shaped.
Dad faced challenges like this in Carnarvon and Midland, in Albany and North Perth. He took some real blows to his confidence, but we as kids were somehow protected from that until the stories were able to be told much later on.
When he relinquished his position at North Perth and went back to live in Albany he had no idea what he was going to do or how he would provide for Mum. At least he could garden. He loved his fruit trees and his vege patch and he had a roof over their head. Something would come up. Well the jobs did come and he managed to find new ways of helping out at the church while not being the minister.
But when a friend from a church in Victoria started putting the hard word on him to come and be their minister, all the demons rose again. “I’m not properly trained,” he would say. “Do I really want to put myself in that place where people can do that to me again?” Some of you will understand what that was like.
I am so glad he said yes and went. It restored him to a work that he thought he had failed at. He could hardly believe that he would have it so good again. The people there loved him and after just one year there, someone said to him “We feel like we have known you all our lives.” This was just the best thing anyone could have said.
Dad was a jack of all trades enjoying mostly to work with wood in either a carpentry setting or a joinery setting. I helped him build an extension to our home in Koongamia and a double garage that is still standing. He dug leach-drains and septic tanks. He tinkered with mechanics and loved painting up old bikes to look new. He taught me so much in that project and he has passed on his love of such crafts to both John and me.
Dad loved ideas. He read widely and actually liked to engage in debate. The process helped him work things out. He must have been a bit fearsome at times, because he would say things sometimes with pontifical authority (which of course he didn’t have) and most of the time we would just accept what he said and that was it.
Eira loves telling the story of meeting him before we were married, and as was her custom, when her dad made such utterances, she engaged in the debate. So she engaged with Dad. We were all so unused to this fearing an “argument” or “scene” and somehow we all dissolved into the rest of the house leaving Eira to it. Thus began 36 years of respectful engagement in ideas with Dad that both Eira and I will treasure.
I also want to thank him for a wonderful piece of wisdom he shared with me as a young man. Before Eira and I went to Bible College we had an opportunity to do something else in New Guinea for a while. We were struggling with how to decide what to do. Somehow I had gotten this idea that God had a plan for my life, and that my task was to discover it all by myself, and that if I took a wrong turn, God would give it to me in the neck. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing.
Dad said to me “Sometimes we have two good things to choose between. Whichever we choose, God will bless us in it.” That wisdom has carried Eira and me through many decisions since and I thank him for the insight he had in that moment.
Mum and Dad were married for 68 years when Mum died a year and half ago. So intimately were their lives entwined with each other that even if Dad had not been plagued with dementia he would still have found it hard to understand that Mum was no longer here.
Bethel and Joy have carried an enormous load these past few years look after both Mum and Dad with a commitment to keep them at home for as long as possible. This has been like running a marathon without knowing where the finish line is. It was hard work, and I want to pay tribute to them here in front of you our friends, but both of them would say enthusiastically that they would not have had it any other way. There were too many precious moments, odd-ball events to laugh about and intimate times shared to recount but they made it all worthwhile.
It would be interesting if we could recall exactly how many different ways Dad found to ask about Mum, after she died. “Have you seen Mum lately?” “Have you heard from your Mother?” “I haven’t seen Mum for a while. Is she late from work?”
We always replied in one way or another that Mum had died, and tried to awaken a memory of it. In response to this news, he complained several times “Well, nobody told me!” Another time he said “I must have been away at the time.” But most hilariously, one time, he responded with a question “Did she die permanently?” So you can see, there was never a dull moment.
But as you all know, dementia is a terminal illness, and each person takes their own particular journey down that road. I think that Bethel and Joy, and latterly Chris would say it has been a privilege to have taken that journey with both Mum and Dad.
Life became increasingly challenging for Dad over the past two months and with all the resources Amana Living could give us Bethel and Joy managed until Dad got really ill on Sunday. He was admitted to Joondalup hospital in the afternoon. They made him comfortable in ways we could not have done at home and as he settled into what was to be his final sleep he was reaching up his arms as if to visions of things we could not see.
Now he is with Mum and in God. There can be no better place for him.
Our Personal Stories
A child takes things for granted – that Dad will always be around – so perhaps we don’t hang on to as many memories as we wish we had when occasions like this arise. I don’t remember much before Gutha, and of that time I have many happy memories. There were times when Dad tried to teach me to ride a bike, with the pedals built up with wooden blocks because at five and a bit my legs weren’t very long. If I could learn to ride then I could ride over to Lawrence’s farm and go to school in their ute. The next year there was a school bus at the front gate of the farm so Dad would double dink me to the bus stop. If there was time we would go the ‘long way’ – zigzagging across the farm track. Then there was the time when Cousin Lynette and I saw a ‘wolf’ down at the salt lake. We felt much safer when we got back to the house and near Dad.
Of times at Carnarvon one memory is of our ‘day off’ and the family went fishing out along the jetty. Mum insisted that to catch fish you walked along until you saw them. Dad got half way and stopped while Mum walked on. He was going to wait until the fish came to him. Guess who caught all the fish that day!
There are of course many other memories, but more importantly there are things about the person of my Dad that I would like to acknowledge. He was a good sound Bible teacher. He was insistent that things be done ‘decently and in order.’ He loved to play the piano – especially hymns from Sankey’s Hymnal. He was a humble man, never looking for praise or reward, just getting on with the job. If he saw something that needed doing he got on and did. He was a caring pastor – to the point where on one occasion he walked the streets of Midland searching for an old man who had been to the Prayer meeting and hadn’t made it home by the usual time. He found the old man around 5 a.m. – he had had a heart attack and died as he walked home.
Dad read extensively books pertaining to his ministry until he retired when once again he discovered Zane Grey’s Westerns. He loved to pray and read his Bible. He loved to laugh and crack jokes – punny ones, and in latter times he loved the ‘pommie women’ and others from Amana Living who came in to help care for him because he could take off their pommie accent and enjoy word play with them.
He helped me in the moves from school to school – right up to the last one. He was my Dad and I was proud to be his daughter, but most of all I loved him.
I would like to start by expressing thanks to God for the love and caring of Bruce for all the Children at Carnarvon who learned from him as they would have from a Father , he was their Dad also , I consider them Brothers and Sisters
Precious Memories from an age I should not have been able to remember, some enhanced by having an older sister to recount and some private to me because My Dad was special and every day with him was an adventure and before the arrival of Joy we had special time together in Gutha and surrounds “Just Dad and Me batching” ( I was all of 2years 10months old)
Gutha was a Rail siding north of Morawa, the cottage was on a farm property of a church member Grandpa Carslake and that adventurous life created indelible memories of a wonderful man who served God in every aspect of his life including Fatherhood, Yes he was a different type of father because his role model was his mother so firmness also came with gentleness.
Moving from place to place was an art to Dad and Mum , they were too young to be called Ma and Pa Kettle but photos of the E B Clapps on the move bear witness that there was a similarity. 1949 in the little Bedford, 1955 in the New Bedford (a bit bigger), and in 197- when they moved from North Perth back to Albany. Transport was arranged with David I had a small Toyota one tonner and I borrowed Uncle Bill Jefferies 16’ beehive trailer. No photos were taken but I am sure there is a transport inspector with an indelible image in his mind of a 15’ truck with a 20’ trailer packed high with furniture, battling to get through the Gleneagles Hills and a couple of pilgrims in search of the new land driving without a permit ?
Yes Dad was always around and always ready to assist Mum did most of the Taxi driving to sports but there were some occasions that Dad came to the bike races with me . Bringing me a thermos of coffee and my Mum to meet me at Sawyers as I neared home from my solo ride from Geraldton on the push bike (3.5 Days)
Koongamia was a special time for the whole family and special skills were learned from My Dad as we built the Back Sleepout onto the house then the two car Garage/workshop
For the son to learn to tinker with the A40 and help with the maintenance of the Hillman
When I was just a toddler, I was given some little green felt bunny slippers with bells on them. I guess Mum and Dad thought that it was a good idea at first as they could track my movements about the house. This was when Dad gave me my second nickname (he gave me quite a few) on “Tinkles” after “Joybells”. Dad didn’t want any specific nickname to stick so I was “Tinkling bells”, and then on to the mood describing ones like “Jangling Bell”, “Jangles”, “Cowbells”, “Clangiebells”, and then on to the “Cherry Pie” and “Strawberry Pie” and “Copperknob”. And that’s not all . . . there was also the “Flossies” and Floozies” and the “Fizz Gig”. I’m not sure that the others had such a plethora of labels, but I sure got a few. He still called me Tinkles to the last.
My Dad always made me feel special. I could see it in his eyes when he saw another red-headed child. It said to me “I have my own little redhead and she is special”. Ah yes, it has begun to fade with the years, but that’s OK.
My Dad was a “Doing” sort of Man. There was not always the money to pay others to do things or buy things for the family. On the mission at Carnarvon when I was 8 or 9 he acquired a very old red tricycle made of flat iron with solid rubber tires. Actually the tires were missing and so it ran on the rims. He took out the back axle and hammered the back struts together with a single wheel on a very short axle between them. That was when I had my very own Penny Farthing bicycle. It was fun. When I was a little older Beth and I both had bicycles (second hand, of course) and Dad had painted Beth’s dark green with light green lines, feathers and scrolls, while mine was light green with dark green lines, feathers and scrolls. He had worked in the paint shop of Malvern Star Bicycle factory many years before, and was very good at that kind of fancy art work.
When Gladys came to live with us in Koongamia, being teenagers we would stay in bed on Sunday morning to the last minute until Dad started giving us the hurry-up by getting in the Hillman Minx and starting the engine. We would fly out the back door with our stockings in one hand and an apple in the other. We proceeded to complete our getting dressed while crunching our apple breakfast in Dad’s ear.
We all (Mum, Dad, Penny and I) came to Kingsley on Australia Day 1988 from Albany. We had bought 2 Villa Units at the end of Goollelal Drive and enjoyed our time of living nearby. After a shift or two for both of us, they came to live with me in Barridale Drive in 1997. Dad, besides being our most reliable antique dish washer, spent all his time in my garden, which was good for me as I was working. He would always be there to meet me off the bus to assist me crossing the road. Our garden was so colourful as Dad loved colour and flowers. Neighbours would stop to chat. When he was diagnosed with Prostate cancer in 1999, I felt that I needed to move from the corner block that we were on as I knew that while the garden was there to be done, he would try to do it. That was when we shifted together to our present address. Of course, he continued doing the gardening until it proved more than he could manage. He still enjoyed a walk around the garden almost to the last. He was always Grateful, Caring, Gracious and Humble. He missed Mum terribly during these last 18 months, but it has been a pleasure to be able to care for him with Beth’s help. He is God’s Humble Servant, gone to meet his Master and Lord.
My childhood memories of Dad centre much on him as a traveller. There was so frequently a trip somewhere to be made. I can remember sitting on his lap, probably as he drove the mission truck, with my hands on the steering wheel as if it were me driving.
In 1964 he was the State President of Christian Endeavour and so did a lot of visiting around the country and being the little one I got to go with him and mum often. And then when we moved to Albany we had many trips back and forth to Perth as well as a monumental trek by car to Adelaide for the World Convention.
I remember my dad leading things at Midland Church – conducting the singing, running movies, presiding over fellowship teas in the back hall. I know I wanted to be like my dad and I remember practicing conducting like him. I even got onto the piano in the church, I must have been 9 or 10, and I found a tune in the Sankey’s song book that was in the key of C – no sharps and flats – and I bashed away at it over and over till I thought I could play it for church one day. I did eventually get to play for Church when I was 16 and we were in Albany – I still remember how nerve-racking that was.
Dad was a time keeper – very punctual and ran a tight schedule. We used to say that if he was 15 minutes late leaving on a trip he was 15 minutes late all the way (at least in his head, even if he did make up the time).
Dad was handy with things. He made things with wood. I remember the Communion sets he made; hymn number boards and the like. I remember him working with shellac to make something really shine. He was a handyman builder – probably from the Mission days – but he built the extension and baptistery for the Midland church. He built a back bedroom on our house in Koongamia as well as a double garage this is still in use. He dug leach drains and septic tanks. He did anything he could that didn’t need a license.
I remember him painting up bikes – second-hand bikes made to look new. I remember him tinkering with his car engine, tuning it with a borrowed strobe light to get the timing right. He had so many tools and now I have so many tools – passed on from him and from David.
My dad loved the countryside. We would often keep our eyes out for wildflowers as we drove. We even walked across marshland east of Albany in search of Albany Pitcher plants –with success. When I was a teenager Dad took on the role of “chaplain” to the Stirling Ranges Boys Camps. When he agreed to do this no one else realised that in his job-description was morning porridge-making on the camp-fire, which involved him getting up before everyone else, getting the fire going and then cooking a great pot full of oats for the boys. There is a whole generation of young men out there who remember Pardie’s Porridge.
One of his greatest joys when we were living in Albany was showing visitors the favourite places he knew – not on the regular tour spots. That wonderful natural hinterland was an extension of his home and he showed people around it as if it was his home.
As a personal tribute to my Dad, I want to acknowledge his role in laying the foundation for a later passion in me for ecumenism. Dad was always involved with the other ministers in the communities he lived in. He never took an exclusive stance among them, and he taught us to respect people no matter what their denomination. His work with Christian Endeavour also exposed me to people from the wider church, and I thank him for that. In his later years, when Eira and I moved into the Anglican Church, he was open to coming along to see what it might have been that drew us there. He liked what he saw.