Friday, October 26, 2007

In Loving Memory of My Father


September 9, 1923 - October 21, 2007

An ordinary, decent man
who showed extraordinary commitment

to his family, friends and employers.

Spared further suffering, he now rests in peace.


Colin McPhie was born in Surrey Hills, Melbourne,
to parents Norman McPhie and Pearl Barlow, on September 9, 1923.
When Colin was only about 3 years old, his father left the family.
He was raised in Yarram, East Gippsland, in country Victoria.

PHOTOS: Young Colin McPhie, presumably at Yarram.
On the back of the photo on the old tractor, written in my mother's handwriting,
are the words "2 years & 9 months".

When young Colin was only 12, his mother died.
He was then raised in Melbourne, by an auntie and uncle living at 158 Glen Iris Road, Glen Iris.


While attending Glen Iris Elementary School No.1148,
Colin met young Norma Lois Haeberle,
of 16 Fuller Avenue, Glen Iris.

Later, on September 21, 1946 at the age of 23,
Colin married Lois, then aged 21,
at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Gardner.

Colin & Lois were always a devoted
and inseparable couple
for almost 60 years,
living true to their solemn vows of love
"until death do us part".

Sadly, Lois passed away on June 5, 2006,
after suffering Alzheimer’s Disease
and other health complications.


Together, Lois & Colin built their new family home
in what was then the orchards and green rolling hills of Burwood,
at 3 Morell Street, (later the suburb was renamed Glen Iris),
and there they raised their two sons -
Bruce born in 1951, and Russell born in 1955.

We were blessed with parents who loved and
supported us every step of the way through life.
Through all the very good times and the bad,
the ups and downs of life,
Mum and Dad were always there with a helping hand
or a comforting word.

When we were young, our parents were not wealthy,
but they saved wisely and made sacrifices
to give us a good education,
and we enjoyed many family holidays together.
Dad & Mum always supported us in our many hobbies
and interests over the years.

(PHOTO: A happy family holiday together at Mildura.
Dad, Mum, brother Russell, & Bruce.)

(PHOTO: The proud Dad!... I may have earned the Queen's Scout Award,
but Mum & Dad rightly deserved much of the credit.
Photo taken in November, 1968.)

(PHOTO: Mum & Dad with the youngest of their 3 grandchildren, in 1989.)

(PHOTO: Russell, Lois, Colin & Bruce -
a happy family celebrate
Dad's 60th birthday at
3 Morell Street, Burwood, in 1983.)

PHOTO: Mum & Dad attended my 40th birthday party held at Omeo in 1991.
At that time, I was living "in the bush" at Cassilis in far north east Victoria.


Our Dad had many jobs throughout his life,
and he soon developed a well-deserved reputation
for being a dedicated and conscientious worker.

He worked as a fireman at Camberwell Fire Station.
For most of his working life, he was a skilled lathe operator,
a turner & fitter, at Inglis Smith Ship Chandlers in South Melbourne.

Later still, after his health declined, he moved to easier employment
as a biscuit maker at the former Brockoff’s Biscuit Factory
in Burwood, until his retirement at 65.

PHOTO: Dad & workmates at Brockhoff Biscuit factory.

Wherever he worked or went,
Colin formed many good friendships, and was popular for his
hard work, loyalty and sometimes a wicked sense of humour.

As a testament to his popularity
with both workers and management,

he was always warmly welcomed back to visit
the workplaces,
even after he had stopped working there.

Together, our parents enjoyed many coach tours
around much of Australia, and they visited
Singapore, Fiji and New Zealand.
More than just wonderful holidays together,
these also became opportunities to gather
many close, long-term friends.


Throughout his life, our Dad experienced and survived
some very serious medical conditions,

and developed a reputation as a tough survivor.

As a young man, he underwent a brain haemorrhage operation at
Prince Henry’s Hospital in
Melbourne, and was one of the lucky ones.
He was welcomed back there by medical staff for many years
as a popular and successful survivor.

In later life, he suffered from a number of strokes,
which left him with some side effects,
but he somehow always bounced back.

A roll-your-own smoker most of his life,
Dad immediately quit the deadly habit after his first stroke.

Dad’s quiet stubbornness and strong will to live,
cheated Death for many years.

After nearly 60 years of devoted marriage to Lois,
Colin had to suffer seeing Lois consumed
the dreadful Alzheimer’s Disease.

Finally, her passing in 2006,
although in many ways a blessing,
must also have been a terrible time for Dad.

As was often Dad’s way,
he mostly kept his inner feelings to himself.
Perhaps that was his way of dealing with a situation
so tragic and painful, which he could not change.


Dad’s strength noticeably declined during those last years,
and especially after the death of Lois.

He required nursing home care,
became steadily older and weaker,
his heart remained strong to the very end.

Some days before my next tour was to start, I got a
message from brother Russell to say Dad had got worse,
but the doctor could not say how long he had left.
He improved a bit, but then declined again.

I informed my manager, but decided not to fly home at that stage.
I had seen Dad only a few weeks before, while in Australia on my
annual holiday, and Dad’s condition was still unclear.

Anxiously, I continued the tour, prepared to return
to Melbourne the moment I got the call from my brother,
but chose not to tell the travellers about this.

We got half-way through the tour, when I got the call.

Finally, on Sunday morning, October 21,
after a full and active long life of 84 years,
Colin McPhie passed away.


On Thursday October 25, 2007 at 1:45 pm, about
35 close family, friends, neighbours and former workmates
gathered at Blair Chapel, Springvale Crematorium,
to say farewell to Dad, who was cremated by request.

We displayed some interesting photos of Dad
taken throughout his life,
including some
when he was only about 2 years old.

Dad's most favourite flower was always the tulip,
so we arranged an impressive display of tulips to send off with him.

On the coffin, there were red roses, and a black sash -
Dad's favourite football team was always Essendon!

During the time of reflection, the music played was
Vera Lynne singing "We'll Meet Again."
At the end of the service, we played the Essendon footie song.
We think Dad would have liked that!

The moving service was well conducted by Mr. Greg Crawford
from Syd Peek & Daughter funeral services,
who had also taken care of Mum's funeral in June 2006.

Colin is survived by his two sons, Bruce & Russell,
and his three grandchildren born to Russell and Janet -
Stuart, Ryan and Ashlea.

Colin McPhie will be remembered and loved by his family,
and all the friends and work colleagues who ever knew him,
for his honesty, dedication and selflessness.

He was a hard-working, and devoted Dad, and a loyal mate to his friends.

He will be sadly missed, but now he can finally rest in peace.

In honour of the memory of my Dad,
Intrepid Indochina, my employers in Viet Nam,
made a donation to Alzheimer's Australia (Victoria).
This was unexpected, and much appreciated.
Anything that helps others facing this terrible disease,
and hopefully brings a cure closer,
is a good thing indeed.

Colin & Lois
enjoyed almost
60 years of happy
married life together,
separated only by
the death of Lois
1 year and 4 months ago.

they can
rest in peace

(PHOTOS: Mum & Dad
at 3 Morell Street,
celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary,
on September 21, 1996.
Mum passed away just 3 months before reaching
their 60th wedding anniversary.)

Rest in Peace - Colin McPhie

* To read my Tribute to My Mum, go to:


Mary Doyle said...

Dear Bruce, you don't know me. I'm married to Val Noone, both of us formerly active members of AVS. We like your Viet bulletin and echo your thoughts on Vietnam.
Please accept my condolences at the loss of your Dad. I have just read both of your tributes, which I found very moving, an honour to read. Two lives well lived. You are justly proud of them.
All I can say as an outsider is they indicate to me that you are a worthy son of your parents. And, welcome to the Orphans' Club - never easy, no matter what the age when you become one.
Love, peace, blessings. Mary

Jan Kean said...

Hi Bruce
Sorry to hear about the lose of both your parents. I read both tributes and you have done a great job. I feel like I knew them.

Reunification Express July 11 - 25, 2004 - Jan, Michelle, Audrey and Sue

Richard Coe said...

Dear Bruce,

It was with great sadness we heard your news and read your tributes to your Mum and Dad. They are a shining example to us all of a life of determination, honesty and devotion.

Luckily for us (meaning all Intrepid travellers under your guidance) your parents have passed these qualities on to their son who, in turn, shares this with all travellers in his care.

Our thoughts are with you, Richard and Kate (Vietnam tour, Xmas 2006)

Roxanne Adams said...

Hi Bruce,

I'm 29 and have lost both my parents also, with my Mum passing this January. This tribute is fantastic, and you've inspired me to do the same. It's such a positive action to spread loving, good on you for not being humble with this :)