IN recent months the Derwent Valley has lost a number of well-known local identities, including George Menzie, Noel Taylor and Brenda Triffitt, all of whom played important roles in the local community.
The local links of these three in particular are synonymous with a close-knit community like the Derwent Valley and their joint memories will forever be in the hearts and minds of many.
George and Noel, as well as being team mates in the glory days of the New Norfolk District Football Club, were also great mates off the field. They spent their last days just a room apart in the New Norfolk Hospital and now rest side by side at the Malbina Cemetery. Cousins Brenda and George meanwhile, grew up on neighbouring properties and both attended the Plenty State School, which they often referred to as the Plenty University.
Their obituaries, written by Steve Balmforth, will be published here over the coming days.
Ronald Walter (George) Menzie 16/2/1940 – 14/5/2019 George was born on February 16, 1940, at the Redlands property of the Page family, with his arrival overseen by midwife Kate Thorne. Although christened Ronald Walter, he was always referred to as George and it stayed with him for all his life.
He was the third child of Jack and Dawn Menzie who had six other children – Les, Joan, Alan, Marie, Margret and Helen. He passed away after a long illness on May 14, at the New Norfolk District Hospital.
George Menzie, centre, playing for New Norfolk.
George’s wife of 55 years, Kaye, says he was a quiet and reserved man with a great sense of humour (some would say a wicked sense of humour), who enjoyed a joke at any time.
He was a true and loyal friend always there to help others. He had a special grandfatherly bond with Cassidy who also enjoyed George’s musical abilities.
While he may not have embraced the theology that keeps the human race on the straight and narrow path to immortality, he knew how to embrace life and live it as he and Kaye did with the raising their two children, Tony and Karen. In the Sunday School register of attendance at St John’s Anglican Church at Plenty you will see multiple references to Ron (that’s George) – absent, absent, absent.
George used to wear bib and brace overalls to school at the Plenty “university” with his pencil tied to them so no one would steal it, and he left school early to go to work instead of further education.
The friendships and bonds through sport last a lifetime, as was recalled by longtime friend John Shoobridge who gave a graveside eulogy on the life of George from the time they first met on the footy field around the mid-1960s.
A story was recounted of George when playing for New Norfolk in the TFL against Clarence, being knocked unconscious with a broken jaw after having collided with his own teammate in the form of the late Noel “Squizzy” Taylor. This is where Kaye learnt to drive – she had to get George to hospital and home.
George first played with the State School Old Boys, then Upper Derwent, New Norfolk and Kempton. The remuneration for playing with Kempton was half a tank of petrol and a side of lamb. George played more than 160 games with New Norfolk and was awarded Life Membership. He was a also a “Carlton Tragic”.
George and Kaye Menzies in younger days.
George Menzie and Kaye Walker became engaged and then married on October 3, 1964 at St Matthew’s in New Norfolk.
George loved all sports including greyhounds, horse racing (he had a share in a horse), golf, badminton, shooting, lawn bowls, fishing (he knew how to tickle a fish). George’s last “roo shoot” with his mates was on October 3 last year, and he was not well on that day according to John Shoobridge.
George’s regular shooting party at Cleveland, Ouse, was made up of cousin Maurice, Max Gleeson, Bricky Eiszele and Phil Rowbottom. In remembrance of their special mate, the party went shooting at Cleveland the day after George passed away.
Apart from a short stint of work at Redlands, George worked at Boyer, ending up as a foreman. In his retirement years he took up bowls with a passion, even travelling to Sydney on a bowling exchange visit. He also set himself up in woodworking and turning.
George was never idle. He was a seasonal cherry picker for his brother-in-law, John Woodhouse, and he contributed to the New Norfolk Rowing Club by repairing wooden boats and turning disused wooden boats into items of furniture.
As George’s flame of life flickered before extinguishing, he would have been proud of the mark he has left on humanity, through his two children Tony and Karen and their partners Janet and Rick and the next generation through Connor and Cassidy.
George’s graveside funeral service was held at Malbina Lawn Cemetery on May 20, where donations to the Cancer Council were accepted. Condolences to his family and friends.