Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eulogy for dad

Emil's Video Tribute:

Stephen presented the sections in black, Philip presented the sections in red.

One day in 1949, a young man knocked on the door of a house in Flemington, Melbourne. In his own words, the door was opened by a “vision of beauty”. He was our dad, Eric Spencer, she was out mum, Edna Goold. He often said that she thought him a country bumkin, something which she never denied when she listened to him he telling us the story. We wouldn’t be here, but for that fateful meeting, and the romance that followed it. Dad said that they courted at the pianola, mum singing and dad pumping away at the pedals. Mum loved singing, but I suspect that the pianola was an excuse to sit together. young mum

Dad was born on 10th January, 1928, in the small country town of Broadford. Although history books often refer to the 1920s as the Jazz Age and a time of relative prosperity, this was more so in the USA and the major towns, rather than small country towns like Broadford. Among dad’s earliest memories were the struggles of his parents to make ends meet. One means of generating income was to take in boarders. During the 1920s the Bush Nurse, boarded with them and used the front entry way (hall) as her office. Anyone wanting to visit the nurse would knock on the front door, those visiting the family would enter by the back door. The advantage was not only monetary, they had their first telephone supplied by the Bush Nursing Association for the nurse. It was also convenient to have a nurse in the house, especially with two young children. She became a friend as well as a boarder.

Dad and his sister Betty were born in the Broadford house, but by 1936 the Bush Nursing Hospital had been built. Dad remembers the morning of Saturday, 11 July 1936. In his own words “My sister and I were unaware that mum was pregnant. Her labour started at about 7:30 am. Dave Newnham the General Store proprietor had been asked to transport mum to the Bush Nursing Hospital when the time came. I was sent to stand on the edge of the Hume Highway and to run back to tell the folk when he drove out of his driveway. I was very proud of being given this duty, but I now realise that it was probably designed to get me out of the way. Bill was born at about 12 o’clock after which dad came and told us the news, which caused great delight to Betty and me. We actually danced around in the street shouting out to all and sundry that we had a little brother.” The brother of course was William, (point to uncle Bill who was sitting in the front row). Dad and betty
Dad’s family were Methodists, and Dad’s father remained a Methodist all his life, but his mum gradually changed over to the Salvation Army. Dad’s parents were not particularly educated, but they valued education highly. They saw education as the way to “get on”. This resulted in a number of important decisions. The Broadford school finished at form 2 (Year 8) but the Seymour school went to year 10. The education provided at Seymour was also considered to be superior. This was one of the reasons the family moved to Seymour. When he had completed his education at Seymour, the decision was taken for dad to take Form 5 (Year 11), this was an unusual decision for families of the Spencer’s social milieu. Dad travelled to the nearest school that covered year 11, Benalla. He boarded there for the week and then travelled home (at considerable expense for the family) on weekends. Later he described how uncomfortable it was being the only working class kid, amongst the sons and daughters of wealthy farmers and shop keepers.
Dad completed his schooling in December 1943 and so required a job. He was a good friend of the State Savings Bank manager and was offered a job interview by the manager. In his own words: “I was accepted by the Bank and started work on 4th January, 1944. I soon discovered that I had again been thrown in at the deep end. All staff, including the new Junior Clerk were expected to perform at a high standard. This included appropriate dress and behaviour. At the interview where I was informed that I had been appointed to the job, the manager commented that I had attended the interview with an open neck shirt. He informed me that, when I worked at the bank, I would be required to wear a tie with sports pants and a sports jacket. As we used pen and ink, we had coats at the bank which we would change in to when we arrived at work so that our good coats would not be soiled. These coats became more disreputable over time. The office coat was a tradition that continued into the 1960s. The dress requirement had been relaxed by wartime exigencies. Before the war, for example, all staff were required to wear a hat when travelling to and from work.”
The banking processes at the time were quite Dicekensian. All of the processes were manual and included a great deal of mental arithmetic. There was no typewriter at the office and all letters were hand written in a letter book which included a carbon copy. One of his tasks was filling the ink wells and checking that the pen nibs were working and scraping the nibs clean, in the public area. Biros had not yet been invented and most writing was done with pens that were dipped in ink wells. He was involved in great changes in banking, and when he retired, bank work was totally computerised. Dad bank picture
Our first five years as a family were spent in Moonee Ponds and then in 1955 we moved to our new house in Glenroy. On Sundays we travelled to Kensington Corps of the Salvation Army, where mum’s parents, Senior Majors Frederick and Irene Goold were officers. They were long days. I remember one dark winter night as we arrived at Glenroy railway station, dad starting up a conversation with another bloke in Army uniform. I remember being quite irritated as Phil, mum and I watched them talk - all I wanted to do was to get home, but from that conversation this building and this Corps came into existence. Granville St House
One of the officers that were at Glenroy in the early days were Brian and Evelyn Golding. They would love to be here but unfortunately not able to. The photo shows Brian and Evelyn Golding with the Divisional Commander in the centre. Brian has sent this following message: I count it an honour and a privilege to pay this tribute to my friend Eric Spencer. Eric was a man of the highest integrity, totally committed to God and the Salvation Army. As a young raw Lieut. straight from the Training College it was Eric who became to me , a Mentor – Teacher – and Encourager in his quiet and unobtrusive way. Eric was the backbone of the newly established Glenroy Corps and so he was committed and passionate about its development and growth. Each week I would meet with Eric and Edna in their home to do the books . Eric being an accountant did the important parts and I took on a minor role. Eric’s neat script for Divisional Headquarters was so easy to read, unlike mine. It was always a very pleasant evening , with Edna providing refreshments and the two boys in the background. Eric also, was the Corps Sergeant Major and how fortunate I was to have a man of his calibre as my right hand man. He was an example to all and one who I could rely on for advice and support. Eric was never one to make a big noise and shout his testimony from the hilltops. He didnt need to do that, for every day his life was a living testimony to God. He lived it. Even today, that testimony still lives on in the lives of those who knew him and loved him. Today , I believe Eric is more alive than ever. Hes just changed his address for a far better one . He’s Home - Hallelujah. Ev and I send our love and prayers to Stephen and Margaret, Phil and Judith and to the families. We loved him too and thank God for his influence on our lives. Gouldings
Dad often performed tasks that did not come naturally to him. I remember in the early years of this corps, him arriving home from work, having a quick meal, and then heading our into the winter evening to collect for the Self Denial appeal. This went on for weeks. He did not like it but he collected as a sense of duty. Years later, when Self Denial was reorganised into the Red Shield Appeal, dad had a job that was much more to his liking – organiser of the money. Margaret tells a story from that time. She took Michelle, Beth and Cath out to collect but later could not find them. When she returned to the hall to tell Eric that she had lost three collectors, he said “don’t worry, they will turn up” but when she told him who they were his attitude changed completely and a search party was quickly organised.
I remember in one of my favourite yearly activities in the early days of this Corps was the Salvation Army Athletics Carnival. As YPSM it fell to dad to organise Glenroy’s event. His days off work were very precious to him, so the last thing he wanted to do organise and attend the athletics, but he did it because it was his duty. I remember one year when he was particularly struggling, and was delighted when Will Canham said that he would take over and that dad could go home. I was grateful to Will as I could enjoy the athletics and not worry about dad. Athletics marching
Dad was a proud man. We did not have a car for a long time, and used to get to this hall by bike or walk. I remember one night after band practice, (when we had walked) some of the bandsmen discussing who would drive us home. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get home. So imagine my surprise when dad said, “Come on boys we are walking home.” As we walked up the path he said “I won’t be treated like a poor relation.” As we walked down Glen street, John Faulds, one of nature’s gentlemen, drove up to us and offered a drive, which dad refused. I suspect that confused John as much as me.
Many people have mentioned dad’s generosity. I remember quite a lot of people (mainly family members) staying with us. Dad could also be financially generous. Both Phil and I could not have bought our first cars without dad’s considerable assistance. One time when dad’s sister, our aunty Betty was staying with us she saved my bacon. Dad and Betty were talking about a book, but we couldn’t find it. I thought (wrongly) that it was in the garage and went looking for it. There was no light so I lit a piece of paper, starting a fire as a consequence. Dad was not happy, but I did not get into much trouble when Aunty Betty reminded dad that he had done a similar thing when he was my age.
Mum and dad were wonderful grandparents, regularly looking after our kids. For instance, Beth and Cathy, and my cousin Stephen’s girls, Elise and Stephanie, walked from Primary School to mum and dad’s house to await Stephen and me picking them up after work. Mum and Dad also looked after Phil and Judith’s kids. The stories the grandchildren have previously told us show how much they loved their grandpa and grandma.
Mum and Dad loved going on holidays together. They often visited the Flinders Ranges and Mount Buffalo, two of their most favourite places. I went with them one time, Steve didn’t because he was doing matriculation (which is now year 12) and so staid home to study. We went to Canberra and through central NSW. That year the drought broke and I can remember that it was very wet! Caravan river crossing
In their later years mum and dad became a complimentary couple. Dad would do the physical work around the house and as dad’s memory deteriorated mum would have the role of remembering what had to be done. When mum’s stroke meant she would have to enter a nursing home dad had to go in to Colton Close with her. In Colton Close dad visited mum twice a day and attended many events just to be with her. Once she passed away he spent most of his time in his room and began a gradual decline. He clearly missed her terribly.

He became increasingly frail, falling a number of times. The last fall resulted in a fractured hip, which he never recovered from.

Dad had a very strong faith. He talked to me many times about this. He loved the songs in the songbook and he had many favourite songs and song writers. In particular he did like benedictions. He loved singing “Praise God I’m Saved, Praise God I’m saved, All’s well, All’s Well, He sets me free” There was also one other benediction he truly loved. Cameron and I went down to Colton Close on the Saturday, just before he went into hospital the second time to fix his chair. I am not sure whether he knew we were there but he was singing. Bill Canham visited Dad in hospital and he also sang it. Dad joined in as well. It is

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, And be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, And give thee peace.

This benediction gave him great confidence and assurance.

Dad passed away peacefully, in the afternoon of Saturday 14th March.


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