- Ian Joseph Rye By Ron Goward.
- The Ryes Lived Next Door to the Golf Course.
- Around About That Time, Stats.
- Both Ian and Mavis were Devoted to their Mothers.
- Ian was a Bit of an Expert on Gilbert and Sullivan.
Ian Joseph Rye By Ron Goward.
When Aunty Mave asked me to speak today, she told me she just wanted me to say what I'd said about Ian three years ago, at his 80th birthday celebration. I said then, that for me, Ian Rye was always there. He had been around for as long as I could remember, as a friend of the Smith family at Chermside, and later as a part of the family when he married Aunty Mave.
Family and friends played tennis at Dixon's court in Victor Drive, and Ian was always there. When we kids wanted to have a bit of a hit up, Ian was always there and willing to oblige. When we went away on holidays, Ian was always there, usually to drive us to or from Maroochydore or Caloundra or Mermaid Beach or Burleigh, or later to his family's house at Nobbies Beach. On our holidays, he was always there to bowl a cricket ball down the back yard.
He and Aunty Mave married about the same time as my late wife Alison and I did, and so at family gatherings, Ian was always there, usually at the business end of the tea-pot, or of the tea towel. His support of Aunty Mave, as she cared for Nan Smith at home was … well … he was always there!! And at Golden Downs, he was always there, supporting Aunty Mave as she did the thousand and one things she does, and that's just every hour!!
And he was always there, supporting my Mum too, who lived just two doors away. I said that Ian was a quiet man, a gentle man, a helpful man, a man always with a few words of wit or humour.
That's what I said three years ago. And whilst it's all true, it seems to me that such a lovely man deserves to have a bit more said about him on this day, as we focus on him, and celebrate his life.
Ian was born in Toowoomba a week before Christmas in 1923. His mum was Ellen Fraser when she married his dad Herbert Rye, who was a carpenter. Ian was one of six children, but two brothers died when they were quite young. As Ian grew up, Alf was the eldest, then there was Betty and then Marge and then Ian.
Ian was five years old when he contracted osteomyelitis. This incapacitated him for some time and an old girl friend recently sent him a photo of that time. It shows Ian propped up with cushions in a big cane chair, clutching a sun hat, his legs encased in thick woollen socks which his mum had to knit specially for him to help with the treatment for the osteomyelitis and to cover the plaster on his leg.
He eventually recovered, but it left him with a mild residual disability, which he tried never to stop him from doing what he wanted to do. Ian was, in all ways, always ready to just get on with life.
The Ryes Lived Next Door to the Golf Course.
The Ryes lived next door to the golf course at Middle Ridge, where Mr Hartman was the green-keeper. Now I mentioned an old girlfriend a moment ago. Whenever Mrs Hartman was looking for her daughter Gwen, or Mrs Rye was looking for her little Ian, they would usually find the two kids playing together, swinging on the front gate.
Ian started his schooling while he was at home with his sore leg. Mrs Hartman was a correspondence teacher and would send the lessons home to Mrs Rye. When Ian was sufficiently well enough to go to school at Rangeville, he threw himself into everything and was determined to play tennis and cricket, even though he was still getting round on crutches, which had been made by his Uncle Jack.
Ian went to Toowoomba Grammar School and completed his Junior Certificate - and for you younger ones here today, that's Grade 10. His first job was as a porter at the railway station at Roma. This is where he got his love of sweeping floors, and he had a special knack to it. Many years later Mave had a go at him for always sweeping backwards and his enigmatic reply was, "You weren't a railway porter were you … ." His early training on the platform at Roma was to stand him in good stead for later life, when he had to rid the house of sand at Nobbies Beach.
Ian joined the Queensland Public Service and worked in the State Statistician's Office. He met a group of people, many of whom remained his close friends all of his life, and some of whom are here today. He boarded at West End with a group of other fellows from the country.
When war broke out, Ian tried to enlist, but was deemed medically unfit, because of his leg, and so he remained at the Statistician's Office. His brother Alf was killed at Kokoda in November 1942, and Ian became even more determined to do his bit. After a lot of pushing, he was accepted into the army, and he was posted to a maintenance unit at Townsville.
Towards the end of the war, Ian and a couple of his Stats mates returned to Brisbane on leave and went into the Office to say g'day. Doug Smith was the boss, and said "We need you here and we need you NOW!" He must have had a fair bit of pull, because the boys never did get back to the services, and Ian started back at Stats. the very next day!
During the war, the girls at Stats. would write to the boys, not necessarily romantically, but just happy, friendly, chatty letters to keep their spirits up. Sometimes the girls and boys didn't even know each other. After the war, these young folk from Stats formed a very close-knit social group, getting together regularly for dances and balls, social cricket matches, and tennis fixtures.
One of the group was Dorothy Lowe, and Dotty introduced her friend Mavis Smith to the group, and thus Ian's fate was sealed, although neither he nor Mavis knew it at the time!
Around About That Time, Stats.
Around about that time, Stats became a Commonwealth responsibility. Some of the group stayed with the Queensland Public Service, and some transferred to the Commonwealth. Ian went to Townsville as the Regional Statistician in the early 1950's. He boarded with Mrs Hart, and became involved in the Townsville tennis scene, and was secretary of the Suburban Club for 5 years. Blanche Hart said of him recently, "He was a very popular man in the club. He could pour oil on troubled waters."
Ian's brother-in law was a bank manager in Townsville, when Ian was there. Ian had a lot to do with Bett and Ken and their growing family while he was in Townsville, and often minded the kids while Bett and Ken went to bank functions, and was at many of the special events in the family's life.
I'm sure the nieces and nephews on the Rye side of the family would agree with me that Ian was always there. Even though he lived away from his nieces and nephews for much of his life, he was nevertheless always very proud of their achievements.
By the time he returned to Brisbane, some of the Stats crowd had married, and were becoming preoccupied with families and children. Ian resumed his social activities with a group of largely single friends, based around tennis and cricket. A large group would meet every Saturday afternoon at Mrs Dixon's court just over the road from Nan Smith's house.
Nan would have cooked up a storm during the morning, and the tennis actually stopped so that everyone could sit round the table beside the court, and enjoy afternoon tea - together. And, as I said at the beginning, Ian was always happy to oblige, and my brother and sister and me were the recipients of Ian's infinite patience as he gave us a bit of a hit up during the break. After tennis, a big group of these friends would gather at Mrs Smith's for tea, followed by a sing song around the piano, or games of cards, or a slide night. In 1958, a group of them went to the Snowies on the first of several road trip holidays.
While Ian was in the Army, the Ryes moved to Kingsbury Street at Norman Park. Ian was devoted to his family and, years later, with Mrs Rye and Marge, they bought the little beach cottage with the elastic sides at Nobbies Beach. It should have been called "Dew Drop Inn" because that was what happened - anyone who was even remotely in the area would call in for a cuppa or stay for the weekend.
The walls literally expanded as it became obvious that two bedrooms were not enough, and the little flat at the back happily accommodated Marge and Mrs Rye while there were often a couple of bodies to be found sleeping in the screened off end of the car-port.
Both Ian and Mavis were Devoted to their Mothers.
Both Ian and Mavis were devoted to their mothers and, for many years, neither saw their way clear to enter into a serious relationship with anyone. In 1969 however, when Ian was 45, Mavis and Ian married, and Ian moved into the Smith's home at Chermside. Mavis and Ian had no children of their own, but all their nieces and nephews were treated as special by Uncle Ian and Aunty Mave.
During all the years that Ian's sister Marge worked at the Post Office, she worked a lot of shift work. After Mr Rye died, Ian always made sure that she got home safely at night. Before he could drive, or had a car, he would meet Marge at the tram stop and walk her home. And even when he moved to Chermside, he would often drive to the city to collect Marge, drop her home, then return home himself, back to Chermside.
As I said earlier, Ian loved sport. Sadly, during his cricketing days, his left shin got whacked with cricket balls a few too many times, and he ended up having to endure, not just a superficial skin graft, but a fully-blown flesh graft, which saw him have an extended stay in hospital. Around about this time he discovered the … er … joys of golf. No stranger to hospitals, he later had both hips replaced, and then ten years later had them both replaced again. Eventually he had to give up the golf, because of the difficulties he had walking.
Once he was established at Chermside, in 1970, Mave and Ian purchased the home at Kidston Terrace, and they all lived there together until Nan Smith died early in 1992. Ian greatly enjoyed doing the gardens, and doing things around the house. He had many bright and innovative ideas, and he enjoyed putting them into effect. Ian adored their dog Eliza, and relished her company for 16 years. He grew beautiful roses right across the front of the yard and up both sides. If roses were the love of his life, after Mavis perhaps, then bugs on roses were the bane of his existence.
In 1993, Mave and Ian moved to Golden Downs and immediately became involved in the social activities for which Golden Downs is famous. He was a member of the Resident's Committee for 5 years, and Convenor of the Table Tennis Group from its inception. He really enjoyed the games until he had to give it away finally late in 2006.
Even though he did not sing himself, he was closely associated with the Golden Downs Choir, and with the organisation of the many concerts they gave, and occasionally actually ventured onto the stage. One of the funniest skits Ian and Mavis did was when they played Dave and Mabel on their honeymoon. Mave reckons Ian's performance as Dave was priceless!
Although Ian was not a regular church-goer, he nevertheless had a quiet Christian faith. With Mavis, he attended the Methodist Church and then the Uniting Church at Chermside. From when he first moved to Chermside, Ian was involved with the Blue Nursing Service, and within a year or so took control of the annual Bluecare door-knock appeal, which he coordinated for almost 30 years.
Ian was a Bit of an Expert on Gilbert and Sullivan.
Ian was a bit of an expert on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, and would often walk around the house not singing, but saying, ditties from them. He particularly loved "Pirates of Penzance." He was also a great fan of Ogden Nash, the American poet, and Ian was fond of quoting a short verse called "A Word to Husbands." He would say:
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up!"
Ian and Mave have a calendar on the china cabinet with some lovely and inspirational thoughts. It's amazing isn't it how often the thought for the day corresponds so appropriately with what is happening at the time. When Mavis turned the page last Wednesday, she read something that Robert Browning wrote: "The great mind knows the power of gentleness, and only tries force because persuasion fails."
Ian was a gentle man. Ian was a kind man. I don't think anyone of us here could say they heard him ever raise his voice, or heard him say an unkind word about anyone. Someone said to me last week, "It's a real privilege when you meet a nice person."
On the top of Ian's casket is a picture from their dining room at Golden Downs. It has separate photos of Mavis and Ian. A caption below reads "We may not be perfect, but we are perfect for each other." Now that's an understatement! Most of us know Mavis as someone who is always running around doing something for someone else. But someone like that needs backup, and Mavis has said of Ian, "He was my backbone. I couldn't have done any of it without Ian's support."
Ian always took things in his stride. Especially in the last few months, he maintained his calm and methodical attitude, and would say to Mave, "It's ok - let's just take one day at a time."
At the beginning I told how, as I grew up, Ian was always there, often at the business end of the teapot or of a tea towel. Ian is not there anymore, but will remain in our memories and in our hearts for such a long time to come.