Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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DAVEY, Desmond Drewitt OAM (1920-2008)

DAVEY, Desmond Drewitt OAM (1920-2008)

'Des' Davey in front of his portrait by Robert Hannaford, 2001.

'Des' Davey in front of his portrait
by Robert Hannaford, 2001.

Educator, community advocate, and College staff member, ‘Des’ Davey, was educated at Essendon High School and completed a BA at Melbourne University in 1942. Des started his teaching career at Geelong College in 1943. His wife Audrey, a physical education teacher started at Morongo that same year.

In those early years, he was an Assistant House Master with an enduring interest in music, sport and the School Magazine Pegasus. Among the highlights of his early work was his establishment of the College PFA and his attendance as a delegate at the World Confederation of Christian Youth in Oslo in 1947. After a period as Headmaster of Scots College, Warwick from 1949 to 1955 Des returned to the Geelong College in 1956 intially to teach languages - French, Latin and English, then becoming Vice-Principal from 1958 to 1971 and Deputy Principal and Director of Studies from 1972 to 1973. At times, he acted as Principal during the absence of Dr Thwaites, and was first noted as doing so from Easter until November, 1965 when Thwaites was overseas. He was described in his early years at the School by Pegasus as having a 'cheerful and infectious enthusiasm and an apparently inexhaustible supply of energy' . In 1974, Des took on the challenging task of becoming foundation Head of the new Eltham College – a position he held until his retirement from teaching in 1983.

The Principal, Dr P Thwaites, in 1973, praised Des’ contribution to the School 'in achieving the various transitions and adaptions needed to establish the new Preparatory School, build the new Science Laboratories, alter Morrison Hall, reorganise the boarding houses, develop the Rolland Centre, plan and operate the new library, and in the midst of this material change modernise the whole academic program'. Although Des retired from active teaching his lifelong support of the value of education supported by Christian values continued. He served with the Council for Christian Education in Schools in Geelong as Chairman, assisted in the establishment of Christian College, Highton, was consultant to the Commonwealth Schools Commission, and surveyed church schools for the Uniting Church Synod and National Assembly. Over the years, many state and federal and church committees benefited from his membership of them.

He also had a long association with Rotary which he joined in 1952, his service recognized by their highest award, a Paul Harris Fellowship. His legacy has been honoured through a kindergarten in Warwick, built by volunteers with his leadership, Davey House at Geelong College and the Davey Library at Eltham College. In 2006, Des Davey was awarded the Order of Australia for his 'services to education as a teacher and principal and through contributions to a number of professional organisations’ . His portrait by Robert Hannaford is on display in Davey House at the Geelong College Senior School.

Sources: Pegasus 1973 p87; Pegasus December 1975 p5; Ad Astra No 111 December 2006 p26; Obituary Geelong Advertiser 14 June 2008.
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