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JAMIESON, Robert Bruce (1923-2010)

JAMIESON, Robert Bruce (1923-2010)

Robert Bruce Jamieson ‘was the quiet achiever, a friend of many and a man of personal strength and integrity’ . The epitome of the unassuming man, he embodied the word ‘gentleman’ in all his dealings with people. Throughout his life he remained a generous, steadfast contributor to community service, especially through his considerable involvement in the Presbyterian and Uniting Churches. As Bursar of The Geelong College for 27 years, he presided over a financial transition that took the College from a single campus with 500 students to a complex business operation with some 1200 students. Bruce died at the Alfred Hospital on 7 August 2010 from complications arising from a fall.

Bruce Jamieson.

Bruce Jamieson.

Bruce was born at Windsor on 1 July 1923, one of three children born to parents Robert ‘Bob’ Forrester Jamieson and Kate Henrietta nee Crump. He first attended kindergarten in Hawthorn Rd before commencing his primary schooling at Caulfield Central School in Balaclava Rd. He later attended Scotch College from 1937 to 1938 and admitted that, unlike his brother John, his ‘academic prowess was somewhat limited’, but he did immensely enjoy playing violin in the school orchestra. Bruce left Scotch at the end of his intermediate year to join the Eagle & Globe Insurance Co. as an Office Boy. After 6 years in general office and sales work the Company transferred Bruce to Adelaide to assist in the establishment of a branch in South Australia. Prior to this, Bruce had married Morna Amy nee Mapledon at the Littlejohn Chapel at Scotch College. Bruce, Morna and their young family were to remain in Adelaide for 12 years. While in Adelaide, Bruce commenced and completed his accountancy studies with Muirden’s College. In 1957, he was appointed Company Accountant for Eagle & Globe and returned to Melbourne. In 1961, he became a member of the Society of Accountants and in 1979, a Fellow of the Society.

Bruce was appointed to the Geelong College in 1961, and commenced a long association with the College that lasted well beyond his ‘retirement’ in 1988. Bruce recalled that his predecessor, George Martin, 'still wrote up various journals by hand, with a steel nib and ink pot, sitting up on a stool against a sloping bench, much in the way Charles Dickens had portrayed'. Bruce served with three Principals, ensuring the business and financial continuity of the College during a period of profound, educational and social change. As Clerk to the College Council, he helped guide the College through the establishment of the Uniting Church and the subsequent incorporation of the College in 1982. A series of major building projects were completed under his financial and project supervision and he vigorously supported the move to co-education in 1974. He became President of the Bursar’s Association of Victoria from 1978 to 1980 and a life member in 1988. After his retirement, Bruce maintained his loyalty to the College as an aide at the College Pre-school, exam supervisor, committee member of the Friends of the College and honorary College archivist from 1998 to 2003.

His love of music continued to be a theme throughout his life. His mother was an organist of talent and played at churches throughout Melbourne, including St Paul’s Cathedral, where Bruce enjoyed sitting with her as she moved through the complex order of service. His father, a baritone, had helped establish the Caulfield Philharmonic Choir. Bruce had played with the Malvern Symphony Orchestra, the Junior Conservatorium Orchestra at Melba Hall, in Geelong, and with the College. He was particularly thrilled to help organise the National Music Camps at the Geelong College in 1961, 1966 and 1969, in which musicians such as the ABC Melody Man, Lindley Evans and Dr Percy Jones participated. This love for music and the College met when he donated his valuable violin to the Geelong College. This violin had been crafted by Johann Georg Lippold of Neukirchen, Germany in 1803 and had been given to Bruce in 1935 on his 12th birthday by his mother.

His many community involvements in Geelong included the Probus Club of Geelong West, Geelong District Nursing Service, Interchange, Barwon Region/Gateway Support Services, YWCA, ; Rotary Club of Geelong West of which he was president in 1987, and the Kalkee Community of which he was a board member from 1984, and life governor from 1999.

It was through the Presbyterian and later Uniting Churches however, that Bruce’s most extensive community activity occurred. His early association with the Church began at St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, North Caulfield where his father was a Church Elder and Session Clerk for 24 years. Bruce had first been elected to St Stephen’s Board of Management as a teenager of 17 years. After 1945, he and Lorna became members of the Hawthorn Presbyterian Church, South Australia where Bruce was inducted as an Elder, later becoming Session Clerk. Morna and Bruce had become extensively involved in the PFA of which Bruce became State Treasurer in 1952. On their return to Melbourne they settled at Syndal before becoming associated with St David’s Church, Newtown, Geelong where Bruce once again was appointed Session Clerk in 1966, eventually becoming a member and treasurer of the Parish Council.

During this period, Bruce worked on a range of committees of the Presbytery. In 1975, he was elected Moderator of the Presbytery of Geelong and in 1976, chaired the Provisional Presbytery working towards the establishment of the Uniting Church in 1977. From that date, he participated on a variety of Uniting Church Committees including the Synod Business and Audit Committees. Bruce’s work on the Audit Committee was groundbreaking in addressing concerns about the financial management of the Wesley Mission. He was especially proud of his participation in the establishment of Aitken College and of St Philips College, Alice Springs, of which, for several years he acted as a financial and accounting advisor to the Principal and Council, as well as participating on the Council.

Sources: Reminiscences of Bruce Jamieson; Ian Jamieson. CL.
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