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LESTER, Edward Brian (c.1903-1967)

LESTER, Edward Brian (c.1903-1967)

Staff member and long serving Senior Mathematics teacher, Brian Lester died at the age of 64 on 25 June 1967, after a long and distressing illness. ‘Brian Lester came to the College as Senior Mathematics master during 1932. He had been a brilliant student first at Ballarat Grammar School and then at Geelong Grammar School and followed this by graduating MA at Melbourne University after an honours course in mathematics. He had served his apprenticeship as a teacher for short periods at Geelong Grammar School and at Sydney Church of England Grammar School. For more than thirty years thereafter he taught at the Geelong College. He loved his work, he drove himself hard, his students likewise; he had a gift for lucid explanation, an intolerance of muddy thinking (not only in mathematics) and an unending patience with those in real difficulty. Over the years many pupils had reason to be grateful for these qualities.

He was prominent in his profession not only at the College. For many years he represented the College staff in the Victorian Assistant Masters' Association, was greatly interested in the ethics of the profession, and served a term as President of the Association. He was a member of the Standing Committee for Mathematics of the Schools' Board and an examiner in mathematics for the public examinations.'

Brian Lester.

Brian Lester.

His influence at the College and in the outside world did not begin and end with mathematics. He was interested and active in almost every department of school life. He coached cricket and football teams, umpired matches, but perhaps his favourite school sport was tennis. This he organised and controlled at the College for a very long time so that in his time it came to be regarded as a major sport. As Housemaster of Shannon House he took a great interest in the activity of its members. He was a keen stamp collector, a member of the Geelong Philatelic Society, and helped many other keen collectors among the boys in association with the House of Guilds. But his overriding interest outside his immediate work was music. He had a fine baritone voice (it is interesting that his father was a tenor soloist in the famous choir of King's College, Cambridge) and apart from solo singing he was very active in choral work. He was a member and first President of the Geelong Choral Society when this was re-formed as a unit of the Geelong Association of Music and Art (GAMA) and was a foundation member of the GAMA council, of which he remained a member until illness necessitated his withdrawal.

In the days when music was almost nonexistent at the College he strove, by community singing sessions, to arouse some interest and, for those more interested he established a group known as the Glee Club, later a name to conjure with when music had been established as a serious matter in the school. That it did become a serious matter is partly due to him, as he undoubtedly helped to influence the then Principal, Francis Rolland, to build the House of Music and engage a Director of Music. Brian Lester was notable for producing the first Glee Club production of 1935,
The Monastery. In the later Glee Club he still showed his interest, helping to train principals for the Gilbert and Sullivan performances. One of his last musical activities was to take the part, and very ably, of Noah in the College production of Noyes Fludde.’ Shortly after this production his illness made itself apparent. Only the day before his death the Old Geelong Collegians' Association gave him the only honour it could by making him an Honorary Life Member.

The house on the corner of Noble St and Talbot St was re-named Lester Square in his memory when it was used as a senior boarders’ residence for several years. Both the Brian Lester Prize for Mathematics for the top Year 12 Mathematics student and its replacement the Brian Lester Prize for Specialist Mathematics were named in his memory.

Sources: Council Minutes 27 July 1967; Ad Astra September 1967 p 2; Pegasus December 1967 p 13.
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