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Peter Bull
11 years ago

Eulogy for Leslie William Bull (8/9/1920 – 26/10/2011) 1 February, 2011 On behalf of our family I would like to thank you all for coming today to share with us in the celebration of Dad’s life. Our celebrant, Richard White, asked me on Friday what my Father was like and what particular memories did I have of his life. I responded that there were no major achievements that I could recall except that he was a good family man and above all he was a good bloke. He loved the company of his family and also the company of his mates. His “modus vivendi” was to value people for their actions rather than their status. He considered people then in two only categories – you were either a good bloke or you weren’t. If you were then you had no greater friend or supporter than Dad. If not, then he just wouldn’t bother with you. Some of you here today have known my Father for a long time, some for only a short while, and others had never met him. I would like to spend the next few minutes outlining some of Dad’s life so that you may get to know a little about the man we loved & respected. Dad was born in Balmain on 8 September, 1920, the second son of Harold Joseph (Pop) and Vera Isobel (Nanna). He was named Leslie after his Mother’s late brother, who died in his infancy, and his grandfather, William Bull. In 1928 the family moved to Hunters Hill where he and his two sisters, Nancye & Noela, were amongst the first pupils to attend the new Boronia Park Public School. Dad attended primary school regularly (he had little choice as the house backed onto the school!) and showed some talent in mathematics. This talent saw him accepted into the selective school, Fort Street Boys High. He often bragged he was a “proud old boy”, but in reality he seldom attended. He reasoned that such a long tram trip should be rewarded with something a little better than schoolwork, so he went to the State Theatrette each day to watch Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton movies. To finance this new decadent life style he secured a part-time job as a messenger/telegraph boy, running errands around the city. He enjoyed the freedom and often earned up to 5/- per week. This all contributed to his love of silly comedy and made him street wise. Unfortunately his career came to an abrupt halt when Nana became suspicious that he was going to school during the school holidays! As a result Pop arranged an electrical trade apprenticeship with the Warburton Franki Company. Dad was reluctant to accept because it only paid 2/- per week, but he had little say in the matter. Dad remained working at Warburton Franki for the next 30 years. He attended their annual reunion up to & including 2008 where the photo on this memoriam card was taken. He met my mother at Warburton Frank, where she worked in the typing pool. They married in 1942 in a double wedding ceremony with his best friend and beloved brother Harold, who married Aunty Peg. During the War Dad was seconded into the Merchant Navy, serving on a number of different troop ships ferrying soldiers back and forward along the east coast. Thus began his life-long love of going to sea. Mum and Dad moved to Double Bay in 1942. (It was cheap after the Japs had bombed the harbour!) They raised their family then moved back to Hunters Hill in 1968. After the War, Dad continued to work on ships, becoming a marine electrician. He was seconded onto the Shell tankers running oil from Indonesia to Australia. The life at sea was tough in those days and he was frequently away for long stints. The pay was slow arriving and Mum needed to take on domestic work to make ends meet. Dad’s only real health problem throughout his life was a recurring stomach ulcer, and he almost bled to death whilst at sea. He was subsequently banned from taking any further long sea journeys for fear of recurrence. Not happy with this restriction to his freedom he decided to establish his own business – KB Refrigeration. Mum was always concerned with this decision, particularly so after he announced he would use the phone at the bar of the Paddington RSL as the office phone to reduce overheads! Predictably this venture failed and the family fell onto hard times again. Dad did shift work at the Kurnell refinery until he met an old seagoing mate who was now a senior manager at Howard Smith Shipping. Again he was back at sea, initially on small coastal freighters until he was offered a position on the company’s new flagship tanker, the Express. Life was now different. Conditions were excellent – good pay, 8 weeks on & 8 weeks off. He was happy again. In 1985, following the sudden death of his brother Harold, Dad decided to retire. His retirement years were good, spent with Mum and his family. In 1999 he lost Mum and his life again went downhill. He suffered health problems and loneliness, not really able to cope alone. Karen & I moved in a year later to be his full-time carers and his life improved again. Without the care my wife Karen afforded him, I am certain we would have had this funeral many years earlier. Dad suffered from deafness, the result of his genes and noisy engine rooms, but compounded by his impatience and stubbornness. Annoyed to be kept waiting at the Repat audiologist when being fitted for a state-of-the-art hearing aid, he falsely claimed to be able to hear sounds while being tested because he did not like the audiologist. From 2006 onwards his mental health deteriorated, finally being diagnosed with both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He moved into Wirraway at the War Vets Village at Narrabeen. This is a high-care facility for dementia patients. I would like to acknowledge the caring & kindness of all the staff at Wirraway who made Dad’s last years comfortable. He was unable to recognise most people except Karen, who lit up his face every weekend when we visited. Dad died of pneumonia on Australia Day. I hope this life journey I have related today gives you some insight into our Dad. Richard had suggested I might read a favourite poem or verse from Dad’s favourites. Unfortunately looking through his large collection of Spike Milligan, Goon Shows and Monty Python books, none would be quite appropriate to read today. Dad only had one favourite song – anything that Ella Fitzgerald sang! If Louis Armstrong was also on it then it had to be his favourite. I would like to play you such a song and I ask you to join with us in remembering Les Bull. - Peter Bull

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