Eulogy for Barry Deane

 My brother Tim delivered this eulogy for our dad, Barry Patrick Deane, at St Brendans, Shepparton, yesterday.


Barry loved a short Mass.

He was a regular at St Mel’s on Sunday evenings.

And he may have had a stopwatch on every Mass in Greater Shepp and found the shortest and sharpest—but by the book—sermon was over there.

With that in mind, I’ll be keeping this eulogy to the point.

We’re pleased that Barry’s funeral is here at St Brendan’s.

Speaking for Penny, Liza, Joel, Gemma and Camille—together with our spouses and children—we’re pleased because this feels like the spiritual home of the Deanes.

This is the place where – as a toddler – Barry crawled around the altar while the Mass carried on above his head.

This is the place where Barry served as an altar boy.

This is the place where the funerals of Barry’s parents – Pat and Jean – were held.

And this is the place where we’ve come to say goodbye to Barry.

In saying goodbye, this won’t be a chronology.

This won’t be a walk through his times as a clerk of courts … an insurance collector … a milk bar owner … a fruit picker … a real estate agent … a newsagent … a salesman … a taxi driver … or a Bunnings elder statesman. 

Instead, there’ll be a couple of stories to get a sense of him. A sense of the man who was the eldest child of Pat and Jean; had eight brothers and sisters – Peter, Ann, Paul, Patrick, Denis, Jan, Kay, and Margo; married Penny; and had five children – myself, Liza, Joel, Gemma, and Camille.

Barry grew up not far from here – at Orr Street and then Oram Street.

He was – according to reliable reports – a tearaway.

In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s – when Barry was knocking around with his brother Peter – Orr Street was a riot of kids.

And Barry was usually in the thick of it – especially if there was trouble.

That’s because Barry loved action and was good at making things – the kid who could make a pile of junk into a billycart fit for Stirling Moss.

Peter said, Barry was a leader. That he was king of the kids.

And he always kept that kid-like quality.

Maybe that’s why he loved cars.

He’d always be asking about your car.

How was it driving?

Have you checked the oil, the water, the tyres?

‘You know they drive faster when they’re clean.’

The classified car ads and classic car catalogues were his Catechism.

They were too many cars to count. But he did. He owned everything from Citroens to Sprites to a Fiat Bambino (a second car mind and ‘ran it for a dollar a week’) to Valiants and Chargers to V8 Commodores to Holden utes to South Korean creations which he made a solemn duty of convincing us were the best deals in town.

And he drove those cars for work and for pleasure and for escape.

Barry’s yellow Charger – in which he had a rare accident when driving the wrong way up St Georges Road in North Fitzroy – it was the other bloke’s fault – the Charger turned heads when Joel and I attended St Kevin’s, Toorak.

Yes, Toorak.

My schoolmates thought the Charger was cool. Or at least unusual.

I took a young woman to my Year 12 formal. Barry, me, yellow Charger, mag wheels, red stripe, picked her up from home. A night was had. She talked while Barry, me, yellow Charger, mag wheels, red stripe, dropped her back home.

She got out. 

The door closed.

We drove off. 

'She’s not for you, pal.'

Another example. 

One Sunday Joel slept in and missed a bus.

No big deal – except this bus was heading to Horsham for a rock climbing camp at Mount Arapiles.

This was Barry’s one day off for the week.

What did he do?

He drove Joel to Horsham, drove back to Melbourne, then got up and went back to work the next day.

Barry loved his cars.

He loved his boats, too.

But they didn’t always love him back. 

He launched one of his boats into Lake Nagambie without the plugs in. One of the kids saw it. Liza? I can’t remember who. And the day was saved. This was not to be spoken of again. But we often did.

Or the time we ran out of petrol on Port Phillip Bay. Also not to be spoken of again. But we did.

He loved his boats.

And I’m glad Barry took a final spin around Shepp lake with Peter Barker without coming to grief.

And I’m glad that he kept making plans, too.

A few weeks before he died, the old man decided to move down the end of Guthrie Street.

I understood it when I saw it. ‘Flat roof’ meant ‘modern’ in Barry speak. He wasn’t sentimental. And he’d take modern any day. Which was an extra reason you’d find him at St Mel’s by the way.

And the upstairs balcony at this new place had a view of the bush and a view of the freight train line. 

You see, Barry loved trees – wherever he lived he planted them– Especially Silverbirch. I always think of him whenever I see one.

And he loved to see the world in motion

… needed it to be in motion.

… and he loved to be in motion.

So we’ll remember him on the move, in his cars, in his boats, making plans, happiest talking about them, about fishing, the Murray River, talking about his Labrador Buster and any of his dogs, about Dookie, about Waranga Basin, about prospecting, about the ol’ man, about the ol’ girl, about Pop, and laughing easily.

Now he is still.

Now he is at rest.

And now he is at peace with God.

He was a man of faith and knew God loved him. We entrust him to God, and with all our love we say good-bye.

Barry and his Sprite

Barry and his Sprite