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Pat Riordan

Patricia (Pat) Margaret Burrows (22.12.1937 – 14.12.2010)

Pat Burrows was the daughter of Arthur Owen Burrows (1904-1984) and Edna Alma Clara Gorringe (1909-2000). She had an older brother Owen Geoffrey, born 26.9.1934, and a younger brother Ian Donald, born 20.11.1944.

Her father worked in the family business Burrows and Meek, started by Pat’s grandfather Arthur Propsting Burrows and his partner Mr. Meek. The business, which occupied premises in Elizabeth Street Hobart, sold leather and grindery and sports goods.

Pat started school at Collegiate in the last term of 1940, before she had turned four. Her father commented that she was the smallest schoolgirl he had ever seen! She stayed there until she matriculated, and in 12 years never missed a day. She studied music, and for a number of years she played the piano at the daily school assemblies. She (and her whole family) was very involved in sport.

When Pat was born the family lived in Greenlands Avenue, Dynnyrne, and Pat was able to walk home for lunch, as was customary in those days. In about 1950 the family built a new house in Nile Avenue, Sandy Bay, with beautiful views over Mt Wellington and the Derwent River. Most of the houses in Greenlands Avenue were destroyed in the disastrous bushfires of February 1967, but their old house escaped, and is still standing.

Pat was particularly good at tennis, and won the statewide competition for the Pardy Shield for the first time when she was about 14. She won it on several more occasions, and also represented Tasmania in the Tasmanian team for the interstate Wilson cup, for players under 19, for five consecutive years. She played in every state except WA, and on her first trip she was accompanied by her mother, as she was only 14. For many years her mother, in conjunction with Paul Harris, ran a tennis tournament for all Tasmanian school children.

When she was 17 her mother made a trip to Hong Kong to see her sister-in-law, and Pat was left to look after her father and her younger brother Ian for four months.

Her matriculation subjects were German, biology, English and music, and this group of subjects made selection of a tertiary course difficult. She started radiography at Royal Hobart Hospital but she had to do the academic component of the course by correspondence with Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She was handicapped by her lack of physics, and after a year she gave up this course and did a course in shorthand and typing. She soon got a job as a typist with the Mercury newspaper in Hobart, and was then invited to work for Senator John Marriott, with whom she remained until she left for Melbourne in 1959.

When she left school Pat continued to play tennis, but also became interested in golf, and joined the Kingston Beach golf club, where she played with her family and colleagues.

In about 1952 she met John Philip Herman from Melbourne, who was visiting Hobart on holiday, through mutual friends. They remained in contact, and in 1959 she accepted his proposal. They were married in St David’s Cathedral in Hobart on 14.11.59.

She came to Melbourne with John, who worked in the plastics industry, and got a job as a typist with Russell, Kennedy and Cook, thereby shocking her mother and her friends, who did not consider this at all a ladylike thing to do. She had no legal training, and had applied for a job as a general typist. This job had already been taken, but legal secretary Mary Griffith offered her a higher paying job as a legal secretary, which she somewhat reluctantly accepted. Her misgivings were well founded, as she not infrequently found herself being asked to prepare contracts and the like – for which she had no qualifications at all – without any qualified supervision.

Pat and John moved into a flat in Grosvenor Brighton, close to the Brighton Yacht Club. John was very interested in yachting, and spent a lot of time at the Yacht Club. In 2001 Pat presented a Sabot dinghy, christened the J.P.Herman, to the Club to be used by aspiring young yachtsmen.

John and his family were also interested in golf and Pat joined the Woodlands Golf Club where they played. Pat later joined Peninsula Golf Club at Frankston, where she was an active player almost until she died. In April 2010 she played in the Club Pennant Team and scored a hole-in-one on the 11th hole – her first ever!

Pat & John had three children: Andrea Jane, born 25.7.63, Ian David, born 11.10.65, and Richard John, born 31.7.67. In 1965 they bought a house in Comer Street, East Brighton.

When Andrea started kindergarten at St Mary's Pre-school in East Brighton John was elected to the kindergarten Committee of Management, and Pat to the Mothers Committee. Also on these committees were Roger Riordan and his wife Sally (Shirley-Ann). Sally was elected the Secretary of the Mothers Committee and Pat the Assistant Secretary, but as Sally could not type, Pat became the unofficial acting secretary. Their boys played together while they were at primary school, and the two families became good friends.

When the children got older Pat began to work again, and for several years was part-time secretary to Roger and Sally in their business Cybec Electronics. She also did casual work for several Melbourne barristers, including Jack Keenan and Geoffrey Gronow, and later worked for this group at Owen Dixon Chambers. The group included rising young barrister Peter Costello, and when he decided to go into politics in 1990 he persuaded her to join the Commonwealth Public Service as his personal secretary. When she retired in 2000, he wrote her a letter of thanks in which he commented that the best piece of advice she ever gave him was the one he ignored – “Don't go into politics!”

When the company John worked for was wound up, he bought a plastic slitting business in a small factory in Huntingdale. Customers would provide rolls of plastic which the business slit into narrow ribbons, which were used to make packaging envelopes, lolly wrappers, and for all manner of similar purposes. The equipment was fairly primitive, and all the labourers were Greek, with little English, but John worked hard and was able to run the business profitably. However he was a perfectionist, and suffered high levels of stress. In the early 90's he suffered a heart attack, and had a multiple bypass operation. This was only partially successful and his heart gradually failed. In 1993 Pat developed breast cancer and had a partial mastectomy, from which she recovered successfully, and on Christmas Eve 1995 John died of a second heart attack.

Meanwhile Roger and Sally had closed their electronics business, and after Roger had lectured for some years at Chisholm Institute of Technology, he wrote the first version of the antivirus program Vet. This was quickly successful and in 1990 Roger retired from Chisholm to work on Vet full time. In 1999 Sally and Roger sold Vet to the US company Computer Associates, and Roger retired. In May they went to England for their first real holiday, but after they had spent a few days with Sally's sister Jane at Henley-on-Thames Sally died of a heart attack.

On New Year's Eve in 2000 Roger persuaded Pat to marry him, and together they continued the charitable work which Sally and Roger had started in 1996, when Vet began to make real money. They set up the Cybec Foundation in 2002, and Pat made an invaluable contribution to the Foundation with her business skills, and her ability to quickly assess the character of the people they had to deal with. They also developed and maintained warm relations with both the representatives of the organisations they assisted, and the individual beneficiaries.

Pat & Roger enjoyed trips to many parts of the world, on which they made a number of friends. In late 2005 Pat was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, and had a hysterectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She recovered well, but a few years later the cancer reappeared. In the second half of 2010 it began to spread rapidly, and Pat died peacefully on 14.12.2010. She was always cheerful and positive, and continued to help and think of others until the end.

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2017

Pat's life