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Sally Riordan

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[Leonie Blair]

 

It is a privilege to be able to take part in Sally's memorial service today, to be able to acknowledge her contribution to the life of St Leonard's College and her place in the hearts of those who were lucky enough to have worked with her. Like so many others, although Sally left St Leonard's some years ago, she is still considered to be part of the place, and the people there remember the mark that she made when she was there.

Sally joined St Leonard's College in 1984. She worked with Col Jamieson in the Print Room, where she quickly established herself as a very valuable member of the Staff. In Col's words, she was a great technician - indeed, she was one of the two people able to control the very willful offset printer. She was also a wiz with a defunct photocopier and very adept at taking apart and reassembling the printer or the photocopier, amid much muttering and threats, if it did not work.

It appears that, one day, when Col returned to the Print Room, Sally was nowhere to be seen. He looked around, and called out, only to be greeted by a muffled voice emanating from underneath the offset printer. Bending down, Col found Sally right underneath the old press, trying to retrieve a part that had fallen right through while she was reassembling a section that she had been repairing. Col was, of course, rather concerned that, had he not known that she was there, he might have walked in and started up the machine.

Sally ferreted out spelling mistakes, crooked lines and any defect in presentation, determined to turn out only work that she judged to be fit to represent the School. She was a fanatical paper-salvager long before this became a social "must".

Sally was more than simply a technician in the Print Room. Of course, she held a degree in Science, and she had worked at the C.S.I.R.O. It was notable that, at St Leonard's, she handled the printing for a wide range of subject teachers, but she never inflicted her scientific expertise upon the Staff or questioned anything they were doing - and this is typical of her self-effacing nature.

On the other hand, Sally was her own person - forthright, and not to be intimidated. She was honest with herself and with all those around her. She had a deep sense of integrity in all that she said or did.

She had firm opinions and was not afraid to stand up for them. Yet she was kind to those in need, and encouraged others to stand up for themselves. As a member of Staff said to me the other day, Sally was a good woman, in the true sense of the expression.

So confident was the School in her competence, that when Col took a year's leave of absence, Sally was given complete charge of the Print Room, and, of course, she took this in her stride.

With the arrival of the first computers, Sally very quickly became one of our resident experts, and was unflagging in her pursuit of professional formatting techniques and modern presentation of documents. She was always willing to be generous with her time in order to teach others how to get the best out of a computer that seemed mysterious or obstinate.

In fact, this is the Sally that we at St Leonard's hold in our minds and hearts - someone helpful, cheerful, kind, patient; someone with a delightfully rich sense of humour; someone who interacted with a wide range of Staff- certainly many teachers saw her as their saviour when they were trying to photocopy some worksheet for the next class and the machine would not respond - Sally to the rescue.

But Sally also developed close relationships with those Staff who did not teach - like the Library Staff (afternoon tea with them), the Office Staff, and she always had a cheery hello for the men in the maintenance crew.

We were all devastated when Sally suffered her first heart attack, and held our collective breath till we knew that she was on the road to recovery. Sally's return to work was welcomed by all.

Of course, Sally and Roger's three children attended St Leonard's, and this gave Sally another dimension to her attachment to the place. She was always an active participant at Community Day, setting up her own stall where she would sell the pottery that she had made herself. In later years she developed a new skill - water colour painting - and she would enter her beautiful works in the St Leonard's Art Exhibition.

Sally was very proud of the work that Roger did and of the growth of his business, developing computer software. Many of us followed the progress of this business through Sally, and some of us bought those little disks to protect our own hard work on the computer from some irresponsible person's destructiveness. Of course, the business took off in leaps and bounds, until finally, Sally left St Leonard's to join Roger in their antiviral adventure.

Like so many who have worked at St Leonard's, Sally did not allow her resignation to mean that she would lose touch with the School or her friends there. She attended the lunches and gatherings of the Golden Oldies - not necessarily old in terms of years, but definitely golden in terms of their part in the life of the School. It was also very pleasing to many of the present Staff that Sally came to last year's Cracker Night, the annual Staff knees-up, along with a number of other ex-Staff She was welcomed warmly, and those of us who had worked with her felt quite complimented that she had been keen to revisit her workplace and her workmates.

Sally loved the outdoors. She loved to walk, and I understand that she found great satisfaction in exploring the Victorian High Country. In later years, she continued walking around the local area. Each morning, she and Roger could be seen striding out, taking their daily constitutional. Many a teacher of St Leonard's responded to her cheery wave as they dashed to work in the morning. I understand that, only recently, Sally had given up riding her old bicycle, which had been her usual means of transportation to work.

And now we say farewell, Sally, from our hearts. We are pleased that you got to see once more your bluebells in the English spring.

We will miss you. But it is important to us that you have been part of our lives, and you will always be a part of our School family.

We offer our sincere condolences to Roger, to Peter, Adrian and Sarah, and we hope that they will find strength in their memories in the time to come.

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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2018

Tribute from Leonie Blair (St Leonard's College)