Eulogy by John Bowers

January 7, 2014 at 8:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

[The Lord] health those that are broken in heart; and giveth medicine to heal their sickness
(Psalm 142:3 BCP 1662)

David Andrew de Berigny Wall was my dearest friend, a somewhat benign though roguish adventurer yet a gentleman to boot; fervent of spirit, kind and gracious in heart while cultivating a remarkable and lively sense of humour! Not unlike God’s chosen people, his weary wanderings are now over and the promised rest attained!

David, born in Melbourne in 1936, was educated in Sydney at Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview. After leaving school, he worked in Papua New Guinea on plantations; and after a time circumnavigating the globe living on his Wits, Worked for the Department of Health in PNG for 18 years. In the 19703 he returned to Sydney and qualified as a teacher librarian, subsequently working in high schools for the New South Wales Department of Education and resident in Newtown, Sydney.

I first met David 44 years ago in Angoram on the banks of the mighty Sepik River in PNG. Angoram could then best be described as a wild frontier town of the East Sepik District somewhat reminiscent of the American Wild West. Here one found mosquito-infected tiger
country or more to the point, crocodile swamps where old time crocodile hunters, traders of skins for the fashion houses of Paris or New York, artefact collectors, kìaps and government officials, entrepreneurs of one motley kind or another commingled with missionaries, teachers, anthropologists, philosophers and mere opportunists. A rich assortment of characters with the appearance of an occasional femme fatale! David was then working for the Public Health Department. His battle was against the furtive anopheles mosquito bringing the deadly parasite malaria and death throughout the Sepik region. l was a young kiap or government patrol officer endeavouring to maintain law and order among such a small rambunctious community.

In 2007 David published a most delightful work of fiction: “Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk” recalling his adventurous memories and compelling stories. His friends remember with affection his perseverance, assiduity of purpose and kindly reflections. He was later to meet his beautiful Philipina, Deborah, who in becoming the love of his life, gladly reshaped his debonair spirit and occasional impulsive proclivities. At the same time, as a journalist in her own right, Debbie helped to guide the fiery oratorical skills of the Highland’s leader of the government opposition, Sir Tei Abel, as his press secretary.

After returning to Sydney, David set his mind to education and an honours degree in history at the Wollongong University; and then worked as a teacher librarian until retiring in 2005. His favourite word then became “legitimacy” which peppered many a philosophical discourse!

Just as he had shown a great love of the Papua New Guinean people so then he embarked on another magnificent paean in praise of his highly esteemed father, a popular physician, entitled simply: “Jim Wall, An Australian Life”. Rarely in my view today is it possible to observe the fifth commandment so movingly and faithfully portrayed and exemplified as in this loving work on his father. Not unlike his father, David had the gift of friendship, diligence and care which his father wrought before him, and remembers him thus:

He remains forever a senior, elder and guiding force – a truly moral and upright man; unattached to wealth and position, a healer of the ills of others, and in his practice as a physician and surgeon in the dead of night, in wintry rural Australia, called to attend to the sick and dying, more often than not with none or little financial gain to himself, he rendered without fear or favour all his wonderful medical skills!

(“Jim Wall An Australian Life” pg73)

David maintained his Wide interests in PNG by writing about it and making yearly visits to the country. He also became a keen blogger, and some of his blogging enthusiasts have revealed even in the short time since his death how much they will miss his involvement. Some have Written:

“I am sure many readers will miss his compassion, his insights and his deep and abiding
love for PNG and its people.”

0ne of the great patriotic loyalists of PNG; a character reflected in his writings.

What an adventurous life David lived. Sincere condolences to his family in their loss.

David Wall truly graced us with his thoughts on this blog.

And now what of his legacy? Often David was fond of regaling us with his father’s traditional caution from “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” when the boys left home usually on their way to boarding schools:

If schools are what they were in my time, you’ll see a great many cruel blackguard things done, and hear a deal of foul, bad talk. But never fear. You tell the truth, keep a brave and kind heart, and never listen to or say anything you wouldn’t have your mother and sister hear, and you’ll never feel ashamed to come home, or we to see you.

To Andrei Immanoel and David Augustus, I offer you this comfort, and suggest these memories are a precious legacy of your father – his strength and his love and concern for you both. I pray that the in Almighty’s care you will know His solace, and that such memories will keep your father close! Indeed, David never gave up appealing to me to “cross the Tiber, John” as he quaintly put it in many an afterthought! My last gesture was to send with Christmas wishes a refurbished and ancient copy of a youthful David on patrol in the Grass country of the Sepik together with a copy of the film “Walk into Paradise” made in 1955 featuring Chips Rafferty and my old hero, Freddie Kaad among 5000 highland warriors. It tells the story of a patrol verifying the discovery of oil in “Paradise Valley” beyond the headwaters of the Sepik River. My last communication from my old mate arrived on Monday of this week consisting of copies of his ANNALS Catholic journals which he often shared with me, the last of many kindnesses over the years of a staunch friendship! His latest Christmas ANNALS contained the beautiful prayer of John Henry Cardinal Newman surely a most suitable epitaph for my old Sepik wantok:


Blessed are they
who give the flower of their days,
and their strength of soul and body to Him;
blessed are they
who in their youth turn to Him
who gave His life for them.
Blessed are they
who resolve, come good, come evil,
come sunshine, come tempest,
come honour, come dishonour,
that He shall be their Lord and Master,
their King and God!
They will come to a perfect end,
and to peace at the last.

(Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1801-1890)


John E.Bowers

(3rd January 2014)

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