JOHN’S GIFT A LASTING LEGACY
From the very early days of the 20th century, the name “Collopy” was amongst the more famous of family names associated with Parade College and the Old Paradians’ Association – and through the generosity of Old Paradian John Collopy (Parade 1943) the name lives on into the 21st century.
A final year student of 1943, John recently saw fit to present to the Parade Archive a glorious collection of association annual reports of 1917, ’18 and ’19, menus and assorted documents from when his father Jack served as Honorary Secretary to Presidents Kennedy, O’Connell, Cody, Boyle, Cantwell and Matthews.
John’s wife Barbara said she had rediscovered the precious items in her mother’s old trunk and promptly sought her husband’s counsel. “I bought them into John the other day and said ‘What would you like to do with them?’ and he said ‘Give them to the Old Paradians”.
The OPA Annual Reports in Jack’s keep make for fascinating reading. The 1919 report, for example, recorded a list of 23 Life Members whose names may be familiar: Rev. N. Clark, Rev. P. Fennessy, Rev. N. Hoare, Rev. F. Merner, Rev. J. McNamara, Rev. P. O’Brien, Rev. T.B. Walsh, Rev. A. Martin, Rev. J. Norris, Rev. W. O’Collins, Mr. J.F. Cody, Mr. C. Cantwell, Capt. F. Frawley, Mr. J. Gorman, Mr. T. Hardiman, Major F. Hogan, Mr. E. Kinsella, Mr. D.P. Mackey, Mr. F.E. O’Connell, Mr. E. Pollard, Mr. G. Strachan, Dr. S. Newing and Mr. A. Dunn.
Then there were the association members, who paid annual fees of 5/- and 2/6 for the privilege. It is here that Jack Collopy rather gloomily noted in his report: “Your committee regrets that it is unable to strike a cheerful note in discussing this important subject”.
“The objects of the Association are ambitious, and its ideals no less so, but its ‘noble rage’ is sadly repressed by the lack of funds,” John recorded. “It was originally hoped that the Association would be able to provide scholarships at the College for lads who would afterwards shed lustre on the Parade, and for three years this was found practicable, but latterly it has been necessary to suspend this policy.
“The present unfortunate condition can be put down to one cause: the failure of members to realise the most elementary of their liabilities, namely, the payment of their subscriptions. If this trouble were overcome, the Association would progress by leaps and bounds.”
Amongst John’s precious items are a beautifully-crafted lapel pin presented to his father by the College for services to the Old Paradians’ Association – one of only two such items ever awarded, the other having gone to Matthews - although John is unsure of when the pin was bestowed.
John’s father John (Jack) Florens Collopy was one of three brothers schooled at Parade, together with George Brendan and William Anselm the youngest.
“Dad left Parade around 1906 and his academic career at Parade was quite good. He joined the public service, then completed his law degree,” John said.
“His next brother George worked in the customs department out of Customs House which overlooked Flinders Street Station and then joined the Jesuits.
“William Anselm was dux of the College in 1914, champion athlete and football captain and should have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. He became a doctor at Seymour Hospital at the time of its official opening and then he retired.”
John’s father assumed duties as secretary of the Old Paradians’ Association with the passing of MA Sullivan in 1916 and continued in that capacity through the war years until the end of 1918.
The President Cecil Cantwell, in his closing address to Members of the Old Paradians’ Association in February of the following year, acknowledged Jack’s substantial contributions and con ceded that he “leaves a loss which cannot easily be filled”.
“It is the privilege of your Committee to invite attention once again to the magnificent services rendered to the Association during the past year by your Honorary Secretary, Mr. J.F. Collopy, LL.B,” Cantwell noted.
“Despite the onerous nature of his position and the manifold discouragements with which he in particular as Secretary has had to contend, he has remained at his post in a manner which not only amply demonstrates his heartfelt enthusiasm for the success of the Association, but that he was the Association itself.”
Within the pages of the 1921 Golden Jubilee edition of The Paradian, in which Jack and his two brothers are featured, it was reported that Jack was declared a Life Member of the association in recognition of his secretarial duties.
Jack later served as Old Paradians’ Association President through 1954, ’55 and ’56, during which time the late Bill Dunne capably officiated as Secretary.
On Saturday, October 1, 1955, Jack formally opened the Parade Preparatory College’s main oval at Flowerdale during the course of the annual sports meeting.
As John explained, the Collopy connection with the College was profound.
“Dad was really mad on Parade and so was I. I enjoyed Parade more than any school I ever went to,” John said.
“I remember that when I attended Parade the houses were named after Old Paradians’ Association Presidents – including Matthews House (which I was in), which later became Collopy House.”
It’s 56 years now since Jack’s untimely passing. In 1960, at a meeting of the Hawthorn-East Melbourne Cricket Club in the old Sandy Ferguson Grandstand at Glenferrie Oval, he suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack. He was 69.
In tribute to Jack’s life, The Paradian of 1960 noted his commitment to the Old Paradians’ Association, his professional life as a solicitor, and his “undeviating loyalty to all that was good and honourable”.
The Paradian also reported the following:
“Parade College wishes to record her debt of gratitude to this noble son of the ‘Bluestone Pile’ and to record her sense of loss in his passing. He is remembered by all at Parade and in the ranks of Old Paradians”.
The Old Paradians’ Association and Parade College places on record its appreciation of John’s generous and very personal donation to the College archive, to perpetuate the memory of his father Jack and the Collopy family name.