The Old Paradians’ Association has honoured two of the College’s former teachers Barbara Bibby and Patricia (Rooney) Joss, with joint presentations of its Woman of Distinction Award.
Barbara and Patricia were presented with glass mementos at the recently-convened Association Monthly Luncheon at the RACV City Club in Bourke Street. Their respective husbands and former College teachers Ian Bibby and John Joss were also there for the presentations, together with their families.
Patricia Joss first became familiar with Parade in 1954, when her brother Paul Rooney commenced as a Grade 1 student at the Preparatory College in Alphington. Another brother Michael also joined Parade as a Grade 3 student, the classes for younger students having previously been phased out.
Through her teens, Patricia could have been forgiven for thinking Parade was the only Catholic boys College in existence as all the boys she knew were Paradians, the Our Lady’s College dances involved Parade students and her mother was an active member of the Parade Ladies Auxiliary.
Patricia told the story of how in 1972 the then Parade Preparatory College Principal Brother Parton called her to advise that there was a vacancy for a Grade 6 teacher.
“I couldn’t believe my luck,” Patricia said. “The next eleven years in Grade 6 Green were the happiest of my teaching career.”
For 10 years, Patricia coached the Parade Basketball teams that competed at Albert Park Stadium on Saturdays. Throughout this period, she also spent many a happy night at the oft-held Old Paradians functions.
In 1979, Patricia accepted a request from the late Rene Stella to produce Vaudeville’s Nights for the Old Paradians. This in turn led to Patricia’s collaboration with Barbara Bibby as musical director and many a memorable evening was spent penning the lyrics to the songs.
According to Patricia: “It was during the Vaudevilles that one cast member, being a prima donna wanted a bigger part and so asked the producer to marry him!”.
That cast member was John Joss.
When the Josses son Michael commenced his schooling at Parade Bundoora, Patricia joined the Ladies Auxiliary and duly served as President for five years. In Patricia’s words: “Lots of fun was had raising money, furnishing the theatre foyer, completing Brother Moore’s wish list and going on trips to the Casino and weekends away up on the Murray”.
In respect of Barbara, Old Paradian Geoff Carter, who taught at Alphington from 1976 to 1988, paid tribute in advance of the presentation. Geoff remembered Barbara’s considerable efforts as music teacher and pianist in supporting the late Bill Bottriel’s work with the boys choirs.
Geoff recounted one occasion where the College convened a special event at the Heidelberg Town Hall, and Barbara went beyond the call of duty to somehow co-ordinate all the groups to perform on the big night.
“She was always a fantastic support to Ian in the school sense because he had a lot of things to think about, not least of all their ten children – and he needed her full support,” Geoff said. “Ian always had that with Barbara and the fact that the Bibby boys all went through Alphington was another positive.”
John Cilia, a final year Parade student of 1990, also saw fit to contact the Old Paradians’ Association to offer his own personal congratulations to Barbara, his former music teacher.
“Mrs Bibby was a lovely lady. She was our music teacher and quite a fine pianist. She was one of those genuinely nice people you were happy to engage with and she got the best out of her students,” John said.
“I remember Mrs Bibby fondly from those days of choir practice, and whenever our paths have crossed in the years since she has always found time to say G’day and she always remember your name.”
It’s a measure of Barbara’s and Patricia’s humility that when each was independently notified that they were to be joint recipients of the Woman of Distinction Award, each replied that they couldn’t accept it ahead of the other. Fortunately members of the Association committee had already planned for this contingency.
Both Patricia and Barbara sincerely thanked the Association Committee for seeing fit to honour them, and both talked glowingly of the great sense of community that prevailed and still prevails amongst the many connected with Parade and the Old Paradians.
Barbara and Patricia now join Gizella, Shirley O’Rourke (2015) and Elizabeth Stella last year, as recipients of the Old Paradians’ Association’s Woman of Distinction Award. Both Shirley and Elizabeth were present when Barbara and Patricia were so honored, on a day in which Guest Speaker Dom Di Mattina (1954) offered a fascinating insight into the history of the Victoria markets from as far back as the days of John Batman.
Gizella Vermont, Parade Preparatory College’s art teacher and librarian through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, was posthumously honoured in the Old Paradians’ Association’s Centenary year of 2014.
Women eligible for this Award include those involved with Parade College, whether board member, administrator, teacher, support staffer, Ladies’ Auxiliary member, volunteer and mother; and those involved with the OPA through its member entities and associated activities.
Images of the Old Paradians’ Luncheon, Master of Ceremonies Ray Hangan (1950) can be viewed in the Image Galleries column to the left of the Association’s homepage, www.oldparadians.com.au