A steady procession of close friends, truly reflecting the measure of Kaye Nailer’s great love and empathy for people, are rallying behind the Nailer family following Kaye’s sudden passing at her home at the Bundoora Retirement Village on Tuesday morning.

Kaye’s death at the age of 77 was conveyed to the Old Paradians’ Association by her younger son Stephen (1987), a member of the Old Paradians’ Association committee. Older brother Paul (1986) was amongst close family members who have since shared their recollections of a lady whose links with the College can be sourced to the late 1970s when she gained work at the old Edmund Rice Juniorate.

“Mum’s first connection with Parade was really through Edmund Rice College at the back of the Bundoora Campus, when she was interviewed by Br. Russell Peters for the housekeeping role. That was in 1975 and that was her first connection,” Paul said.

“Steve and I were always going to go to Parade – particularly so after Mum worked for the Brothers at the juniorate. Most of the brothers there were retired – about 12 in all – while the younger brothers lived at what is now the College’s administration block.

“Her role was part-time, helping with the cleaning and preparing the Brothers’ meals. She was always there because her work tied in well with her school hours . . . and she loved it.”

Kaye’s working arrangement with the Juniorate led to a connection with the broader College community for the next 46 years of her life – which included the Brothers domiciled at the Treacy Centre and Amberley, fellow members of the College’s Ladies Committee and the many and varied identities of the Old Paradians’ Amateur Football Club.

Kaye’s connection even extended to Africa, where she crossed paths with Brothers Cole, Lockwood and O’Shea, who were all committed to the College’s Mission.

Born to Jack and Alice (nee Marshall) Collins on New Year’s eve 1943, Kaye was the oldest of three children, preceding brother Jim and sister Jill.

Kaye’s great sense of community had a lot to do with her upbringing in the Latrobe Valley, as Jill recently explained.

“Kaye was born in Yallourn, but we all moved to Newborough in 1955 when Mum and Dad bought a new home,” Jill said.

“We lived in a strong multicultural area – lots of Dutch and Poles – and the politician Matthew Guy’s family, who were Ukranian, lived next door.

“There was a real Eastern European presence where we were, and a big Italian presence in nearby Morwell – and they were all terrific people.

“Multiculturalism meant nothing to us because we all grew up with it. Everyone knew everyone, Kaye included. She was just like our mother Alice – community spirited and very sociable.”

Kaye first attended St. Therese’s Catholic Primary School in Yallourn and was later a foundation student at Moe’s Presentation College. On completing her studies, she found secretarial and sales work at Newborough’s Gub Considine real estate agency – before embarking on the pilgrimage to Melbourne and taking up lodgings at the Princess Mary Club – a hostel for young women – near the theatre district in Lonsdale Street. There she boarded for a few months until the Methodists overseeing the premises learned that she was of the Catholic faith and politely asked her to seek alternative arrangements.

Kaye duly relocated to the St Kilda junction, where she shared a flat with a few close friends - amongst them Bev Wheeler who later married the Formula One world motor racing champion Alan Jones. She subsequently found work with T & G Insurance in Collins Street, and in October 1967 exchanged wedding vows at Newborough’s St Mary’s Catholic Church with the Indian-born Gavin Nailer whom she had met at a party at her St Kilda flat.

As Gavin was an ANZ banker by profession he was regularly transferred with his employment, and Kaye dutifully followed – initially to Myrtleford where Paul and Stephen were born in 1968 and ’69 respectively, and later Wodonga where daughter Jenni was born in 1971.

Having become aware prior to Jenni’s birth that the baby would carry a heart condition, the Nailers resolved to relocate to Melbourne where Jenni would be in close proximity of the hospital that would house the six month-old infant up to and beyond her open heart surgery.

The family eventually settled in a new Bundoora housing estate, specifically at No.54 Arthur Street. Gavin and Kaye put their children through schooling at the nearby St Damian’s – and later enrolled Paul and Stephen at Parade, and Jenni at Loyola. Jenni’s health remained a constant source of concern for her parents and she underwent major surgeries in the ensuing years – all of which warranted many, many days of convalescence at the family home.

As a means of helping her daughter maintain a positive outlook, Kaye sought the support of the then Fitzroy footballer Paul Roos, whom Jenni idolized. Throughout the years, Roos visited Jenni at Arthur Street and always sought to check in on the young girl’s progress.

In 1991, Jenni, then 19, underwent an incredibly complex heart/lung transplant. Tragically, she never really recovered from the complex surgery and she died in the Royal Children’s Hospital on Anzac Day of that year.

The devastating loss of Jenny impacted severely on the Nailers, particularly Gavin, who tended to keep his emotions in check at a time when grief counselling wasn’t widely-practiced. It was here that Roos and his wife Tami again lent invaluable support. On each of the subsequent anniversary dates of the young girl’s passing, the Roos’ made a point of talking to Kaye – whether in person or via telephone from the United States where they lived for a time – and only last week the Sydney Premiership coach took Kaye out for lunch.

Another great source of support was the Old Paradian Paul Healy (1986) who with each anniversary of Jenni’s passing would always send a card to Kaye.

In March 2016 Kaye lost Gavin, her soulmate of 48 years, as her close circle of friends closed around her. One of them was her dear comrade Di Vear, who by virtue of her sons Michael (1983), Lucas (1986) and Matthew (1987) attending the College committed her energies to the Parade Ladies Social Committee.

“I first joined the social committee when my boy Mick, who’s 55 now, first joined as a student. The late Jean Flynn was involved on the committee, and Shirley O’Rourke and Ann Kerr were amongst the originals,” Di recalled. “Kaye came in a bit later when her boy Paul commenced at Parade, and Paul was the same age as my Lucas - but we already knew each other from St Damian’s where the boys went to primary school.

“Kaye’s involvement with the social committee was huge. She was such a great networker and she knew everybody. She was incredible personable and truly inspirational.

“Our connection endured for more than 40 years, even beyond the Parade days. The ladies who made up that committee continued to meet every three months or so for lunch, more recently at the Lower Plenty Hotel, and we also caught up at the Old Paradians Luncheons at the RACV Club – and Kaye used to round them all up.”

Parade Ladies gather for lunch at the Lower Plenty Hotel, 2019. Clockwise from left to right: Pam Wood, Kaye Nailer, Lyn Evans, Diane Vear, Marlene Bloom, Maureen Healy, Joan O'Laughlin, Danuta Farrell, Marea Way, Marie Harrison, Jean Smith, Maureen Ellks, Bep Thomas, Karen Arnott, Kerri Keating, Sandra Dimech and Veronica Amsing.

Son Stephen’s observations of her mother’s involvement with the College community are similarly glowing.

“Mum and the ladies as a group were probably more Paradian than most OPs,” Stephen said. “They were all in the ladies auxiliary and they all raised sons who went to Parade.”

In late April, Kaye received a letter from the Old Paradians’ Association President Paul Shannon, advising that she had been adjudged this year’s recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award, in acknowledgment of her significant contributions to the College and the Association over many years.

On receiving the letter, Kaye called the Association to convey her deep appreciation for the award, which was to have been formally presented to her at next Wednesday’s Association Luncheon at the RACV Club.

Though her health was failing, Kaye confirmed her attendance at the luncheon, maintaining to the end that positive outlook on life. As she said at the time: “I am honoured, humbled and completely overwhelmed”.

Though fate has since played its cruel hand and the award will now be presented to the Nailer family at another time, they take great comfort in the knowledge Kaye knew she was to be recognised in this way.

So too Di Vear. To quote Di: “That was a great high . . . and I felt so honoured for her because she deserved every bit of it”.

Kaye was the beating heart and soul of Parade College, and of the Nailer clan. Younger sibling Jill, perhaps speaking for all, said she would remember her big sister as “the girl with the heart of gold, kind and generous in every way”.

“When Mum died I placed a notice which read: ‘She loved people, she loved life and she loved us’ – and you could say the same about Kaye,” Jill said.

“She was a people person.”

Kaye Nailer is survived by her sons Paul and Stephen, their respective spouses Kim and Kimberley, and five grandchildren – amongst them Steve’s son Jack, a Year 10 Parade College student.






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accessibility issues. A wake will take place in the Greening Auditorium

immediately following Kaye's funeral: private burial to follow.

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May 22 at 10:30 AM (Aust EST)

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