The following tribute to Old Paradian the late Brian O’Shannassy (1941) was recently penned by another former student of the College Bill Serong (1953) - the former Collingwood and North Melbourne footballer whose friendship with Brian spanned half a century.
Bill was happy for the following tribute to be shared in honor of a true gentlemen, while Brian's son Neil availed his wartime portrait to accompany the tribute.
Brian died at Drouin, Victoria on August 26, 2019, aged 94 years. His wife Gwendoline predeceased him four years ago and he is survived by his children Terry, Garry, Lynne and Neil.
Brian was born in Melbourne on 30 May, 1925 and raised in Clifton Hill, Victoria, where he attended St Anthony’s Primary School before moving to Parade C.B.C. at East Melbourne for his secondary education.
Upon leaving school in 1941, Brian joined the Taxation Department in Lonsdale Street Melbourne and worked there for some years before eventually setting up practice as an accountant in Fitzroy with H. Miller and Associates.
As a youth he was a member of the Y.C.W. at St John’s Clifton Hill where I first met him in 1942. At 17 years of age he won the bantamweight division of the Y.C.W. Golden Gloves boxing for the state of Victoria and in the same year his training partner Kevin “Skeeter” Coghlan, of Collingwood and Hawthorn VFL fame, won the Flyweight division in the same competition.
In 1943, upon turning at 18 years of age, Brian joined the Royal Australian Air Force for service in World War II. He was promptly seconded to the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) in England for training as a tail-gunner in bombers over Europe where he served for a significant time before the end of the war in 1945.
Upon returning to Australia, Brian continued to serve the R.A.A.F. until his discharge upon cessation of hostilities.
He resumed his employment with the Income Tax Department in Melbourne and studied Accountancy before joining H. Miller and Associates and ultimately becoming the proprietor of that firm upon the retirement of Mr. Miller.
In or about 1956 I first engaged Brian as my accountant to handle my affairs as a teacher and as a
VFL footballer at the Collingwood Football Club and later as a lawyer. Our relationship lasted more than 50 years. Brian was the ultimate professional and his work was always immaculate.
In my 83 years I have never met a more admirable man than Brian John O’Shannassy. Ironically, Brian’s modesty was his most extraordinary virtue. About ten years ago he became so concerned about the adulation placed upon him by so many people like me that he wrote and published a small autobiography (The Life and Times of B.O’S.) in which he sought to disavow his achievements in sport, war service and professional practice. It was clearly the only venture of his life in which he had to fail. Such is the legacy of a truly great man. Vale Brian!