Des Reardon, a final year student of Parade’s Class of 1957 and a regular at the Old Paradians’ Association’s Monthly Luncheons at Melbourne’s RACV City Club, has passed away after a short illness.
Des, who would have celebrated his 80th birthday in mid-January, died on Monday (November 16) in Heidelberg’s Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.
So ended a life well-lived.
Des’s wife of 54 years Margaret this week paid tribute to her soulmate – “a fine man” whom she first met at the taxation office in Lonsdale Street where they were both employed.
“Des was an only child who grew up in Middle Park and attended the Carmelite boys school. For years he organized reunions of those in his classes there,” Margaret said.
“He was very loyal, very determined and had very definite ideas on things . . . he also had a great love for the South Melbourne Football Club because of where he grew up and he’s been a continuous Member of the Swans since 1948.”
On completing Year 10, Des crossed town to the ‘Old Bluestone Pile’ to complete two years matriculation. At 17 he took on a course in accountancy at night school in North Melbourne just as he joined the taxation office – and there he remained until the age of 55 when a heart attack forced an early retirement.
Des overcame that physical setback and pursued an active life to the full as a willing participant in squash, tennis and bowls - and for years he bowled at the Heidelberg Club where he also capably served as President and Treasurer.
“We were both very fortunate that we were able to do the things we wanted to do,” Margaret said.
“We both looked after our parents and when the opportunity arose we travelled. Des loved to travel and so did I. He'd decide where we’d go and I'd joined him.”
Through the course of their 55 years as Rosanna residents, Des and Margaret raised their two children Cathy and Greg, with Des an active parishioner at the nearby St Martin of Tours Church.
The years came and went, but, Des’s school friendships endured. At the RACV City Club, he broke bread with old mates like Vin Arthur, Peter Jackson, Pat McNamara and Paul Power at the Association luncheons.
“Des loved those luncheons, he loved to reconnect with those of his vintage and he loved Parade,” said Margaret, whose great uncles Ernest (1910), Carl (1912), Arthur (1920) and Norman (1923) were all Old Paradians.
“He kept his school photos and his old badges. He kept them all because the school meant a lot to him.”
Des was diagnosed with cancer in late July after being hospitalised with a broken collarbone. “He bent down to remove a weed from the garden and his collarbone just snapped,” Margaret said.
“Tests revealed a secondary cancer there, then they found it in Des’s oesophagus and lungs. It all happened very quickly, but the nurses and staff at Olivia Newton-John were terrific and they’ve since rung to offer their support.”
Des is survived by his beloved wife Margaret, children Cathy and Greg and four grandchildren Nick, Emily, Liam and Patrick.
His funeral at St Martin of Tours Rosanna is to be livestreamed from 11.00am next Thursday (November 26) via
“When you’re young you don’t know who you’re going to meet, but in meeting Des I was very lucky,” Margaret said.
“He was a wonderful husband and friend, and a good and kind man. He was a great product of Parade.”