Everyday Obituaries: Onya Pal – a tribute to Kelvin Reynolds

 

 

 

 

“How are you going pal?” A typical Kelvin Reynolds greeting. Today is Kelvin’s 90th birthday. Sadly, my paternal grandfather passed on twelve years ago.

 

Kelvin Reynolds was born on the 26 July 1930 in Carlton. The oldest of four children. The family was hit by tragedy when, in 1937, Kelvin’s mother Winifred died. His father, Augustus James (Jim), struggling to look after four young children, enlisted in the army at the beginning of World War II, serving in New Guinea. Kelvin and his siblings, brothers Ron and Eddie and sister Lorna, were sent to St Vincent’s Orphanage in South Melbourne. Kelvin  and Ronnie were then  sent to St Augustine’s in Geelong. Lorna was fostered out, Eddie to an infants’ lodge. He would not see Lorna for another 52 years. Lorna found her papers after her parents had passed away, and through the Salvation Army,they were able to make contact. An emotional reunion took place when I was young, a wonderful time for Kelvin, and a great family day at his house. Jim returned from the war, remarried and had two more children, Christine and Noel.

 

Kelvin left the boys home in 1947. He didn’t speak much about life at St Augustine’s. Father Bronson was his favourite, he was supportive of the boys there. Life at St Augustine’s was brutal at times, some stories passed down are awful. Having 359 brothers going through the same thing was important to Kelvin. In later years, he very much enjoyed going to the reunions.

 

He commenced employment around the Freshwater Creek/Modewarre areas as a herd tester, before finding a similar role at the Colac Dairying Company. He then worked for the Victorian Railways for a few years, until starting at the PMG, now known as Australia Post. He worked there for more than 30 years until his retirement, as a postie, mail-sorter and in the telephone exchange. It’s as a postie he is best remembered, whistling as he delivered the mail on foot. At the end of his career he was delivering parcels with the van. I accompanied him on a few of these trips during my school holidays.There was no shortage of cups of tea and cake on offer in a typical day.

 

Kelvin married Margaret Child in 1955, my father Russell arriving just a few months later! Lynda, Anthony and Dean completed the family. Kelvin retired from work in 1991, making his first trip to the UK to see his brother Ronnie, whom he hadn’t seen in 32 years. Very sadly, Ronnie passed away suddenly before they left for the trip. Kelvin’s other brother Eddie was killed in a mining accident in Queensland. Despite Ronnie’s passing, Kelvin loved meeting his relatives in the UK; that trip was a wonderful experience for him.

 

 

Kelvin at St Augustine’s

 

 

Sport played a massive part in Kelvin’s life. His football career deserves an article of its own, but to make it brief, after playing football at St Augustine’s, Kelvin commenced his senior career with the Deans Marsh Football Club. He then went on to play in a premiership for Winchelsea, before joining Colac. In 1952 he played in Colac’s reserves premiership team, the next week, due to a draw in the seniors finals, he became a part of Colac’s senior Hampden League premiership team. He then joined the South Colac Football Club as captain-coach and this is where his football legacy is strongest. Kelvin led South Colac to the 1955 Colac & District premiership, won the best & fairest in 1962, served the club as president for six years, secretary for two, as well as stints as treasurer and junior coach. Kelvin was awarded life membership of the South Colac Football Club. His final involvement was coaching the Beeac Football Club Under 16s, a team that included future Geelong and Brisbane player David Cameron.

 

Kelvin played some A Grade cricket for the Colac Cricket Club as a medium pacer and lower order bat with a top score of 30. “Had to give it away pal, couldn’t see the bloody ball.” He also had a crack in the boxing ring, winning his first two fights before getting absolutely belted in his third bout. Wisely, there was was no going back a fourth time.

 

Kelvin was a passionate supporter of the Carlton Football Club. He attended several grand finals, even once sitting on the boundary line as a kid. He lived through a wonderful era of Navy Blue success. I well remember his enjoyment during the 1980s when Carlton and another institution he was passionate about, the Australian Labor Party, were absolutely flying. S.S. Kernahan and R.J.W. Hawke could do no wrong.

 

In the VFA he supported Coburg, I have fond memories of watching the 1988 and 1989 Coburg premierships on TV with Pop. Phil Cleary coached.

 

The story behind me being a rare non-Carlton supporting Reynolds is detailed HERE in one of my very early Almanac pieces. Kelvin remained a loyal supporter until the end, recorded every Blues game and would always watch a few times, win, lose or draw.

 

Kelvin loved birds. A massive cage at the back of his property was always filled with beautiful canaries. Chooks and pigeons were also a fixture. He also loved fishing, though he was not as successful with a rod and reel as he was on a football field. Musically, he enjoyed the likes of ‘Foster and Allen’, a VHS of one of their live performances always on high rotation.

 

 

Kelvin and a very young Luke Reynolds

 

 

I was honoured to give a speech at his funeral. My Uncle Tony spoke first on his life and work, followed by my Uncle Dean on his sporting career. I spoke from a grandchild’s perspective. These were my words:

 

Kelvin was affectionately known as ‘Pop’ or ‘Pa’ to his twelve grandchildren, who are myself, Kelly, Rachel, Jarrod, Tom, Steph and Jack Reynolds, Matilda and Jakoby Kenna and Nathan, Jeremy and James Alsop. All twelve of us have great memories of time spent with Kelvin, who always took great interest in what was happening in our sporting, schooling, work and personal lives. He was always light-hearted, up for a joke and very lenient on his grandchildren were any of us to misbehave.

 

His great love of sport has continued onto our generation, but I think he was ever so slightly disappointed that only four of his grandchildren took on barracking for his beloved Carlton. I am one of the non-conformists, following my father Russell, the football following black sheep of the Reynolds family, in barracking for Collingwood. As a very young boy, Pop made many valiant attempts to convert me into a Carlton supporter, but he finally accepted my decision and I will never forget during the week after Collingwood won the 1990 Grand Final a large package arrived with Pop’s flamboyant handwriting on it, containing days and days worth of newspaper clippings about the Grand Final from The Age, The Sun, the Melbourne Herald and the Sunday Press.

 

Other memories from Pop’s grandchildren include his love for his beautiful canaries, his shed, his hats and him having a kick of the footy or hit of cricket with us. Some of my cousins even remember Pop making the occasional shandy for them! One thing I will always remember when I think about Pop is his great love of radio and radios. There was at least one radio in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, loungeroom, pergola, shed and the car. Usually all on at the same time. There was also his little portable radio with the headphones – just in case he strayed too far from his other radios. This was evident when last year he came out to my place to watch a Collingwood v Carlton game. He wouldn’t talk during the breaks, he had his headphones on trying to get the latest Colac and South Colac scores.

 

 

Watching the big clash in 2007

 

His grandchildren remember him delivering parcels in the Australia Post van during school holidays. We remember the fishing trips. We remember his love for his dogs, the fox terrier Mini whom he been reunited with, while Dolly is very much missing her master. We remember Pop working in his garden, mowing his lawns and smoking out the neighbours with his brick BBQ and hosing down his driveway very regularly – don’t tell Barwon Water!

 

But most of all we remember him as a fantastic grandfather, a great mentor and an even better bloke. A great man to talk sport with, have a beer with and just be with. We already miss you very much. Thanks for the memories Pop. See ya Pal.”

 

Kelvin couldn’t quite hang on to see his first great-grandchild. Gavin Joseph Reynolds was born four weeks after Kelvin Joseph Reynolds departed us. He’d have enjoyed the multitude of great-children that have come along. Kelvin would have loved The Footy Almanac. I can imagine myself printing off the Carlton tales for him to read, and of giving him copies of the books I’ve been lucky enough to have my words printed in. He’d have loved even more that I found employment in a brewery. “That’s very palatable, Pal,” was usually his comment when I took around a new beer for him to try. He’d have enjoyed the Prickly Moses range.

 

 

An early beer introduction for the author as Peter Landy looks on.

 

 

I think about him a lot, and miss him very much. He led a good life, a full life and is very fondly remembered by all who knew him. I’m celebrating his birthday by doing two things he loved: watching the footy and having a beer.

 

Happy 90th birthday Pal.

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says

    Good on ya Luke. Did your Grandfather proud. Gee, you look like him. Hope you’re well.

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    The beer photo is sooo 70s. Iconic.I was in the Bool a few weeks back and saw Prickly Moses in a shop.

  3. Just lovely, Crackers.
    Sounds like he was some sort of bloke.
    I also picked up your resemblance to him straight away.

  4. Colleen Reynolds says

    Kelvin would be as proud as punch, Luke. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Beautiful, Crackers.

    Pretty sure Peter Landy is saying, “Reynolds, each of two.”

  6. Rulebook says

    Absolutely brilliant,Luke can really feel your love for your grandpa geez,Kelvin went thru a fair bit in his life !

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Starks & Smokie- stoked you guys see a resemblance. The beer photo would have been late 1979 or early 1980, yes such an image of the time.

    Colleen, a privilege to write about the great man. He deserves it.

    Gigs, that’s exactly what imagine P.Landy would have said!

    Thanks Rulebook, tough times around WWII and family tragedy, but you’d never know as a grandchild, he was always upbeat.

  8. Thank you for introducing us to your late grandfather. And happy birthday to Kelvin.

    I love how your passions reflect his: family, sport, beer! Maybe you’ll be a postie one day – a mate of mine has that very ambition: a postie on a bike in a small country town (although Kelvin preferred the walk).

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Cheers JTH. Kelvin would have absolutely loved the Almanac. I’m very much a clone of his. Not sure about being a postie though, but never say never!!

  10. Wonderful memories of wonderful bloke. I have always found that difficult childhoods either ennoble or embitter. Not much middle ground. Glad your Pa was one of the noble ones. Amazing how many kids were “orphaned” from poverty and family circumstances up to 40 years ago. Shows how much our social welfare and income support systems have progressed. A life well lived.

  11. Good stuff Luke, a ‘Pie’ supporter emanating from a’Blues’ family; now that’s something. His love of sport overall has certainly flowed through to you; the little apple didn’t fall that far from the tree.

    The old Carlton long neck, you don’t see them very often. Certainly 1979-80 makes sense. Lucky you’d have been too young to have any interest in the match. Kelvin would certainly have enjoyed the result, definitely the final stages.

    Carlton, Coburg, Colac he had a devotion to the sporting C’s.

    Vale Kelvin.

    Glen!

  12. Nice touch Luke. What a life he had! Tough, difficult, very sad, but also full of joy. You summed it up well.

    Cracking last photo.

  13. ELIZABETH fryers says

    Well Luke what can i say you have done Kelvin proud I have so many memories the trip to England with them had a great time,going up to Finley once driving onto rumbles strips Kelvin thought he had a plane on the roof of car. many many many more fun times,.he would talk to anyone.

    Thank you Luke
    A beautiful uncle .

  14. Gillian Coote says

    Lovely tribute Luke. Have to admit it brought a tear to my eye. Luckily I had the pleasure of knowing him. Love the photos.

  15. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    A ripping tribute Luke. I wish that I had met Kelvin after reading this.

  16. Jarrod_L says

    Wonderful stuff Luke, what a great man Kelvin must have been – as others have mentioned, the Carlton-Collingwood link just adds so much to the relationship.

  17. Always nice to read about our loved ones and their history. Thanks Luke,

  18. Enjoyed this Luke. Sticks Kernahan and Bob Hawke! Sticks a better mark but Hawkey the superior vocalist. A great profile and I’m sure Kelvin would’ve enjoyed your words on this site.

  19. Shane Reid says

    Thanks Luke, thanks for sharing such special memories.

  20. E.regnans says

    Brilliant.
    You’re a gem, L Reynolds. Brilliant.

  21. Keiran Croker says

    Thanks Luke. A lovely tribute to your Grandad. Hope all is well intentioned Colac region. Stay safe. Regards, Keiran.

  22. Luke Reynolds says

    PB- His nobleness was a great trait despite what he went through in his early years. I really don’t recall him being anything but upbeat and encouraging.

    Glen- don’t worry, he was always happy to chat about the 1979 & 1981 Grand Finals! That Carlton Draught logo on the longneck will always be an iconic image for me.

    Thanks Dips. Tough times early but plenty of good times, football and family were real high points of his life.

    Thank you Lizzie, he would talk to anyone and everyone. A wonderful trait!

    Shane- a privilege to share these memories on this wonderful website

    D Wilson- thank you brilliant man.

    Keiran- Colac on the brink, who knows where we will go. Hope you’re safe and well.

    Mickey- Sticks and Bob, imagine them celebrating a premiership/election win together!

    Thanks Jan!

    Jarrod- The Carlton-Collingwood link, in hindsight I still wonder how it could be let to happen!

    Thanks Swish. He loved those South Australians in the Carlton team, Kernahan, Bradley, Naley, Camporeale. But not in State of Origin.

    Thanks Gill. I’m really glad you got to know him.

  23. Peter Fuller says

    Wonderful tribute to a fine man, Luke. Thanks for posting. Your engrossing account had plenty of memories for me. I didn’t see Colac’s 1952 premiership but watched them regularly at the Western Oval and Central Reserve from the mid-fifties. The last match I played in the district, before my family relocated to Melbourne, was a semi-final at South Colac – Kelvin’s home away from home. No doubt, home resonated powerfully for a boy from the orphanage. It’s inspiring to learn how he triumphed over his unpromising early experiences and maintained a sunny view of the world.

  24. Rick Kane says

    Hi Luke

    I’ve been meaning to get to this piece for a week. Glad I did. What a tribute. Both this essay and your eulogy praise what I read as a very humble man. The apple not falling far from the tree indeed. And the ties that bind. Your Otway Stout is a keeper as I think I’ve mentioned before.

    Cheers

  25. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Peter. Next time you’re through Colac, be sure to check out the Central Reserve and the Western Oval, both have had significant upgrades to their playing surfaces and both have had lights installed.

    Thanks Rick. He was a very humble man. Otway Stout goes well!

  26. Daryl Schramm says

    I too delayed reading this until I had a quiet time without distractions. Supporting all of the above comments Luke. Thank you for posting.

  27. Luke Reynolds says

    Thanks Daryl. It was wonderful to pay tribute to him.

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