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Lucre, Charles William (1924–2011)

by Ian Stewart

Charles Lucre, n.d.

Charles Lucre, n.d.

photo supplied by Elaine Lucre

Charles William Harold Lucre, was born into a Presbyterian family in Campsie, New South Wales, on 16 March 1924. Charles left school to seek work before joining the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in May 1942. He qualified as a clerk and served for 18 months in Albury before being posted to the Northern Territory. In November 1944 he joined 452 Squadron. The Squadron was equipped with Spitfires and employed in a ground attack role against targets in the Dutch East Indies. 452 Squadron deployed in January 1945 to the island of Morotai which the Allies needed as a base to support the liberation of the Philippines later that year. Charles stayed in Morotai until October 1945 when he returned to Sydney and was discharged on 30 May 1946.

His service with the RAAF meant a lot to Charles and he maintained a lifelong association with his RAAF friends as a member of both the RAAF Association and Spitfire Association. He travelled frequently to Sydney for meetings of both Associations and regularly attended reunions of the Spitfire Association in Darwin.

In 1951 Charles moved to Canberra where he worked in a number of departments including the Commonwealth Department of Health. In the 1960s and 1970s he was Secretary of the Defence Forces Medical Services Rationalization Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir William Refshauge (1961-1966) Director-General of the Department of Health, and Air Vice Marshall LR Trudinger (1967-1975):

These men and his work in the Department of Health stimulated Charles's lifelong interest in medical issues. The Very Reverend Hector Harrison, OBE, minister of the Presbyterian Church of St Andrew, Canberra from 1940 to 1978 also played a role in Charles' life. Charles joined the St Andrews congregation on arrival in Canberra and thought highly of Hector Harrison whose pastoral care of the St Andrews congregation was legendry.

In the 1970s Charles was present on most Sundays at the morning service at St Andrews where he would greet worshippers and escort them to a pew. He was unfailingly polite and always smiling. He and Rev. Hector Harrison were an effective recruiting team. Charles' courteous and friendly welcome more often than not was followed by a visit from Rev Harrison on Sunday afternoon after the first or second attendance at morning service by a new family.

Charles was ordained an Elder of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and inducted into the Session of the Church of St Andrew Canberra in 1976. His pastoral work with the Royal Canberra Hospital at Acton commenced about the same time. As an Elder of the congregation Charles had a responsibility for the pastoral care and spiritual welfare of parishioners in his Elder’s District. He faithfully discharged these duties until 1991 when he was granted leave of absence to pursue his pastoral work at Canberra Hospital.

Charles was a Freemason for 62 years joining Lodge Roseberry 645 in 1949 and was a member of Lodge St George 328, at the time of his death. He was also a member of Lodge Philosophy 915 in Canberra from 1958 to 1999. Charles joined the NSW Masonic Club in 1969 and was a member of the Board of Directors for three years from 2005. He served on the House, Supply & Staff Committee attending committee/board meetings in Sydney at least twice a month. He was also an active member of the NSW Masonic Veterans Association, Touring Group & Dine & Wine.

Another association of which he was an honoured member for more than 50 years was the Returned and Services League of Australia. The Woden Valley Sub Branch paid a singular tribute to Charles at his funeral by arranging to have four uniformed members of the RAAF Reserve carry his coffin into and out of St Andrews. During the service the President of the Sub Branch paid tribute to Charles as a man who gave comfort and succour to his fellow veterans in his role as a Chaplain at Canberra Hospital.

Notwithstanding his lack of formal education, Charles studied at the Australian National University as a mature age student and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988. His studies at the ANU led to his membership of University House and regular attendance at Wednesday dinners in the company of University staff, members and students. It was among the latter group in particular that Charles made enduring friendships. His wise counsel was appreciated by the students who came to regard Charles as one with whom confidences could be shared and respected.

He met his future wife Jean at St Andrews and they were married there in 1960. They set up home in Macgregor Street, Deakin, and had two sons, Andrew born in 1962 and Douglas in 1966. Tragedy struck the Lucre family when in 1993 Douglas, by this time married and divorced, died leaving a young daughter Amanda. Jean suffered a long illness before she died in 2007. Charles too died after a long and painful illness.

The Welfare Committee is the engine room of all Legacy Clubs having primary responsibility for the care of Legacy dependents, i.e., widows and children. Charles was Chairman of the Welfare Committee for three years from 1962 to 1965. In 1965 he was appointed to a senior position on the Board as an elected member. By this time Charles had two young children of his own and this probably influenced his decision to leave the care of Legacy widows and children to other Legatees while he gave attention to his own children and to Jean who was in poor health following the birth of Douglas.

Charles Lucre found his true calling as a member of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care Unit at Canberra Hospital where he was loved and respected by staff and patients. He was keen to learn more about medical issues and was made an honorary member of the Infectious Diseases Unit and the only life member of the ACT Wound Management Association. He was also a proud member of the Canberra Hospital Auxiliary. At the sitting of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory on 5 April 2011, Ms Katy Gallagher, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Health, paid tribute to Charles' contribution to the public health system. Ms Gallagher mentioned his tireless work for members of the community and how much she and everyone in the pastoral care area of the Canberra Hospital missed his presence.

Original publication

  • Echo (St Andrew's, Forrest, ACT), no 333, June, 2011

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ian Stewart, 'Lucre, Charles William (1924–2011)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/lucre-charles-william-14653/text25786, accessed 27 June 2017.

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