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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

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Lloyd Gordon Churchward (1919–1998)

The following is the eulogy written by Mary Churchward and read by Matthew Churchward at Lloyd's funeral on 25 February 1998.

Lloyd Gordon Churchward was born 78 years ago, in the small town of Westbury, in northern Tasmania. His father, Spencer Churchward, was the Methodist minister there. Lloyd's mother, Caroline Gilbert Mather, and his father, both came from old Methodist families originating in Devon and Cornwall. Whenever Lloyd and Mary went to England, they visited the little Devon village of Stoke Gabriel, where generations of Churchwards are buried in the graveyard of the ancient parish church. They very much enjoyed staying at Gabriel Court, in the manor house overlooking the village. which was formerly the Churchward home. Lloyd was pleased that Marion was recently able to visit Stoke Gabriel, the first of his children to do so.

Lloyd's childhood was spent in a number of places in Tasmania and Victoria, where his father was Methodist minister — first in Westbury and Penguin, then in Avoca (where he started school), St Arnaud, Brighton and Carnegie. He had two elder brothers, Jack and Rex, and a much loved younger sister, Dorothy. From his parents he imbibed those solid Methodist values of honesty, humility, loyalty, and an ordered life of hard work and service to others, which remained with him even after he lost his faith in God.

Lloyd's secondary education was completed at Melbourne High School and he passed the final exams with high honours. During his university studies, he lived in Queen's College, and he returned there as a tutor later on, Throughout his life, he maintained his links with Queen's, and he was glad that both Alison and Matthew were able to live in Queen's during their university years.

Lloyd completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring 1n History, with brilliant results right through the course. It was at this time that his interest in politics developed, during the years of the fascist regime in Germany, the Spanish Civil War, and the outbreak of the Second World War. His opposition to fascism and his desire for social justice stemmed originally from his Christian ideals. His parents were rather shocked when he not only became very radical in politics, but also took up smoking, drinking and ballroom dancing!

When the War began, Lloyd was rejected for military service, because he was discovered to have diabetes. In 1940 he researched and wrote his M.A. thesis, and the following year he did his Dip. Ed. He was then appointed Senior History Master at Knox Grammar School in Sydney, where he spent three years. His interest in politics led him to join the State Labor Party of New South Wales, which in 1943 was affiliated with the Communist Party of Australia. So Lloyd became a Communist, and he remained in the Party until in recent years it fell into pieces around him and there was no more Communist Party to belong to! But he never lost his commitment to Marxism, and his hope for a better world where people could live in peace, free from oppression and exploitation. He aligned himself also with other progressive causes: opposition to racism, support for the rights of indigenous peoples and concern for the environment.

Lloyd was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Political Science at the University of Melbourne just before the end of the War, and he worked there for 40 years. Even after he was forced to retire at the beginning of 1981 because of failing eyesight, he continued to give guest lectures until quite recently. He was fortunate in having a job that he enjoyed and felt to be worthwhile. He never forgot the Melbourne High School motto, 'Honour the work'! He became quite notorious as one of those 'university reds' in the 1960s, but his colleagues and students who knew him respected him for his integrity and fairness, even when they did not share his views. At every stage of his life, he made and kept a great many good friends. He became a Senior Lecturer, then a Reader in Politics, and in 1981 was granted the higher degree of Doctor of Letters, in recognition of his writings on Soviet politics and Australian history.

Lloyd and Mary were married in 1958, and so their 40th wedding anniversary will occur in May this year but, sadly, Lloyd will not be with us to enjoy that special bottle of Mount Avoca wine put aside for the occasion. As most of you know, four children were born of this marriage — Alison, Dorothy, Matthew and Marton. Now the family has grown to include Peter, Yahyia and Lyndel, and Alison and Peter have three little girls, Ruth, Miriam and Judith. His children and grandchildren have given Lloyd a great deal of joy, and he has taken pride in their achievements. They have always turned to him for advice and comfort in times of trouble. Since Dorothy's wedding last year, there have been many other happy family occasions, and the whole family gathered around Lloyd's bedside as he lay dying.

Seven years ago Mary's mother Mavis came to live with her and Lloyd, and soon after that Mary retired from school teaching to care for Lloyd and her mother. So the three of them settled down into a small, quiet household (except when the grandchildren visit!). For many, many years Lloyd had battled not only diabetes and advancing blindness, but also other health problems, yet he had shown great courage and fortitude in surmounting these difficulties to lead an active and useful life. He enjoyed cooking and planning meals (and never minded washing the dishes!), and he delighted in the regular excursions to Warrandyte where they would walk beside the river and buy apples at an orchard and strawberries at a berry farm. Although Lloyd could no longer see, his other senses were highly developed, so that he could take pleasure in listening to music and to the sounds of the natural world around him; in savouring food and wine; and in handling his well-made kitchen utensils, as well as other familiar objects such as his comfortable slippers, his talking watch, and his radio and cassette player. His excellent memory enabled him recollect past events and people with great clarity — and he an Mary enjoyed looking back on their travels in Europe, America, the Pacific and various parts of Australia. Lloyd continued to take an interest in world affairs, through his radio, and he enjoyed discussing issues with his family and friends. His weekly visit to Alison, who read historical and political journals and books to him, meant a lot to Lloyd — they shared many interests, both being history graduates. Lloyd's passion for history affected the whole family — even Matthew, who trained as an engineer, now works in the field of history of technology.

Lloyd's death has come as a shock to us, although we knew that his heart might fail at any time. He himself was quite realistic about his chances of survival, even while he continued to make plans for the future. We are thankful that he reached the age of 78 years, in spite of all his health problems, and that until the very end of his life he remained physically active and mentally alert. He was very dear to all of us, and we know that many others outside his immediate family love and respect him too. It is hard for us to imagine life without him.

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Citation details

'Churchward, Lloyd Gordon (1919–1998)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


18 October, 1919
Westbury, Tasmania, Australia


20 February, 1998 (aged 78)
Victoria, Australia

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