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Kevin Edward Englart (1925–2000)

by John Englart

Kevin Englart, 1994

Kevin Englart, 1994

It was 1951. With a handful of good references, Kevin Englart, who has died at Gosford Hospital at the age of 75, might have seemed to be an obvious choice for a teaching job with Queensland's state school system.

He had survived WWII, married, matriculated and completed two years of a university science degree before lack of cash forced him to look for work.

His application to become a teacher in Queensland in 1951 was supported by a vocational guidance report that said he had "the ability and the personality to make a success of this calling". A personal referee — no less a person than H. Coppock, officer-in-charge of the universities commission — said Englart was "conscientious and reliable and would develop into a good teacher".

But he was rejected. "With reference to your personal application for entry to the teaching profession," said the deputy director of education in a short letter dated January 7, 1952, "I have to inform you that you cannot be encouraged to hope for an appointment in this department." But why?

Englart's family think they know why. His father, Ted Englart, was a prominent Queensland communist and secretary of the Brisbane branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation in the 1940s. His children were blacklisted radicals. Every time an Englart applied for work, an employer would be contacted and advised not to employ the person.

Kevin Englart was not easily deterred; in 1952 he started his teaching career at the Church of England Grammar School at Wentworth Falls before studying two years full-time at Sydney Teachers College while juggling a young family and a milk run.

In 1955 he joined the NSW teaching service; he stayed for 30 years and taught at East Hills Boys' High, Canterbury Bankstown Technical College, Belmore Annexe, Granville Technical High, Birrong Boys' High, Casino High, Tweed River High, Northmead High, Meadowbank Technical College and Granville Technical College.

Even after he retired, Englart kept busy as a volunteer assisting students at North Lakes High.

In his retirement, he moved to Toukley on NSW's Central Coast with June, his wife of 51 years. They led an active sporting and social life. He was an honorary treasurer of the Toukley & District Cycle Club and the Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) Association — a war veterans' organisation — and an active member of Toukley Senior Citizens.

Kevin Edward Englart had started his working life as a message boy after completing primary school. In 1943 in the dark days of World War II he enlisted in the RAAF and saw service in New Guinea, the Pacific and the army of occupation in Japan, where he witnessed first-hand the aftermath of Hiroshima, He was discharged from the RAAF in 1948.

The contribution Englart made to society was considerable. He was a dedicated teacher of mathematics who passed on valuable skills to thousands of students. One of those students, David Howard, remembers meeting him at Tweed River High School: "At that stage I'm not too sure I was so wrapped in his approach — he seemed to have a thing about geometry and for some reason I failed to get the kicks out of it that he seemed to. None the less he must have had some success with me because I eventually became very good at the subject."

Howard also remember another side of Englart, whom he still calls Mr Englart: "I remember getting into a pretty serious fight. As I recall I broke his arm. Next day I had to front up to Mr Englart. Yes, expecting the cane, or worse, but despite the injuries I had caused he only made me write out my reasons for my actions/assault. As my opponent and I worked through the problem we found we could work it out, and later became very close friends."

Englart was a committed humanist, never afraid to argue for social justice and peace in society. He was also an active member of the NSW Teachers Federation.

He will be missed by his family, friends, and his many colleagues in the teaching profession but there will be no funeral. Englart left his body to the University of Newcastle Medical School. His family has asked that contributions in his memory be made to the charity he consistently supported — Stewart House Preventorium (PO Box 21, Harbord, NSW 2096; Phone 9938 3100), an organisation which assists disadvantaged children.

Englart is survived by June and two sons, Paul and John.

Original publication

Citation details

John Englart, 'Englart, Kevin Edward (1925–2000)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/englart-kevin-edward-33758/text42254, accessed 19 April 2024.

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