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Kevin Leslie Myers (1935–?)

by Malcolm Brown

An entry in the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club centenary history refers to the inaugural Uncle Toby's surf club boat series race in 1993 when Kevin ''Bluey'' Myers was sweep for the Freshwater crew of Phil Seres, Grant Myers, Julian Delany and Mick Burk.

The boat was on a two-metre wave and ''looking good'' in the heavy Portsea waters when the North Cottesloe boat from Western Australia slewed behind them. It slammed into the Freshwater boat, knocking Myers over. Myers ended up on the North Cottesloe bow.

''In the chaos of runaway boats and oars, Myers clung to the West Australian boat as it careered to shore,'' according to Freshie, a book documenting the history of the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club.

''Using his surfing guile, he noted as the boat breached that the winning post was close. The much younger North Cottesloe bowman was up and running, but Myers simply stepped off his free ride and with a shorter dash touched first in a spectacular victory of brinkmanship."

Kevin Leslie Myers was born in Newtown on February 1, 1935, son of a Government Printing Office employee, Leslie Myers, and his wife, Joyce. That year, the family moved to the north shore.

He went to Harbord Primary and North Sydney Boys High School and in 1949, at the age of 14, joined the Freshwater club. In 1952, his last year of school, he gained his bronze medallion.

Myers completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter, qualified as a builder and became a qualified building surveyor.

In 1956, he married Myra Docherty and they settled in Beacon Hill, keeping him close to the ocean that he loved.

He joined the staff of Ku-ring-gai Council in the early 1960s and in 1966 and 1967 was captain of the Freshwater club.

During his career with the club, Myers won more than 24 national and NSW state medals, including four Australian gold medals and seven state championship golds.

Serving as the boat captain at Freshwater for 20 years, he won Australian championship gold in the under-18s surf boat category in 1977-78 (the sweeps can be any age but the rowers had to be under 18).

He was the club president again from 1969 until 1978 and in 1981 he became the president again for another three seasons.

In 1982-83, he won gold in the NSW state championships open boat event and went on to win numerous reserve grade boat championships. He was also selected for the NSW state team.

In 1984-85, Myers won another gold medal in the Australian championships. By then, he was head of the building department at Ku-ring-gai Council. But he was afflicted with bowel cancer and decided to retire. However, his illness did not stop his surf activities. In 1990, he won another Australian championships gold medal and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to surf lifesaving.

Myers's other passions included camping and gemstone fossicking.

He had a sapphire lease near Emerald, Queensland, and went there often during winter.

But there was little that could draw him away from the surf.

In 1998, aged 63, he won an Australian title in a masters event. He became an institution in the club, nurturing and encouraging crews that went on to win championships.

As a member of the club's ''House of Lords'', being the senior members, he referred to the younger brigade as his ''boys'' who went on to great things.

In 2000, Myers was awarded a medal for 50 years' membership of the Freshwater club and in 2005 he rowed with three legendary Australian rowers, Ken Bucknall, Kim Marsh and Chris Branson, to win the NSW state masters.

At Myers's memorial service in December, hundreds of lifesavers went to pay their respects.

Club stalwart John Swan, said: ''Young and old stood side-by-side in a crowd sprinkled with maroon blazers [club colours] as they crowded into a club adorned with so many great champions looking down on the final farewell to a man respected across the surf lifesaving and surf boat fraternity.''

Kevin Myers is survived by Myra, children Glenn, Grant, and Julie and nine grandchildren.

Original publication

Citation details

Malcolm Brown, 'Myers, Kevin Leslie (1935–?)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

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