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Vernon Gordon Petherick (1876–1945)

Vernon Petherick, Lafayette Studios, 1936

Vernon Petherick, Lafayette Studios, 1936

State Library of South Australia, b20503520

Residents of the South-East, especially those in the electorate district, learned with deep regret of the death of Mr. Vernon Gordon Petherick member for Victoria district in the House of Assembly, of which Narracoorte is the chief polling place, which occurred before noon on Tuesday last at the residence of his daughter (Mrs. Alker, of West Croydon, Adelaide). Mr. Petherick had not been in the best of health for some time, although that was not generally known to most of the people in the district, and a few weeks ago, before the opening Of Parliament, he went into hospital here to rest. When he came out of that institution to go to the opening of Parliament, he was still unwell, and on reaching the city he decided to lay up at his daughter's, residence, hoping that his condition would improve, and he would be restored to health and could enter on his duties at the present sitting of Parliament. It was found necessary, however, for him to apply for leave of absence for three weeks as his condition had deteriorated, and during the week the members of his family were called to his bedside and the news of his passing was received here during Tuesday morning, August 14th, towards noon. It is only about seven months (January 23rd last) that Mrs. Petherick, who was a great helpmate, and who had rendered fine service to the public and social life of the community, died suddenly, her passing being a great loss to the community, and it came as a severe blow to her husband and family. Mr. Petherick was 69 years of age.

The late Mr. and Mrs. Petherick came to Narracoorte in 1909, and shortly afterwards Mr. Petherick entered business as a newsagent and stationer which he carried on for a time and then disposed of it and followed agency and accountancy and like callings. During earlier years in Narracoorte's history, the Murray Bridge Engineering Company, who had entered into a contract with the Narracoorte District Council for supplying electric light for the town, disposed of the business and transferred the contract to Mrs. Petherick and her sons, and they carried it on, Mr Petherick taking over the management. Eventually the Corporation of Narracoorte acquired the business, after Mrs. Petherick and her sons had carried on the supply of electric lighting and power for twelve years. The Narracoorte Corporation are still carrying on the town supply.

Mr. Petherick had been always prominent in political matters, and was a member of the State House of Assembly for sixteen years, being a supporter of the Liberal Party. He was first elected to Parliament when the district of Victoria comprised the whole of the South-East, and his colleague was the late Mr. P. Reidy. He was defeated when Mr. Reidy was returned with Mr. J. Shepherd. The State was later divided into single electorates, when Mr. C. J. D. Smith, of Kingston, stood as an Independent he won the Victoria seat, but at the elections in 1942 Mr. Petherick was again elected to the seat at the following elections, at which Mr. Smith was not a candidate.

The late Mr. Petherick had been Government Whip for five years, and was Chairman of Committees from 1921 to 1924. He was first elected to Parliament in 1918 and was a member of the House of Assembly for 16 years. He was chairman of several commissions during his terms in Parliament, including the Afforestation Commission.

Daring the whole of his 36 years' residence in Narracoorte, the late Mr. Petherick had taken a prominent part in the public, social and community life of the people and the district. He was a member of the Narracoorte District Council, representing the town ward, and afterwards served in the Narracoorte Corporation and filled the position of Mayor. He was for a number of years Secretary to the Narracoorte Hospital, and when he gave up the position he was elected a member of the Board of Management. He was also Secretary of the Narracoorte P. and A. Society during the earlier years of his residence in Narracoorte, and afterwards was a member of the committee. He was associated with other public and patriotic bodies, including the Cheer-Up Society, of which he was President. As previously stated, he took an active interest in politics and was both President and Secretary of the Narracoorte Branch of the Liberal and Country League for a time. He was an active and esteemed member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church all through the years he resided in Narracoorte, and was member of the Session (Elder) and a regular attendant. The death of Mr. Petherick, it can be said, marks the passing of an outstanding public man from our people, one who was an esteemed, useful and capable resident, and one who has played his part well and whose public activities could fill some worthy pages in the history of our town and district, as well as the State.

The late Mr. Petherick is survived by four sons and two daughters, viz., W/0. Tom Humphrey (R.A.A.F.), W/O. Edward Gartley (R.A.A.F.), Ormond Murray, and F/O. Kingsley Boyd, Mrs. Alter (Dorothy Elise), West Croydon, S.A, and Miss Darbie Petherick (Norwood, S.A.). There are one son and two daughters deceased.

Mr. A. F. Giddings, of Narracoorte, carried out the mortuary arrangements and was assisted by Messrs. Bruce and Randall, undertakers, Adelaide. There was a service held at the funeral parlors of Bruce and Randall, Adelaide, prior to the remains being forwarded to Narracoorte. Sixteen members of parliament attended the service, including all the members of the Ministry, as well as many other friends of the deceased, and the Premier (Mr. Playford) delivered an appropriate address.

On reaching Narracoorte the remains of the deceased were conveyed from the Narracoorte Railway Station to St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, the pall-bearers being the sons of the deceased, Messrs. Humphrey, Gartley, Murray and Kingsley. Following a short service there, the remains were conveyed to the home of the late Mr. Petherick.

The funeral at Narracoorte took place on Friday afternoon last. Following a service held at the residence of the deceased, conducted by the Revs. J. H. Price and E. G. Petherick (a brother of the deceased), the cortege, which comprised a large and representative gathering of residents, proceeded to the cemetery, the hearse and coffin being covered with over 200 floral tributes, and at the graveside again the Rev. J.H. Price conducted the funeral service. The Minister of Works (the Hon. M. McIntosh and the Mayor of Narracoorte (Mr. R. McLachlan) paid tributes to the deceased on behalf of the State Parliament and the residents of Narracoorte at the graveside, and the Rev. E. G. Petherick committed the remains of his brother to the grave.

Party leaders in both Houses paid tributes to Mr. Petherick when Parliament met on Tuesday afternoon, August 14th, and business was adjourned for an hour as a mark of respect. In the Assembly the Premier (Mr. Playford) said that Mr. Petherick was one of the most sincere workers in Parliament, was fearless in what he said, and courageous in adversity.

All members would agree, the Premier said, that Mr. Petherick was a man who had done honour to the institution of Parliament. He had been liked by members from both sides of the House, and had represented his district with dignity.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Richards) expressed deep regret at the death of the member, whose services to the country were fully appreciated, he said. Their late colleague had held the respect and esteem of every section of the House, and at no time, inside or outside it, had be ever been personal or abusive. As Government Whip, he had been called upon to perform unwelcome duties, but he had never resorted to tactics which could have been questioned by the Opposition. The late member had been a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.

In the Legislative Council, the Chief Secretary (Mr. McEwin) said that Mr. Petherick had been held in high esteem by all members. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Condon) said that it would be a long time before Mr. Petherick's good work was forgotten.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Petherick, Vernon Gordon (1876–1945)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Vernon Petherick, Lafayette Studios, 1936

Vernon Petherick, Lafayette Studios, 1936

State Library of South Australia, b20503520

Life Summary [details]


20 April, 1876
Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


14 August, 1945 (aged 69)
Croydon, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism