One of the district's most prolific local historians was Archie Victor Jack Parry who passed away in 1975, aged 65 years. His many and varied published contributions include a history of Bowral's first councillors and of early Moss Vale. Previous articles in this column have drawn on his Bowral Council material and future articles will present extracts from his Moss Vale history, published in 1944 as a series in the Southern Mail.
In February 1974 Jack (as he preferred to be known) became editor of the Southern Highland News (previously the Southern Mail). Almost two years later, on December 5, 1975, the Berrima District Post was the first to advise that, in the early morning of the day before, he had collapsed and died outside his home in Bowral.
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A Southern Highland News front page article on December 8 noted that "spontaneous tributes followed hard after the wave of regret which swept the district as news spread of the sudden and untimely death of AVJ Parry (65), editor of the News and former Town Clerk of Bowral". The paper quoted the Mayor of Bowral, Alderman David J Wood, as saying that Parry had always held the interests of the people of Bowral as his prime concern, both during his long service with council and in his period with the News, and that he would be best remembered in his capacity as the district's official historian. Jack Parry was also closely involved with the Bowral and District Hospital's development, having been treasurer for 22 years, and was a director and treasurer at the time of his death.
In a tribute to Parry (SHN, December 10,1975), prominent local newspaperman Hector S Lamond wrote that Jack was motivated in all he did by his great love for Bowral and the district, devoting many thousands of hours in researching its history. He also found time to serve the community in many other ways and, as a member of Bowral Council staff for many years, extended every courtesy to the press and would explain any knotty problem with a lucidity that all could understand. As a servant of the council and later as town clerk he treated both the aldermen and the public alike, always with courtesy and sometimes, when necessary, with a great deal of tact. He was a "good mixer" and equally at home with all.
An outline of AVJ Parry's life and accomplishments follows here, drawn from a biography written in 2007 by his daughter, Mrs Judith Briscoe.
Archie Victor Jack Parry was born on April 26, 1910 at North Sydney. His parents were Victor Parry and Annie Reeve, who married in January 1909 at Christ Church, Sydney. Both were teachers and moved to various schools over the years until settling in Mittagong prior to Annie's death in 1920 when Jack was 10. His father subsequently married Daisy Lee in 1922 from which three half siblings were born (Nancy, Barbara and Peter). His father went on to become a public school headmaster with his last known post being at Cullen Bullen, near Lithgow, NSW.
Jack stayed in Bowral to finish high school and in 1926, at age 16, was taken on by Bowral Municipal Council as a clerk. He worked through the system to become deputy town clerk in 1946 and town clerk in 1968 before retiring in August 1973. At the same time, he kept up his other key interests, especially writing and journalism. Jack wrote for many publications on a range of topics including local news, sport and history. He wrote for newspapers, radio and television and was first 'stringer' for WIN TV at Wollongong. Following his retirement in 1973 and before his appointment as News editor, Jack undertook an extensive trip overseas to Europe, UK, USA and New Zealand.
Besides writing, editing, journalism and his passion for history, Jack also had a great interest in poetry, photography, Freemasonry, gardening and lawn bowls, and had a particular love of music. During his childhood and early adolescence, he studied music and learned to play a number of different instruments including the piano, trumpet, tuba, trombone, cornet and accordion. He was a Bowral Association Band member for many years and in constant demand locally as a pianist. He wrote music and had a pop tune published and recorded in the 1930s ('I'm Just Looking for a Dream Girl') and had his own band, 'The Jazz Villains'.
- Berrima District Historical & Family History Society - compiled by PD Morton. Part 1 of a 2-part series. To be continued