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John Fitzherbert dies in Melbourne

Ian H Morton

I am writing to let you know that former RAAF member, accountant and long term PNG Treasury official and PNGAA member, John Fitzherbert, died in Fashingham Nursing Home, Canterbury, Victoria on the morning of the 17 October. His son Wayne informed me that his Dad joined the PNG public service in 1948 and departed in 1974. I do not recollect meeting John in PNG although I may have done so when going to Treasury Konebobu in relation to patrol funds when I was based in Port Moresby with the Department of Public Health.

Late one afternoon in the early to mid 1990’s I walking alone a street not too far from my home when an older gentleman who was out walking his dog approached from the other direction. As he drew closer he evidently recognised me and addressed me by name. This was John and we stopped for a chat. John was a widower at this stage of his life and his son and his wife lived a suburb or two away. From time to time my brother or I or indeed at times the both of us would see John in local streets or shops and on occasions he would join us so the others at our home for any evening meal and we formed a good friendship.

As John got older his health deteriorated and eventually he had to be admitted to a nursing home. While it was not always possible, I tried to visit him on a weekly basis when it was possible and there were occasions when my brother would join me. On the 16th of October I finished work early in the afternoon and I called in to see John on my way home. At the time of my visit he was asleep. I saw a duty nurse and asked her if she would let him know of my visit. I was departing for a 1967-68 ASOPA CEO reunion (after 40 years) in Queensland the next morning so I also asked her to let John know that I would see him when I got back. She informed me that it was unlikely that John would still be alive when I got back. When I got home I phoned and left a message for Wayne to let him know that I had been to see him Dad and that I would be away.

He kindly wrote to my brother and me to let us know of his Dad’s death. I must apologise for being so slow in writing to let you know. I started a few drafts earlier but kept putting them aside. A number of members will be better informed of John’s PNG Public Service than me. I do however remember his mentioning Rabaul and Madang as well as Port Moresby and I take it that these were his postings or perhaps some of them.


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John Groenewegen

Congratulations on 'The Mail' 130 which was packed with meaty reading: great journalism from cover to cover. And I'm not having a rave just because I was honoured to share the front page photograph with yourself and Bob Cochrane (with whom I sat at the back of the lecture room at ASOPA for two years). Thanks

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