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Don Clarke, pharmacist & collector, dies at 81


Don Clarke DON CLARKE, former Rabaul pharmacist and President of the Rabaul Historical Society, has died in Brisbane at the age of 81.

Don arrived in Rabaul in 1952 and became a keen collector of historical memorabilia. Together with other interested people, Don formed the Rabaul Historical Society in the late fifties.

At his own expense, because the Society had no funds, he opened and restored Admiral Yamamoto’s bunker, and maintained and managed it for many years. Among other projects he restored the cemetery at Kuradui, containing some of Queen Emma's family graves.

Over a period of 20 years, Don gave his time and money freely to collect and restore items of historical interest. In 1982, when he left PNG, with his wife Margo, sons Warwick and Bruce and daughter Marina, Don handed the collection to the Kokopo Museum.

Today, the Rabaul Historical Society endeavours to keep interest in the history of Rabaul alive and the pays tribute to him for his interest, generosity and commitment to our town - now Volcano Town!

Margo Clarke recently made a generous donation to the Society which we will put towards fundraising for Rabaul's centennial to be held on Independence weekend in September this year and for the publication of Rev Neville Threlfall's manuscript History of Rabaul.

Avarmari na tur Naim piram.*

Clarke - Group
Photo [Anzac Day 2006 at PNG Volunteer Rifles reunion in Brisbane] (left to right): 1 – Gerry McGrade, ex owner Hamamas Hotel now of the Gold Coast. 2 - Ken McGowan of the prewar Rabaul McGowan family, a keen photographer with a great collection of Rabaul prewar photos. 3 - Don Clark, whose premises, situated at the top of Mango Avenue, were destroyed in the 1994 eruption. 4 -Peter Chow, son of Gabriel Chow Sing Yip, hardware merchant, a Rabaul accountant and PNGVR corporal. 5 - Charles Blake, sea captain and trader from a long time Rabaul family, now living on the Gold Coast. 6 – Unknown. 7 - Simon Hui, who ran a menswear store in Kamarere Street, wiped out by the eruption who lives on the Gold Coast. 8 - Ralph Seeto, worked as a butcher in the New Guinea Company and later for Telecom in Lae.

* Rest in Peace [Kuanua]


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John Irvine

I grew up in Rabaul and attended Court Street primary school finally leaving with my parents in 1974.
My father John Irvine ran Nonga Base Hospital from 1966-1974
I would welcome the opportunity to share photos of my happy times in Rabaul and I was devastated to see the damage created by the volcanic eruption.i would love to see it returned to its former status as the capital of New Britain.

John Brooksbank

I am writing an article about the Ralum Club for Paradise magazine and am looking for photos & anecdotes about the place. Thanks.

Chris Blake

I was looking at a photos on your website and saw what was to me an almost unrecognisable photo of Charles Blake.

My presumption is that it is Charles Arthur Blake whose father was a coastwatcher in World War II and an explorer in the Wau goldfields.

Charles and I were friends in Rabaul when he was a plantation owner and a ships captain.

Could you please pass on my email address to him to see if he would like to correspond.

I am now living in Bandung Indonesia.

[email protected]

Frank Earley

RIP indeed. Donald was my backdoor neighbour in Rabaul(1965-71), my wife's employer and brother on the square.

Condolences to Margo and family. Lovely to have known Don.

Barbara Short

I was very pleased to read that the Rabaul Historical Society is to raise funds to publish the Rev Neville Threlfall's manuscript, 'History of Rabaul'. I can strongly recommend this as a worthy effort.

I recently obtained a copy of this book and used it as a reference while writing my book, TUUM EST - The History of Keravat National High School and its Students 1947-1986.

My book has been greatly appreciated by the people of the Gazelle as it tells them a lot about their recent history and is a great help in their search for understanding their own family history.

The Rev Threlfall's book, 'From Mangroves to Frangipani - The Story of Rabaul', would be an even greater asset!

It is an amazing book with a phenomenal amount of detailed information on Rabaul from the 1700s to the 1980s. It also includes the 1994 eruptions.

The book will be greatly enjoyed by all the expatriates who "fell in love with the Gazelle" but more importantly, the book will be greatly appreciated by the indigenous people of the Gazelle and give them a better understanding of all the forces that have shaped their contacts with the rest of the world, especially over the last 200 years.

Threlfall, who spent 19 years in the New Guinea Islands region, has used old books, newspapers and magazines, government archives and private letters, papers and diaries, colonial records, mission papers, war histories and naval, military and air force files and talked to people of many races in three languages,in order to write this book. It will be a great asset for future generations of Papua New Guineans.

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