NOOSA – Murray Bladwell, one of the loveliest men I have known, and our relationship had been close for 56 years, died in Brisbane this morning after a short illness.
At this moment in the cycle of grief, when a close friend has died suddenly, the mind struggles to sort the terrible reality from the expectation that such a staunch and solid figure will always be around.
Murray was a man of little complaint and of big deeds. After a short career as a health inspector in Queanbeyan, NSW, he had gone to Papua New Guinea in 1963 to train as a school teacher on the Rabaul-based E-Course.
I met him in Goroka when we were both starting our teaching careers. We shared the same accommodation in Kundiawa when we taught there.
We began a little newsletter together which kicked off a blend of education and communication in both of our early careers and forged a friendship as strong as friendship can be.
Murray went on to a distinguished career as an educator. He gained his master’s degree in Canada after leaving PNG and rose to a senior position in the Queensland education department.
After early retirement he worked for some years as the Queensland branch manager of my PR firm, Jackson Wells Morris. In our lives, we were never far apart in mind or in spirit.
Murray was an organiser, a fixer and a builder - and he was benevolent with all of that.
It seemed there was little he could not achieve if someone was in need. He was a great friend of PNG and, along with the late Terry Shelley, a great mate of the Chimbu people.
He performed miracles for Rotary, for which organisation he was a stalwart, and wherever he went things would grow around him. Truly a man who left the world a better place than when he found it.
His wife Joan delivered the terrible news in a phone call a short time ago. Murray, 78, had been in hospital for two weeks, seemed to be on the mend, but wasn’t.
I am deeply sad for his immediate family, Joan and his children Anton and Krissa, his brother Peter and the grandchildren he loved so much.
And I am deeply sad for all of us – the many of us – who were pleased to be called his friends that this good man has left us. Left us just as quietly as he lived amongst us. Not worrying us about the process. Just getting on with it.
The deaths of our friends chip away at ourselves. These moments are the most awful ones.
I will bring you more information as it comes to hand.