Grand Chief chose home for resting place
Grand Chief of Papua New Guinea

Convenor of famed Pacific lunch dies at 85

Over 840 issues between 1931 and 2000, Pacific Islands Monthly became the ‘bible’ of the South Pacific. In the mid-1960s it also spawned a famous lunch that outlived the magazine and continues to this day. Ruth Burleigh contributed greatly to upholding this tradition


SYDNEY – Ruth Jedlin Burleigh (née Palling), who died on 19 February, was born in Sydney in 1935. Her father was a teacher (later principal ) at the Scots College Junior School and the family lived on campus.

Ruth trained and worked as nurse at the Children’s Hospital until she married Steve Jedlin, whose family operated stock feed mills in Sydney and later Fiji.

Sadly, Steve died very young in 1966 leaving Ruth with four young children and part ownership of the mill in Fiji. Ruth added trips to Fiji to her existing responsibilities as a mother and fundraiser for charities.

In 1980, Ruth was introduced to the long-standing Pacific Islands Monthly (PIM) lunch group by her friend John Burleigh, a regular attender who sold aircraft in the Pacific region.

Ruth and John eventually married in 1989.

The PIM lunch, attended by people from throughout Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands in Sydney at the time, had begun in the mid-1960s.

In conjunction with the PIM editorial team of Stuart Inder, Gus Smales, Malcolm Salmon and John Carter, Ruth soon became the organiser of the event, which in those days was held every Thursday at the Occidental Hotel near Wynyard Station.

Among many memorable lunches was the one when ABC Books launched the radio program, Taim Bilong Masta, about the Australian Involvement in Papua New Guinea produced by Tim Bowden and Daniel Connell.

The accompanying book written by Dr Hank Nelson was launched at the same event.

Ruth and John Burleigh steered the lunches through troubled times after PIM’s editor Malcolm Salmon died in 1986.

Again they were called upon to keep the tradition going when the future of the magazine became uncertain after News Corporation took over Pacific Publishing to gain ownership of the Fiji Times.

At Ruth’s funeral, people spoke of her tireless energy, her organisational ability and her generosity to people she had just met.

These were characteristics from which we all we benefitted at the PIM lunches held on her watch.

Today, more than 50 years after they were established, the PIM lunches continue on the first Friday of each month.

The next PIM lunch is on Friday 5 March at The Kirribilli Club in North Sydney under convenor Tony Gentile (


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Allan Porter

We remember Ruth for what she gave of her time to ensure the success of the PIM lunches.

And we thank Tony in continuing such a fine ongoing tradition.

Anthony Gentile

As the current Convenor of the PIM Lunch, I am proud to follow such distinguished contributors to Pacific Islands Monthly.

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