My sister Mandie rang me at 5:30 pm on 18th October to tell me George was gravely ill and not expected to last the night. Amazingly I was able to get a flight to Brisbane at 7:00 pm arriving 8:30. But it was too late. George had died about the time I was boarding the plane in Sydney - from septic shock as a consequence of complications from his bone marrow condition that had led to leukemia that required chemotherapy, each of which affected his auto-immune system. In the end his body could not cope any more.
Kenneth George Roy was born to Maurie and May (Royes) Roy on 1 Ocober 1942 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, their second child. At the time his father was on military service at Gunnedah, New South Wales, and was given leave to return home for the birth. The photograph at right was sent by his mother May to Maurie by which time Maurie was posted to Northam, Western Australia. It shows May's mother holding George and the inscription on the back is reproduced above the photo.
I remember well our childhood at 102 Cairns Street, North Cairns. At one stage we shared a bed and if you take a look at the article on mum you will see a link to a recording by Bill Cosby on his experiences of sharing a bed with his brother. Believe me, some of this is so similar to George and me that it makes it all the more funnier! There is also a story there about fancy dress costumes I won't repeat here.
There were memorable holidays with various maternal cousins in Mareeba and with paternal cousins in Cairns and surrounding beaches, especially Tom - born just over two months before George. George and I went to school together at North Cairns. Our sister Marilyn was born in 1948. In 1950-51 our mother was not well and we moved in with our grandparents and Aunty Peg at West Cairns. We continued at Cairns North school for a period then moved to Edge Hill school in 1952. Mum had died in June 1951. Dad built a two bedroom extension with car port on the back of our grandparents' place.
But we were getting too much for grandma, who was in considerable pain, so George and Marilyn moved to Mareeba for (I think) about a year, and then all three of us went to boarding school at Charters Towers (May 1956). While we were at boarding school grandma died (Oct 1957). As part of his family research, George transcribed her diary of her last year.
In June 1957, Dad had married Rose Bogiatzis Thorburn, who had a son by her first marriage - Nick Thorburn born 1950 - who also joined us at Charters Towers. In the meantime Dad and Rose built a home at Bungalow in Cairns [see #4 in Roys in Cairns for address and photo] - though I think George would agree with me that it was probably never really "home" for us. We spent several school holidays there but it was not a place we had "lived in", for in 1959, at age 16, George went off to Wagga Wagga to train as a RAAF apprentice, and I went to university in Brisbane.
George served in the RAAF in Amberley near Ipswich QLD, Townsville QLD, Darwin NT, back to Townsville, back to Amberley, then Williamtown NSW and back to Amberley once more.
During his first posting to Townsville he met and married Ena Blount (June 1964). Their first child, Coral, was born in July 1965 in Darwin, followed by Margaret (May 1968 in Townsville) and Stephen (November 1969 in Ipswich). During the last posting, George and Ena built their home at nearby Rosewood.
George was active in Rosewood community. He was a member and office-bearer of the Apex service club and was given life membership in 1983. He produced an Information Guide for the Rosewood and District Business and Community.
When he retired from the RAAF (1984) he set up his own business - Roy's Refrigeration. He also served as greenkeeper for the Rosewood Golf Club. When he sold his business in 1993 he continued with the golf club appointment until health problems forced him to retire in 2002.
Celebrating George's 60th birthday
In retirement he continued his interest in researching the family tree, contacting and keeping in touch with family members world-wide. He also volunteered his services to the Queensland Times and Queensland Family History Society. In 2003, he and Ena traveled to the UK, Ireland and Europe to catch up with Ena's family and to research the Roy family connections.
eorge's class of 1956 from Thornburgh and Blackheath Colleges returned to Charters Towers every five years and formed a close-knit supportive community. George was a key player in keeping the network going in between the five year gatherings.
He had a close connection with his neighbours, often cooking up a batch of muffins and inviting them over to chew the fat. He introduced them not only to muffins but to McGuigan's wines and spent many a hot afternoon on the front verandah sampling same. Christmas breakfast was shared with Charlie and Elizabeth next door, and then dinner with his and sister Mandie's families.