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Beyond the call of duty

Obituaries

Brian McLennan - Born: June 22 1931 | Died: June 7 2019

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Brian, the son of William John and Mary Marjorie McLennan, grew up in Clarence Gardens with his younger brother Kevin. The boys attended Cabra College for the first three years of primary school and completed their education at Sacred Heart College.

Kevin later entered the priesthood and was a Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Adelaide and parish priest of Goodwood before his death in 2001.

Brian was married to Barbara and they had three children, Louisa, Christopher (deceased) and Mark.

Brian worked as an accountant for T O’Connor and Sons at Gepps Cross for 32 years. His employer Henry O’Connor described Brian as capable, honest, diligent and thoroughly reliable. The two men were also friends for more than 60 years and Henry remembers him as loyal, gentle and very caring.

Even after Brian stopped working Henry would always ring him on his birthday for a chat.

Brian would be pleased that at his funeral, held on what would have been his 88th birthday, Henry graciously agreed to be a pall bearer and read the Liturgy of the Word.

After finishing at O’Connor and Sons, Brian went to work for his brother who at the time was the Chancellor of the Adelaide Archdiocese.

During this period in the early seventies Fr Kevin restructured the Catholic Church Endowment Society (CCES) and established the Archdiocesan Development Fund. He also turned his attention to the remuneration and benefits for the Diocesan clergy, some of whom were inadequately sustained through the dated system of allocating funds received through parish collections. Thus the Diocesan Presbytery Fund came into existence to restore equity to the remuneration of the clergy.

Brian’s six-year involvement with the Archdiocese went beyond being an employee; he and Barbara spent many weekends planting trees and shrubs in the carpark beneath the new Diocesan Centre in Wakefield Street and Brian undertook many unpaid hours of work at home helping Fr Kevin balance the books.

Fr Kevin was a strong and constant presence in Brian’s life, and that of his family. McLennan holidays always included the priest, who would swap parishes during school holidays so he could go to Kangaroo Island. Each day the family went to Mass and the children were altar servers.

Brian would do anything for his children, spending hours taking the boys to Bonython Park to sail their boats or drive them to footy training or handball games.

When Louisa got her first job as a social worker in Ceduna there was no air-conditioning in the houses or cars. Brian used his holidays to drive there, taking a sewing machine to make curtains and to try and find ways to make the house cooler. Nothing was too much trouble for him.

When Brian stopped paid work Barbara insisted that he have something to occupy his time and in 1998 he started volunteering as a driver with Red Cross four days a week, continuing until 2014.

Brian went over and above in his care of Red Cross passengers. He was supposed to just collect and drop them off but he recounted that at times people just needed “an extra bit of help”. Sometimes he would put the kettle on for them or help them into their slippers.

Similarly, no task was too much for him in the care of Barbara before she lost her brave fight against pancreatic cancer a year ago.

Attendance at Mass was an important event throughout Brian’s life. He attended all of Fr Kevin’s Mass services and after his death enjoyed listening to the homilies of Mgr Aitken at Dulwich before shifting to The Monastery.

Last year Brian travelled with his daughter Louisa to Europe where they were to attend a concert in Prague on the anniversary of Barbara’s death.

However, they never got to Prague as on the fifth night of their river cruise Brian became very ill with pneumonia and spent six weeks in intensive care in a German hospital. Advised that he might die, a determination and steeliness arose in Brian who was adamant he wanted to return home to see his dogs, his cat and his house. The medical staff didn’t give up on him and with the extraordinary help and guidance of Dr Verity Cooper and Dr Wendy Parish back in Adelaide, a medical evacuation was organised.

He made it home and recovered, only to fall ill again earlier this year but even in his last days at Calvary Wakefield Hospital, he managed to make it to Mass in the hospital chapel.

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