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Loyal, trustworthy steward


Kevin Hannagan - Born: November 29 1935 | Died: February 2 2023

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Born in Gladstone, the fifth of six children to Andrew James and Eileen Mary Hannagan, Kevin always spoke fondly of coming from Caltowie where he was educated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

He joined the PMG at Gladstone at the age of 14 as a junior clerical officer.

After a stint on Kangaroo Island he was transferred to the Post Office in Port Augusta in 1953.

Not long after his appointment, the 16-year-old son of the postmaster at Tarcoola was killed near Port Augusta in a shooting accident while out rabbiting. The postal fraternity rallied and 18-year-old Kevin was instructed to meet the distraught family when they came into town on the train. He arranged meals and accommodation for them, then contacted the local funeral director and organised the funeral Mass and burial on the family’s behalf, a forerunner to his later career in the funeral industry.

His early years in the PMG included postings at Gouger Street, Rundle Street, the Mail Exchange and the Engineering Department.

While living at the Crown and Sceptre Hotel in King William Street in the early 60s he served as an altar server, sacristan and commentator at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.

During his years as a Radio and Television Licence inspector from 1965 to 1974, Kevin travelled extensively throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory, detecting unlicenced users and prosecuting offenders in court.

The places and people that Kevin met and remained friends with over these years stayed forever close to his heart.

Kevin met his future wife, Anne Shane, at the Canterbury Club for Catholic Singles. After the couple married at Tranmere in 1971, they moved to Hectorville parish where they had a significant presence. Paul and Claire arrived in 1975 and 1977 and so the cycle of raising a family in the Catholic education system started.

To help the family budget, Kevin turned to the funeral industry for casual work while continuing his 41-year career with the PMG and Telecom (now Telstra). For over 30 years he was a constant member of the team at Elliott Bros Funerals. He helped out, often at short notice, in numerous capacities – in the office, answering phones, doing clerical work, arranging funerals, driving the hearse, particularly for country funerals, attending to mortuary transfers, especially after hours.

Despite his parish commitments, he was seemingly always available, exceedingly prompt – even in the middle of the night – very efficient, meticulous in dress. He read the death notices before anyone else and regularly explained how many of the Catholic families were related.

In all his life activities Kevin was loyal, trustworthy, straightforward, uncomplicated and direct. Whether in the parish coordinating the Planned Giving Program, assisting on committees and the weekly collection, doing his bit for Vinnies for 64 years or for the Knights of the Southern Cross for 53 years, helping organise the Marian Procession for 33 years, or outside the parish working with the PMG or in the funeral industry, or as a casual security officer for the SA Jockey Club at the races, he engaged with all tasks willingly and with precision.

He was dedicated to and motivated by his Catholic faith, especially as it saw expression in the life of the Church, the clergy, religious sisters and parishioners.

Kevin did not wear his faith on his sleeve. He rarely talked about his personal faith and yet it clearly underpinned his understanding of the world and where he fitted into it.

Like all people, Kevin’s obvious strengths and virtues were mixed with the odd faults, foibles and failings. There were times when his very punctiliousness could be vexing and some of his colleagues found driving with Kevin behind the wheel could be a hair-raising experience. That and his loud and deliberate responses during Mass. He was up front about most issues and could sometimes come across as wanting to take control. Around the home he was fastidious – things were to be done correctly – there was a place for everything and everything should be in its place.

According to Anne, his old-fashioned ideas about domestic duties and responsibilities mellowed over the years, especially after the arrival of grandchildren.

Paul and Claire remembered their dad as always on time, always prepared. There was an itinerary for every outing, especially family holidays which included traversing the countryside of South Australia and Victoria to visit relatives, the local Catholic church and usually the cemetery in every small country town.

“Dad will be remembered by most people here for his service to the parish, his service to his employers, his service to the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of the Southern Cross,” Claire said.

“He would do anything asked of him and many, many things that nobody ever asked. He did them because they needed to be done. He did them with integrity, without judgement and without expectation of any kind of acknowledgement. In fact, Dad was not at all comfortable with public recognition of his service to the community but today we take pride in sharing how dedicated he was to these organisations.”

Kevin showed his love through acts of service at home too. Often it was as a taxi service – ferrying the children to sport or friend’s houses. As they got older, Kevin’s taxi service operated 24/7, often picking up a child in the wee hours of the morning from parties or pubs.

After his grandchildren Alex, JJ and Lara came along there was “less business, more Grandpa”, said Claire.

“The grandkids will remember Grandpa being excited to pick them up from school and take them for a walk along the Linear Park with Cassie, his favourite dog. They’ll remember him taking the time to show them photos and sharing the family history with them. They’ll also remember him telling everyone to be quiet so he could watch the 6 o’clock news only to be asleep in his chair by 6.05pm!”

Kevin was buried at Enfield Memorial Park on March 10 after a funeral Mass celebrated at his beloved Church of the Annunciation, Hectorville, by Fr Leon Czechowicz and seven other priests, all of whom had worked with Kevin at some stage of their priestly ministry.

The church was full. The funeral staff donned high-vis vests to stop the traffic as the hearse pulled away. Kevin would have been very pleased.

Repeating the final three words he wrote in his instructions for his death notice (along with lengthy details for his funeral): REQUIESCAT IN PACE.

Taken from the eulogy delivered by Tony Elliott.

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