As the years advance and new experiences and friends enter our lives, there are some names that one never forgets, no matter what the passage of time. So it was on 17 July when the news broke that a number of people, including three Australians, had died during a bomb blast that morning at the Marriott Hotel, Jakarta. Having had a professional and military interest in such matters, I listened carefully as the news unfolded.
Within 24 hours detail emerged that one of those killed was a Garth McEvoy. Whilst the name is not rare, there’s no doubting that it’s uncommon and when the first photo was released, it was the smile and the personal carriage that were unmistakable; one of those cut down was our Garth McEvoy, a Ruse Class and ‘form’ mate from 1967 until 1970. What was even more poignant was that Garth and I had worked together in the same company (Thiess – a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings) for almost a year before the tragedy yet neither of us knew of the other’s existence.
Garth joined James Ruse in class 1C. I recall him playing soccer in that first year and if readers go to www.Jrunion.mooh.org there you’ll see photos of a 12 year old Garth sitting front row last on the viewer’s right next to the fair haired John Preston. Further into the same album of 1967 you’ll see Garth, sitting in the same position as an art monitor; only heaven and Garth know what that was all about. As I trawled through the pages, I see that Garth and I were together in 1969 in Class 3C (Garth front row second from the right) and together again in Class 4C (see attached photo). By Third Form it’s obvious we were confident enough to be goofing around and for those who can remember it was the Year of Miss Bretherton and the Mini Skirt.
Garth was born in Zambia and migrated to Sydney a few years before attending JRAHS. I think he left at the end of Fourth Form and it seems he moved to the Northern Territory not so long after his school years. There he joined the NT Police Force in the late 1970s before entering the world of probation and parole in the late 80s. This career transition is likely why Garth gained an interest and felt the need for formal qualifications in law and his motivation for gaining a law degree at Northern Territory University in 1995.
Garth worked for local law firm Minter Elison before working for Thiess in Brisbane and moving in Jakarta where he worked for Thiess Contractors Indonesia. During my time with Thiess I was Executive Manager Strategic Comms and Marketing at the global headquarters in Southbank, Brisbane. Garth was commercial manager Thiess Contractors (Indonesia) where he had a reputation as outgoing, personable and a tenacious deal maker. Our paths glanced but never crossed.
According to media accounts shortly after the tragedy: Garth enjoyed golf and was an active member of the Jakarta community. He was well known for his friendly and outgoing nature, endearing him to all staff. In a case of political correctness gone loony, the Thiess Sisterhood once put me under some heat for referring my old James Ruse class mates as “Good Blokes”. Now that one of them has gone, it’s hoped that those who feigned offence may have some sympathy for what I meant.
PC (Pete) Smith (1967-72)
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