Eulogy Frank Johnson


I feel honoured to have been asked to give this eulogy relating to the very early years of the Johnson family.

The first thing I want to say is that I was greatly privileged to have had Frank as my big brother. He earned and has always had a special place in my heart. My love and admiration of him has grown with the years.

When I arrived into the Johnson family we were living in Toowoomba and Frank already had a sister, Joyce, and a brother, Stan. So I was number four in the line-up.  After my arrival there were added two more brothers, Ralph, who is leading the service today and Athol, the youngest.

So Frank was the eldest of six children – five boys and one girl. He was a wonderful brother, always looking out for us from his earliest years. He really felt responsible for our safety and welfare. He was eleven years older than the youngest brother. The care and support he showed then did not lessen as we all grew older.

Our family’s first car was made up of spare parts, and assembled by Dad. To start the car it was Frank’s job to line us kids and Mum up into the “pushing position” and with Dad at the wheel the command to push was given. The chant about Johnson manpower would go up and finally the car would backfire and engulfed in smoke the car would chug into life and the family would give a united cheer. Yes – it always needed to be parked on a hill.

We all had our designated jobs to do. Frank’s was cleaning eight pairs of shoes on Saturday ready for church on Sunday. His other job was to milk the house cow. Frank tried his best but on more than one occasion he returned to the house with only a few drops of milk in the bucket – the cow had the last say by kicking the bucket over.

Dad was asked to establish a new branch of his work based in Sydney so we packed up and headed south. At one stage, to supplement our income and to keep us boys occupied, we owned a chicken farm at Lugarno, where we raised the chickens and sold the eggs. Because of his interest in all things medical, Frank was put in charge of the ”sick pen”. All the chooks with crook eyes, those that walked funny or who were otherwise unhealthy were placed under Frank’s care. His chook doctoring met with some success.

Frank did really well at school and entered Sydney Uni to start his medical degree. He studied hard and long. Sometimes us kids didn’t give him the consideration he needed for study. I remember him walking around repeating with great gusto “flamin’ kids -  flamin’ kids”

Frank took a real interest in my personal maturity. He together with his brother, Stan, very generously assisted me with my first shave. This was accomplished after I was hotly pursued around the neighborhood. Caught, tied up, lathered with foam and then the razor applied --- but only to one half of my face! – unforgettable!

As a boy in high school I was fascinated by his relationship with Eleanor. I have a vivid picture in my mind of Frank studying for exams with Eleanor just being there quietly reading or knitting, supporting him but not interrupting his study. I could see the love, consideration and devotion they shared. Theirs was the first wedding I had been to and even today I remember the magic of their fairytale wedding.

I give thanks for a brother who taught me so many good things. Amongst them he taught me to appreciate people and to make an effort to help where I could.

I’m a better man today through knowing Frank and having him as my “big brother”.