Christmas Bells

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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tributes to Steve Wilson from his friends and colleagues


Hi Denis,

I am very sorry to hear about the passing of your Father, he was a great contributor to our knowledge of the birds of the ACT.

Please let me know who you would like to contact and I will see what I can do with providing details.


Chris Davey (President)


Denis, so sorry to hear this news. I first met Steve and Noni many years ago when I joined the Cactus and Succulent Society, and Steve was no longer active in COG when I joined comparatively recently. If you need contact details for any COG members I can supply them - as secretary and also responsible for memberships I have all that info, so let me know if there's anyone you need contacts for.
Sandra Henderson
COG Secretary


Vale Steve Wilson

A remarkable man and acute bird observer, and a pleasure to work with.

Muriel Brookfield (Muriel edited Dad’s book – “Two centuries of change”)


I second that comment by Muriel about Steve Wilson. I visited him often over the years after his book release and before and after mine and gained from his and Nonie's company, support and advice.

Philip Veerman


I’m so sorry to hear of Steve’s death, but in a way also relieved. When I last visited him, he seemed resigned to the fact he was still with us, but as always, proud to recount the number of grandchildren etc. I was sorry he never accepted my invitation to take him out in his wheelchair. While he always said he didn’t like the hassles involved, I suspected he had a few qualms about my wheelchair driving abilities!! Please let me know of any people you wish to advise as I may be able to help. Either email, or phone

Barbara Allen



It is with great sadness that I read your email this morning. I, along with many others, owe a huge debt to both Steve, and your late mother, for what I have managed to achieve in my life to date. He will be greatly missed by the ornithological community here in Canberra as well as other groups that he was associated with over the years. To you, your brothers, and all your families, I extent my deepest sympathies.

Best wishes at this difficult time,

Mark Clayton (Mark was one of Dad's team of young birders who went on to become a life-long professional ornithologist. Mark is a founding member of COG, as was Dad.)


Denis - Very sorry. Steve will be widely missed. When he was still a bit mobile it was great to run into him here and there, with his little notebook in his hand.

Barbara Allan and Chris Davey will probably be most help with contacts. Will copy to them.

Geoffrey Dabb


Hello Denis

I was sorry to read of the death of your father. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

Charmian Lawson


Dear Denis

Please accept my sympathy for your father's passing away. While I only met him a few times, he was defnitely one of nature's gentlemen.

Martin Butterfield



I was saddened to read that your father had recently passed away. While I never knew your father personally, I am sure that I am like many others who could say that anyone with an interest in Canberra birds ‘knew’ Steve Wilson.

Having recently completed the task of digitalising the Canberra Birds Notes, I feel I got to know him through the many volumes that he edited and the many articles that he wrote. Obviously all of us modern birders can thank for Steve for making his knowledge of Canberra birds available through his book ‘Birds of the ACT’. It is a book that I constantly refer to and now I will treasure my signed copy even more.

May he rest in peace.

Best regards
Alastair Smith


I had a lengthy chat, and reminiscence about Dad with David Purchase.

Unfortunately I have not been able ot make contact with Barry Baker, (another of the "team of Youngsters", who is in Tasmania, with the Antarctic Division, these days, working on Albatross studies. Messages have been sent to him via friends, etc.


(Children of Claude and Isobel Crowe, late of Berrima Bridge Nursery. Mrs Crowe died in April this year, and I attended her funeral, and wrote an Obituary for her in the local Magazine.)

Dear Denis,

My sympathies to you on the passing of your father. I very much enjoyed reading his obituary in the Canberra Times today. What a busy, interesting and varied life he led.

I remember visiting your parents at their home with my mother, Isobel Crowe, we had our first child (Ben, now thirty) with us, he was only a baby! How time flies. I know that Mum always appreciated your fathers’ interests in common with her. He sat patiently listening to her tapes of birdcalls and helped identify them for her on that occasion.

I have just finished giving all Mum’s ornithological magazines, newsletters and nest collection to COG for their use. There were many mentions and articles written by your father, Mum had the very first COG newsletters in her collection!

All the best, your support to us was very much appreciated in April. We return the honour to you and your family. Our thoughts are with at this time.

Many thanks

Merrie Pepper (nee Crowe)


Dear Denis

Jennifer & myself and our family particularly offer to you and your family our deepest and most sincere condolences for the loss of your dear father.

May both he and your mother meet our parents once again and exchange greetings, as old friends do, in the higher world.

We are thinking of you at this difficult time with thoughts of support and to help give you strength to reflect on the full life of your dear dad - as we recall the life also of our recent loss in our dear Mum.

Please stay in touch - we regard you as one of our dear family friends

Noel Crowe and the Crowe family


Dear Kevin and Margaret, Brian and Carmel, Brendan and Elizabeth and Denis,

It was with immense sadness that I learned of your father’s passing today. I first meet your father/father-in-law more than 40 years ago at a meeting of the Canberra Philatelic Society. After several months I found out that he shared my interest in cacti. Even though he had put his interest in these plants on the back-burner when he left Melbourne and moved to Canberra, I eventually convinced him to join the Cactus and Succulent Society of the ACT. His rekindled interest in cacti and succulents is now history. We shared our interest in both stamps and succulent with considerable passion until I moved to the Philippines in 1978. After that time we kept in contact by mail. Following my return to Australia in 1995 I settled in Sydney and so we saw each other only on my very infrequent trips to the ACT.

Steve (and one never thinks of Steve without thinking of his lifelong companion, Nonie) had a profound influence on me during my entire life; and, I dare say, on the majority of people who had the privilege of knowing him. I cannot think of anyone who I held in higher regard in my lifetime or who I admired more than Steve. His generosity of spirit, strength of conviction and steadfast adherence to fairness and common sense in everything he did were a wonderful template for anyone to live by. A template I have but only very imperfectly try to follow.

Steve’s love and devotion to his family, (and boy what a family you, your children and your grandchildren are), were put only above his devotion to his fellow man and his church. The goodness that Steve personified in his life, which he lived so vigorously and with such conviction, will certainly not be” interred with his bones”, it will live on with pride in his family his friends, indeed in every person who was ever touched by this paradigm of a man.

I will miss Steve, and Nonie, more than you will ever know and I share the intense pain of your loss. My one consolation is that you will all know that he is now among the most revered of all the angels in Heaven.

God bless you all,

Ian Hay


Subject: With sympathy

Dear Kevin and Margaret, Brian and Carmel, Brendan and Elizabeth, Denis and all your family
As a member of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the ACT and now its vice president, I am writing to express my sincere sympathy, and that of my husband Don, on the loss of your father, grandfather and great grandfather, Steve. I regret that I don't have a street address to write to you properly. I also apologise that I won't be able to attend the Requiem Mass for him this Thursday, as I have another engagement at that same time.
Although being a member of the CSSACT only since 1999, I had known Steve to have a splendid collection of cacti and succulents and to be a mentor to younger members of the Society. Others in the Society have told me that he was also an ornithological expert, had undertaken field trips and written about birds. I knew too that he ran amazing plant stalls at his church and school's annual fetes and that he was active with National Parks and Wildlife. Your late mother, Nonie, had also been very pleasant to me at the earliest CSSACT Christmas parties I attended. I believe your parents had - impressively - celebrated at least their 66th wedding anniversary. I visited them once at Amity in Aranda, shortly before Nonie died.
When your father turned 90 in 2002, I made sure your parents were attending the closest CSSACT meeting, still in the planthouse of the (now late) George Davidson. I had made Steve a cactus birthday cake. Please accept this photo of your parents on that occasion.
Be proud of your father and his many achievements. You have much cause to celebrate his life.
With warm symapthy to all of you
Yours sincerely
Jenny Rowland
Vice President
Cactus and Succulents Society of the ACT

Melba ACT 2615

Subject: Fw: Steve Wilson at 90

Not sure if you have this email and photo from Jenny Rowland. Note the cake is in the shape etc of a cactus.
Regards, thoughts and prayers to you all particularly Bren and Denis of course...
Jim O'Connor

Subject: Steve Wilson at 90

Dear friends
This is a photo I took of Steve and Nonie at the CSSACT meeting in June 2002, with the cactus cake I made for Steve's 90th birthday.

Love the Cactus Cake for Dad's 90th Birthday.
Thanks to Jenny Rowland and Jim O'Connor


tilcheff said...

I'm so sorry to read the news of the death of your father, Denis! Please accept my sincere condolences.

Tony Stokes said...

Hello Denis,

I was soo sorry to belatedly hear of your outstanding Dad's passing. As you know I was one of the young banders he mentored into a hopefully worthwhile bird & nature conservation career. I've been in Townsville now for 20 years but retired for 5 and travelling, so I am quite removed from the birdo world. Nonetheless, I remember Steve and Nonie with great affection for the caring and sharing that they bestowed on me so long ago. Best wishes to your brothers, their families and to bird world friends you might meet, especially Mark Clayton. Interestingly I found a photo of the 1965 St Eddie's class the other day and there in it are you and I. Only 45 years ago - seems like yesterday!. Best wishes Tony Stokes