Here is a summation of the last hours we spent with our esteemed colleague.
Old Boys Muster for Pal
The Kyneton Marist Brothers Old Boys Association [Old Boys] was formed in 1946 when Leo Francis Ramsdale had been at the school for the duration of world war two. When Leo joined the alumni is lost in the pages of history.
The young lad who joined the Commonwealth Bank in 1948 wrote some of the pages of the Old Boys history but on 15 June 2014 sadly departed from his mortal life. An infrequently used word ‘anthropol’ describes a senior member of a tribe who has influence or authority, and Leo certainly had plenty of that even up to his last weeks.
Not only did he influence the Old Boys but a myriad of other community organisations in Kyneton. The importance showed up he was nominated and awarded an Order of Australia Medal [OAM]in the General Division in 1990. This award was supported by various community acclamations all of which have been reported widely in the local media over the years.
The motto of the Old Boys is Servabo Fidem which is literally translated “I will keep the faith”. And keep the faith he did over his lifetime. It was not only religious faith that he kept but also faith in his fellow citizens and in particular the Old Boys. He even had faith in a football team now known as the Western Bulldogs which when he commenced his passionate support was Footscray.
These achievements were reinforced when Leo was committed to the grave on 20 June 2014. Not only did the current President and three committee members of the Old Boys be selected as pall bearers to support his sons Chris and Paul, but over forty past pupils of the Kyneton Marist Brothers formed a guard of honour.
The church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was filled to overflowing as the Mass of Thanksgiving was concelebrated by a plethora of Priests who supported Father Joe Rhys the Parish Priest. The graveside was surrounded by more people than sometimes attended the Western Oval in support of the Bulldogs.
Father Joe related to the congregation about when he arrived in Kyneton and was unpacking his car. He was approached by a man who exclaimed “welcome Pal………….there is a flat for sale over there that you should buy”. How are you going Pal was Leo’s greeting to all and sundry boomed out in his distinctive voice! He also had distinctive handwriting and put it to work sending condolence and other greeting cards to families of the Old Boys. Leading up to the Annual Reunion Leo would write as many as fifty invitations. Always an important item on the finance report was the cost of postage.
Leo dedicated many hours to the Old Boys and held the important position of Public Officer when the association was incorporated. He was a stickler for conformance with the Constitution and the various rules that apply to such associations. He had several years as Treasurer although accompanied by a lot of chiacking due to his 42 years in banking.
His son Chris related Leo’s last hours in the intensive care ward after his massive heart attack on Saturday 15 June. His beloved Bulldogs defeated the arch rival Collingwood. Leo was unconscious but the doctors advised to keep a conversation with him so the Bulldogs superior play was among the last words Pal would hear. Chris said ‘he gave his heart to the bulldogs’.
Leo’s life partner Violet wrote the history of St Mary’s Mission Kyneton entitled The Journey turns Full Circle on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary in 2002. V.I Ramsdale is shown as the writer. In the acknowledgment page V.I mentions her patient family which no doubt included not only ours, but her pal.
We often hear the phrase a man for all seasons! Pal was truly a man for all seasons and with his rusted on mate Jack Willmott braved even the worst of Kyneton’s weather to conduct community service.
Thursday the 19th was a day of eight Celsius in Kyneton and a fog that hung around for many hours. Someone had remarked that Leo would be up in Heaven organising things. Friday the day of the commemoration was nearly twice as warm and at the graveside the wind abated and the sun shone. Form you own conclusions!!
Written by Michael Halley