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Pelican : June 2009
Tribute John Patrick Darmody was born in Roma, Queensland, on 7 June 1928. As the son of a Queensland Rail Stationmaster, he spent his childhood moving around the state. His father died when Jack was only seven and, as the oldest boy in the family, Jack accepted the heavy responsibility of supporting his mother as she worked and cared for her young family. Jack completed his secondary education at St Columban’s Christian Brothers’ College in Brisbane. After graduation, he joined the Christian Brothers and moved to Sydney to begin his novitiate studies. He took his first vows as a Christian Brother in 1949 and took the religious name of ‘Br Bertram’. His final profession was in 1955. Br Darmody taught at schools in Perth (where he completed a science degree, majoring in psychology) and Melbourne before being sent to St Edmund’s College Canberra in 1962 as Deputy Headmaster. He was a strong teacher who made an immediate impact on the school and quickly gained the confidence of the senior boys. While ready to challenge them, he was also willing to listen to their problems and opinions. In 1965 the Headmaster, with a proposal substantially developed by Br Darmody, applied for one of the new Federal Government science grants. Senator Gorton approved a grant for the construction of a new science wing and the refurbishment of existing science laboratories into classrooms. At the end of 1965, Br Darmody was appointed as St Edmund’s fourth Headmaster. One of his first tasks was to supervise the building of the science wing. The final Leaving Certificate exam was held at the end of 1966 and, with the Wyndham Scheme now fully implemented, St Edmund’s had its first Sixth Form class in 1967. There was suddenly a pressing need for increased and updated facilities. With the science wing completed, Br Jack ‘Bertram’ Darmody, 1928~2009 Br Darmody was making plans to extend the western wing of the College to house a new library, classrooms, art room, geography room, staffrooms and offices. However, he was still not satisfied. In February 1969 work began on the assembly hall, a building that was to double as a gymnasium, with a large basement area that would provide for changerooms, a woodwork room, a technical drawing room, a garage and storage space. Building and curriculum changes were not the only major issues to arise during Br Darmody’s short time as Headmaster. The escalating cost of running a school was putting a severe strain on finances. This was relieved with the provision of the first per-capita grants in 1968. Marist College in Pearce opened in 1968 and there were concerns about Canberra’s ability to support two Catholic boys’ schools. These were challenging times in the wider society as well. In December 1969 Br Darmody resigned from the position of Headmaster and left the Congregation. In 1970 he taught briefly in Sydney before moving to Melbourne to work as a materials developing officer in the Australian Science Education Project. In 1971 he met and married Philippa Ridgway and they had two children, Kristine and Stephen. A grandson was born in 2007. Jack completed a masters degree and a PhD at Monash University in Melbourne. His primary interests were in psychology and science, with a special interest in the development of logical reasoning in children and adolescents. Dr Jack Darmody then became a lecturer in mathematics, psychology and family studies at Christ College, the Victorian Catholic Teachers’ College. He was a leading figure in the development of what is now the Australian Catholic University (ACU), where he was a principal lecturer and researcher for 30 years. Dr Darmody was instrumental in establishing the school of psychology with the ACU and Graduate Diploma courses in education, guidance and welfare. His colleagues at ACU describe him as a visionary, a good listener, a wise and trusted leader, a thorough researcher and a true gentleman. On retiring from lecturing and research, Jack worked for several years at the Catholic Welfare Bureau (now Centacare) where he worked with counsellors, established the employment assistance program ‘ACCESS’, and did work of pioneering significance with problem gamblers. After a short illness, Jack died peacefully, surrounded by his wife and family, on Sunday 11 January 2009. He will be sadly missed by his family and the many friends and colleagues he made throughout his life. He is particularly fondly remembered by all who knew him here at St Edmund’s. Michael Moloney Br Darmody teaching a Physics lesson in the new laboratories in the late 1960’s. St Edmund’s College Canberra 110 Canberra Ave Griffith ACT 2603 Ph: 02 6295 3598 Fax: 02 6295 1356 Web: www.stedmunds.act.edu.au A Catholic School in the Edmund Rice Tradition