Vale - Pamela Yonge (Eddison, 1939)

Posted 7 June 2019 9:53am

It is with sadness we mark the passing of one of our dearest, and oldest, Grammarians. Pam died on 23 May 2019 aged 97.

Pam was born on 25 August 1921 and started at St Gabriel’s School in 1929, continuing through until 1939 where she emerged as a graduate of CCEGGS. In her last year at the School, she and a group of other senior girls attended a debutante evening at the school, an event initiated by Principal Una Mitchell. There were hopes that this would be the first of many annual debutante evenings, sadly this was the one and only.

The Eddison family lived in Cooma and then Queanbeyan before moving to Yamba, a soldier settlement in the Woden Valley. The house at Yamba was constructed in 1927 using the leftover materials from the building of St Gabriel’s school. There, Pam and her five siblings helped their parents in the running of the sheep and cattle farm, where they also grew oats and Lucerne, ran a small dairy and bred thoroughbred horses (a passion of Pam’s father Walter).

Often, Pam would ride her horse to school in her jodhpurs and change into her uniform once she had led her horse to the corral her father had built on the school grounds. On occasion when an unappealing class was about to begin, the horse would “escape” the corral and Pam would receive permission to spend the lesson located the horse.

Pam was a natural sportswoman and frequently represented the school in Hockey, Swimming and Tennis. In 1939 Pam was Kilburn House Captain and a school prefect. In 1938 and 1939 Pam was awarded the Senior Athletic Sports Cup. In 1939 Pam gained a bronze medal in Life Saving.

When the second World War started the three boys of the family Tom, Keith and Jack joined the military to serve overseas. Pam, her mother Marion, and sister Dorothy remained at the farm where they worked hard to ensure the continued operation of the dairy and other farming matters.

The women also found time to volunteer their skills in making clothing for wounded soldiers, raising funds for the Red Cross and assisting at the Lady Gowrie Services Hut in Kingston – which would later become the RSL.

Pam finished school in 1939 and joined the land army.

In 1941, Tom Eddison was reported killed in action after his airplane crashed over Holland. Keith was killed in 1943 in New Guinea and Jack was reported as missing in action after the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Pam and her family only found out Jack’s fate after the war had ended. He had died of pneumonia whilst a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp in June 1943

More hardship befell the Eddison family in 1952 when a major bushfire destroyed livestock and buildings on their farm Yamba. Soon afterwards Marion and husband Walter moved to a suburban home in Deakin where they lived until Walter’s death in 1966.

Pam remained a steadfast member of the Grammarians Association, attending numerous Founder’s Day celebrations and only last month, received an official badge marking 80 years since her graduation. Her nieces Wendy (Prance, 1957) and Penny were in attendance for the presentation.

Our memories of Pam will not fade – the Eddison family legacy at CGGS is extremely strong and we are honoured to have members of the family still engaged with the school. Her sister, Diana, was the first President of the Grammarians Association and only last year, her daughter Sue Sarantos (Hancock, 1964) accompanied Pam when she was interviewed by then Archivist, Amalta Sahay who captured precious memories for our files.

Pam has contributed a range of historical ephemera and photographs documenting events and happenings at the school over the last 85 years.

A celebration of Pam’s life was held at St John’s Anglican Church in Reid on 1 June 2019. Members of the CGGS community attended to pay their respects, including Kilburn House Captain, Bianca Barrass-Borzatti (Year 12).

Thank you to our Archivist, Clair Murray, for compiling this article in honour of Pam.

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