Eulogy at funeral by John Bottoms

ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL. PORT MORESBY. 27 AUGUST 2004.

LADIES and Gentlemen, girls and boys. Before I start, can I apologise to you in advance if I become a trifle emotional at any time and ask you to excuse me. My name is John Bottoms, and I am Peter’s friend from Cairns where I run a law firm and he has entrusted to me the job of being executor of his Will.

I first met Peter some five years ago when I came to Port Moresby to visit my very good friend Greg Hull (who I went to school with in Australia some forty years ago). Some of you may remember Greg as he was the Senior Trade Commissioner at the Aussie High Commission and has only recently left on a posting to Baghdad.

Peter and I just got on. Perhaps it was because we were a similar age. Perhaps it was because we had similar experiences in life. Perhaps it was because we both had businesses of about the same size.

But whatever it was, we enormously enjoyed each other’s company. He would regularly come and stay with me when in Cairns and would often come and spend Christmas dinner with myself and my family. Indeed when in my capacity as executor I went through his things – I found my house key.

After he bought a unit in Cairns, he would stay there, but at any event whenever he came down, we would spend a lot of time together, and I would usually pick him up from the airport when he arrived.

I can still hear his regular greeting, “Botty, my boy, how are you” as he advanced towards me with his usual friendly smile, and always a gift of some sort which he had picked and which he thought I might like. I’m not sure what he thought about my drinking habits – once he gave me three breathalyzers.

He was a very generous man and he had also a very quirky sense of humour. I thought I would share with you a little story about last Christmas which he spent with myself, my family and my aged mother at Lake Tinaroo behind Cairns.

As usual Peter turned up with all sorts of gifts, but probably the most special gifts were some bottles of wine, for which he had designed the labels and printed them. Nothing illustrates Peter’s sense of humour better than the labels he had put on the wine. I should say that for some time Peter and I had been comparing tummies and making jokes about whose tummy was the biggest.

My bottle was entitled “Bottoms Run”. The label read as follows:

“A traditional vintage which (some say) matures well, but should be kept bottled for as long as possible. It grows in the vineyard’s bottom paddock. “Bottoms Run” shows a fullness of body with very little spruiking on the palette. Produced by traditional PNG methods at our Hohola vineyards.

To avoid dependence or over consumption, it should be partaken quickly and not too often.”

The bottle he brought my blonde partner Sue was entitled “Sue’s Folly”. Sue has been known to express an opinion on occasion and had only recently moved in with me. Her label read:

“A sincere little white, beautifully rounded and with a rose attitude. Ideal for any occasion this vintage has appeal for all who desire a good nose and plenty of tongue.

“Sue’s Folly” has proved so popular over the last year that during 2003 it has required more growing space and has taken over some of the area previously allocated to Bottoms Run.”

Peter loved Papua New Guinea, and he loved Papua New Guinea people, and he particularly cared about little children.

Although it is a funeral, and at funerals we tend to think that things come to an end, Peter had thought for the future and wanted to look to the future and help young children in Papua New Guinea get an education.

After making provision for his children, Peter provided the following in his Will:

“As to the rest and residue of my estate, I leave to allow my executors to establish ‘The O’Connor Foundation’ (of which they may be the trustees if in their absolute discretion they deem it appropriate) in order to provide scholarships for the education of needy children resident in rural areas of Papua New Guinea and the settlement camps surrounding Port Moresby. It is intended that the PNG trustee advisors should include the following PNG residents, Jerry Singirok MBE, Sir Ebia Olewale and Mr David Com.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my job as Peter’s executor and trusted friend to make sure his wishes for The Peter O’Connor Foundation are carried out. It is also my job to administer his estate according to law.

Peter lived in Papua New Guinea – he had a good living here – and he wanted to give something back to you – his community – by helping children less fortunate.

Education is power. He wanted to make sure if he could through his Foundation, that young children whose parents could not afford to educate them, still got a start in life.

Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, can I thank you all for coming – I am totally sure that Peter would have been delighted to see this turnout.

I am sure his three children who are with us today – Clare, Glenn and Brett – are as impressed as I am by the respect which you are showing Peter by your presence here today.

I would now like to call on Peter’s son Glenn who would like to address you all.

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