25 Apr 2019

WE REMEMBER SIR RUPERT MYERS 1921-2019 featured image

The Churchill Trust was saddened by the news of the death of Sir Rupert Myers, Patron of the Trust.


A lifetime member of the Trust since 1994 and its Patron since 2001, Sir Rupert contributed his energy and talents to its various aspects during his Directorship of the New South Wales Regional Committee from 1975 to 1984 and as Deputy National Chair from 1985 to 1992, as a Life Member of the Trust since 1994 and its Patron since 2000.

Educated at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University and the University of Melbourne, in 1948 Rupert Myers was one of the first two people to be awarded a PhD from an Australian university. In his teaching days Sir Rupert was an inspired lecturer, saying in a later interview, ‘My main belief about teaching is that ethics and the wider things in life are as important, if not more so, than the technicalities and the basic knowledge.’

Sir Rupert’s willingness to listen to what the students wanted was unusual at the time. ‘Students are fairly intense people,’ he said. ‘They work hard and have a lot of pressures on them. Creating moments of lightheartedness relieves that tension and to some extent helps them to get a balanced view of life.’

Playing a major role in founding the University of New South Wales in 1949 is only one of a staggering number of achievements in Sir Rupert’s productive and creative life. ‘It is not given to many men to found a university,’ he said. He said that in his 30 year career at the University there was hardly a day that he didn’t enjoy it and have fun. He used the same energy, creativity and generosity of spirit to contribute to the Churchill Trust.

In 1978 the Government appointed a committee of Sir Rupert and two others to report on the process and impact of technological change in Australia. As the 1970s progressed, an increasing number of people had become concerned about the potential effect of technological change on employment. Sir Rupert told The Australian, ‘we were anxious to have a report that everybody could read.’ He said that it was not prepared as a political doctrine – rather it was a report that any government could act upon. His beliefs about English expression recall the opinion of Churchill. Myers told an interviewer, ‘I like to see sentences presented simply and understandably and mean what they are intended to mean.’

Asked about his famous ability to master detail, to take charge of information in different areas Sir Rupert said, with characteristic succinctness, ‘it is a big help if you can filter out the fur and finish with the hide.’

After retiring from the University in 1981 he continued to play a vital role in a wide range of activities, including his involvement with the Churchill Trust. He also remained Chairman of the New South Wales State Pollution Control Commission (1971-89), became the director of several major Australian companies, such as IBM Australia and Energy Resources of Australia, and was President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering (1989-1994).

The list of Sir Rupert’s many awards include the Grimwade Prize from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute in 1947, the Florence Taylor Medal from the Australian Institute of Metals in 1965, the award of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1976, a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1981, Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1991 and the Centenary Medal received from the Australian Government in 2003.

In all his capacities at the Churchill Trust he brought his outstanding intellect, his humanity and the sense of humour and made major contributions in helping the Trust develop into the unique and highly respected organisation it is today.

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