13 Apr, 2018

At Yukana, we love to get to know our residents and listen to their life stories. This is a little piece of Bob’s story which we are honoured to share.

Bob was born in Bundaberg in 1927, the son of a baker and pastry cook. He was the third  of five boys which made his mother, a dressmaker, very much outnumbered.

Bob left school in 1942 after completing his junior education, and in 1943 he moved to Kelvin Grove to attend Teachers College. During this time Bob also attended night classes, determined to complete his Senior schooling. However, things didn’t quite go to plan. In 1944, while WWII was at its worst, many of the teachers were called to fight as pilots. Flying over Germany, they sadly lost their lives. As a consequence, Australia found itself with a shortage of qualified teachers, so at just 16½, Bob was called to fill the gap and was appointed as a teacher at Bundaberg Central Primary School teaching 57 year two students.

In May 1946, Bob moved to Cooladdi in western Queensland to take up the position of Head Teacher. He completed his Senior schooling via correspondence before being posted to Kooingal in 1947, where he began his University degree, also studying via correspondence.

By 1950 Bob was feeling a little burnt out and decided to take a break from teaching. He began working on a sheep property, and for 5 ½ years he put his hand to manual work, undertaking tasks such as fencing, building and shearing. In 1952, at the tender age of 25, he met the love of his life, Lil, who was 18. He also managed to finish his University qualification which came in very handy when the wool prices dropped and Bob needed to go back to his teaching.

Bob Spearritt

In May 1955, Bob and Lil married. By August of that year Bob was posted to Chinchilla State School where he was appointed as a Primary school teacher. After the first year of his posting, Bob was appointed to Secondary teaching. By the beginning of 1961 a Senior department was introduced, providing the opportunity for students to complete their Senior qualification.

During this time, Bob and Lil’s family began to grow. Their son, Doug, was born in 1956 and was soon followed by Neil, who was stillborn in 1958. Greg arrived in 1960, and their only daughter Judy, joined them in 1961.

At the end of 1961, Bob was reluctantly transferred to Brisbane to teach at Inala State High School. After teaching there throughout 1962, he was transferred to Kedron State High School to take up the position of Deputy Principal. With 1,500 students and 56 teachers, it was Bob’s first experience in a larger school.

Between 1966 to 1979, Bob took up positions as Principal at Longreach, Gatton and eventually Toowoomba. He was integral in the development of Longreach’s High School, which had grown to 170 students and 10 teachers before he left.

Bob finally retired from teaching in 1987, spending time travelling with Lil and their friends. They enjoyed discovering new and exciting locations within Australia and overseas, with several journeys across the Nullarbor as well as holidays to Tasmania, Cairo, Austria and England.

Bob and Lil eventually moved into an Independent Living Unit at Yukana in 2005, where they lived for the next 10 years. They enjoyed making lots of friends, sharing morning teas, BBQs and a whole host of activities. In August of 2015, Lil became unwell and moved into Yukana’s Total Care Facility. Bob walked up from the unit to visit each day before deciding to move from the unit to be able to spend more time with Lil.

Although Lil passed away in January 2016, we are glad Bob continues to call Yukana home. His active social life means he is very involved in Yukana’s lifestyle activities and is still enjoying sharing time with his friends at Yukana. He often spends time away on family holidays and local outings, as well as hosting family and friends when they come to visit.

Stay tuned for the next life story from one of our amazing Yukana residents.

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