Victoria in state of shock at death toll

from page 4 of The Examiner, May 1, 1996

[no by-line]

  The shockwaves from Port Arthur have hit families, schools, small farming communities, sports clubs and workplaces across Victoria. Twelve of the 35 people slain at the historic Tasmanian site were Victorians.
  They included a schoolgirl, a World War II veteran and three easy-going golf partners.
  Some of them died pushing loved ones out of the line of fire.
  Dunnstown, a township of 300 people in a potato-growing area near Ballarat, has been in mourning since news that locals Mervyn and Mary Howard were among the dead.
  "It's terrible, really sad. They were a lovely, devoted couple," said Gwen Murphy, a neighbour of the Howards.
  Mr Howard and his wife were in their 50s and had five children. They both worked for Telstra.
  Mr Howard was chairman of the Ballarat region of the Victorian Country Football League and had been secretary of the Ballarat Football League for 15 years. Mrs Howard played the organ at the local Catholic church.
  "Neighbours were crying and upset -- it is disbelief, really," Mrs Murphy said.
  Among the first to die were 71-year-old Ron Jary, retired horticulturalist, and his friend Dennis Lever.
  The two men from Red Cliffs in Victoria's far north-west pushed their wives aside moments before being shot.
  Mr Jary, a soldier settler, Uniting Church elder and past president of the Red Cliffs Rotary Club and RSL, recently underwent a triple bypass operation.
  Reflecting upon the tragic irony of a man surviving a war and major surgery only to be murdered on holidays, Mr Jary's friend of 50 years Ernie Wolf said: "That is the way life is. Really, you never know."
  Two hundred people attended a prayer service for the Port Arthur victims and their families at the Uniting Church in Red Cliffs last night.
  "The feeling in the local community is shock, open grief, outrage and vulnerability," Uniting Church minister Millie Lehmann said.
  "It is not unusual to see people weeping in the street as they talk."
  Retired brothers Kevin and Raymond Sharp and their golf partner Wally Bennett died alongside one another at Port Arthur. The three men in their 60s were with a group of 12 from the Kilmore Golf Club who went to Tasmania for a birthday celebration. Kilmore is a small town north of Melbourne.
  Club manager Trevor Perry said Kevin Sharp was "a great singer and a great poet" who made everyone feel at ease. Mr Perry said Mr Sharp had died shielding his wife, Marlene, from gunfire.
  All three men are survived by adult children. A fourth member of the golf club group, Gary Broom, is recovering after being shot in the face.
  Fifteen-year-old Sarah Loughton was with her mother, Carolyn, in the Port Arthur cafe where 20 people died.
  The teenager from Ferntree Gully in Melbourne's outer eastern suburbs was shot dead. Her mother was shot in the shoulder but survived.
  Geelong woman Elva Gaylard, 48, was another victim of Australia's worst modern-day mass murder.
  A nurse at Geelong Hospital for nearly 30 years, she was on an eight-day tour of Tasmania.
  Painter and decorator Peter Nash, from Hoppers Crossing in outer west suburban Melbourne, died next to his wife, Carolyn, who survived the slaughter.
  The couple reportedly met while backpacking in Europe and had been married for 18 months. They had travelled to Tasmania for the weekend.

[image: "Car park grief: An unidentified man weeps with shock and grief in the car park at Port Arthur yesterday near where 24 people were shot on Sunday." (8.5x12) ]

[ Geniacs Humble Abode | Contact ]
Last Updated: 10pm, Saturday, April 4, 1998