John Smellie died on 8th December 2010. John had a passion for mission, justice and development and Palms Australia (Paulian Association) was a great beneficiary of his knowledge and skills. Long after his very active engagement during the very stressful periods after the death of Roy Boylan, John still provided a great deal of guidance.
In the paper “Missionaries, International Development Volunteers and Beyond”, I mentioned that: “The paper draws largely on the author’s experience over 18 years … Most of the analysis is reliant on that experience and of all who in that time have shared the experience of their involvement.” John and his wife Cecily who provided me with so much insight into the development of Palms, especially in my early days as Executive Director, were at the forefront of that thought. It was their insights that gave me confidence and support about the direction Palms might take.
I last spoke to John at the memorial service for Cyril Hally in Sydney last October. He acknowledged frailty, but was still very much interested and engaged in thinking about the work of Palms. As Cecily has written to me since: “He was passionate about his interests right until the end. It was a shock that he went to God earlier than expected, but it was certainly better for him, as the emphysema was catching up and the future wasn’t to be very comfortable. As it happened John had maintained his independence until that time and he was granted a very peaceful and beautiful death, really as befitted the life he had led.”
Over a long period of time, both in Australia, and while working independently in Papua New Guinea, John gave many hours volunteering in the interests of the Paulians and Palms. After Roy’s death John was determined to ensure that the organisation be supported and gave extraordinary time and efforts to preserve its dignity. Being fully committed to the role of the laity in spreading the Gospel message, he brought all his experience from his foundations to his work in the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other organisations.
Our condolences go out to Cecily, who with John, made a great team. While we can be confident that along with their family she will celebrate his life, there is no doubt given the loving and caring partner he was, that he will be missed. Thank you for sharing your lives with the Paulians and Palms and being a great inspiration and practical help to so many over such a long period. You have left us a wonderful legacy!