Dr Reg Pascoe AM
Celebration of a Life 11:00am Oakey Cultural Centre; 16 December 2017
It was an exquisite production; as one might have expected. Oakey is the actual birthplace and spiritual home of another Queensland, Australian and International Champion Legend. A magnificent Bronze Statue of the brilliant thoroughbred ‘Bernborough’ graces and dominates the civic precinct. What is it about Oakey and the Darling Downs? ‘Out of tiny acorns great oak trees may flourish’. I doubt there are many acorns around Oakey; but there must be some mighty gumnuts?
The assembled cast matched the eclectic occasion. Professor Andrew Dart was invited MC for the service. His humorous and mildly self-deprecating anecdotes admirably set the tone. Alan Jones AM prepared an excellent homily which was telecast on the big screen. Alan grew up on a dairy farm at Cecil Plains and remembered very well the young pioneer veterinarian from Oakey. The encomium to Reg was his finest performance. I would say that, wouldn’t I? You can interpret that remark as you wish. The Hon Bob Katter MP walked in to join the congregation of about 300 just as the video clip was being played. He even carried his hat in his hands!
Third son Dr Roess Pascoe presented the complete biography of his late father. I have included this at the end of the ‘blog’. It should be recorded for posterity in the National Archives in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra. Partner-in-practice Paul Green elaborated on much of the fine personal detail of evolution of the practice in Oakey. Reg was a very practical man of many parts acting as carpenter, stonemason, design engineer, fencer, furniture-maker and builder. Bob Menrath expanded on Reg’s early involvement, business acumen and hugely successful directorship of the PROVET organisation. There followed a powerful Masonic Tribute from the grandmaster of the Oakey Freemason’s Lodge. Father Kerry Costigan eloquently emphasized the spirituality of Reg and the Pascoe family in harmony with the ‘architect of the Universe’. Finally Scott McAlpine of ‘Eureka Stud’, Cambooya delivered a highly emotional and very eloquent vignette on his and his family’s long association; again with great emphasis on ‘belonging to family’ while labelling Reg a ‘workaholic’. The first meeting between Scott’s father Colin and Reg he likened to the ‘clash of the Titans’. I can believe it; I knew both!
Interspersed with the oral presentations were recorded and actual vocal renditions of some of Reg’s favourite songs. Surprisingly he was a devotee of ABBA! ‘Take a chance on me’, ‘I have a dream’, ‘You raise me up’ and ‘What a wonderful world’ resonated around the auditorium.
David Pascoe admirably summarised in detail growing up within this remarkable family of such prodigious professional excellence and academic achievement. It was positive reinforcement at all times. There was an intriguing reference to Professor Twink Allen’s characteristic incisive citation to ‘Pascoe Mafia’ scrutiny at Bain Fallon Conferences! David concluded with what we knew all along. While Reg was the driving force staunchly supportive supreme Matriarch Joy was never very far away. The same premise applied this very day. Joy looked as serene and beautiful as ever although the occasion was oh so poignant. Theirs was a wonderfully successful and enduring partnership; albeit Joy sometimes wondered ‘whether she was married to twins’ such was the frenzy of activity!
David Pascoe, admirable spouse Heather, staff from Pascoe’s Oakey Equine Hospital and all other members of the Pascoe clan deserve our heartfelt and grateful thanks for the opportunity to share in such a fabulous farewell; if that’s not tautology or simply more of my egregious etymological ordure? We all enjoyed the lavish spread provided for lunch with more than adequate provision of ‘lubricating fuel’; if you’re not driving!
It was great to see our profession so very well represented. My wife Sarah asked me if it would be a reunion. It was. I counted and/or spoke to the following: Lex Carroll, Ross Teitzel, Greg Nash, Dave Lovell, Kevin Squire and spouse, Derek Major, Nigel Nichols, Nick Kannegieter, Chris Johnston, Jane Axon, Garth McGilvray and spouse Sue, Jim Vasey, Tony Thelander and spouse, Ross Duigan, Bob Menrath, David Skerman, Ben Poole and Chris Reardon. I know I’m in trouble the moment I compile lists. I offend by omission. I missed some I did not know; and perhaps some I did not recognise? There were a few surprises! Many men are less hirsute; more ‘Gunsynd’ than ‘Baguette’ if they still have hair? That comparison dates me! Big Joe Best was there as well and with Sue Crampton represented allied occupations.
I have written this after my 10 hour drive home for Oakey via Warwick south down the New England Highway. It used to take me 8 hours. The compensation was appreciation of the supreme beauty of the country along the way. It’s been a good season on the Downs and Northern New South Wales has scored well in recent El Nino distribution. I came past/through Emmaville and Bendemeer. The former is the birthplace of the ‘Emmaville Express’ Olympian athlete Debbie Wells. Blink and you miss it. I purposely drove through Bendemeer; now bypassed. As I arrived home I turned on the TV. Bendemeer local Josh Hazlewood had just taken the first two wickets in the English Lions second innings in the 3rd Ashes Test at the WACA. I had been quietly contemplating the cognitive brilliance to emerge from the small Downs town of Oakey. The thought struck me in Australia this sort of excellence can emerge from anywhere; be it cognitive, psychomotor or affective. There’s hope for us all yet.
Biography of Reginald Roland Roessler Pascoe AM: Presented by Dr Roess Pascoe
Reg was born in Toowoomba on July 13, 1929 to Vyvyan Edmondson and Amelia Christina Pascoe of ‘Schoenberg’ Harlaxton. Reg’s father was a primary school teacher, headmaster and dairy farmer. Because of his father’s teaching assignments, Reg travelled a bit for his early education including a stint of batching with his Dad in the headmaster’s quarters at Oakey State School for Grades 4 – 7, before attending Toowoomba Grammar School (TGS) as a day boy. Reg rode his bicycle 5 miles each way to TGS, earned a bronze medal in lifesaving, and served in the cadet corps.
Upon graduation from TGS, he received several scholarships including Teachers Training College, which he declined much to the chagrin of his father. During an interview for an engineering cadetship, the Chief Engineer listening to his experience with animals suggested he should apply to veterinary school, which Reg thought was pretty unlikely. However, in 1947, Reg received a repayable Commonwealth Scholarship to study Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland; the first class to undertake all of their training in Queensland after WWII. Reg captained the UQ rifle team during his time at University.
In 1952, he established the first veterinary practice in Oakey, 1 of only 5 private practices outside the Brisbane metro area, and relied initially on government contracts for tuberculosis testing and brucellosis and blackleg vaccination of cattle as the practice grew. The original clinic operated from his garage on Cory Street, before he began building new facilities in 1960 on the present site of Oakey Veterinary Hospital.
Throughout his career, Reg took time away from busy practice to support his community. Early on he served on the Oakey State School P & C Committee for 10 years, including as Chair overseeing the building of the first tuck shop under the new wing that housed Grades 1 – 5. He also chaired the organizing committee for the school’s 1974 Centenary Celebrations.
Reg was a Charter member of the Oakey Lions Club, serving as President from 1963 – 1964, and throughout his 15 year perfect attendance, held all executive positions. He was Treasurer during the building of the Oakey Kindergarten, the main funding for which monthly paper collections and chook raffles were held at the Western Line Hotel. At the time, the Education Department provided a $1 for $1 subsidy to match; however, having donated the land, the Shire was not forthcoming. So Reg, determined not to lose this opportunity, succeeded by having the Council agree to contribute in kind, the cost of the sewerage system being installed in that area. During construction, Reg was very much a hands-on team player. Reg was the guest speaker for the Lions’ 50 year celebration dinner.
As the veterinary practice grew Reg became progressively more involved in developing equine practice. In 1968, he realized that he needed to travel further afield to learn, and, unusual fven today, took time away from practice to spend 3 months in the UK and USA in specialised equine practices and Universities. Returning, he expanded the hospital and added a surgical operating theatre with a hydraulic operating table, built locally by Lloyd Iland who had earlier built Reg a mobile cattle crush; both are still in use today. The surgical suite and recovery room were unique in Australia and Reg later served as consultant to Australian and US Universities designing new facilities.
A superb internationally recognised equine veterinarian, Reg maintained strong ties with the Vet School throughout his career providing lectures on pig medicine early in his career based on his experience with the developing commercial pig industry in Queensland, and for much of his career in equine surgery, reproduction and dermatology, and serving as an external examiner. In 1999, with the closure of the equine clinic at the Vet School, Reg agreed to establish the Equine Teaching Unit for the University at the Oakey Veterinary Hospital, which continued until the veterinary school relocated to Gatton. Loyal to his alma mater, Reg was a patron of the capital Campaign Fund for the new Vet School at Gatton.
Perhaps a frustrated academic, and certainly unusual for a private practitioner, Reg was driven by an innate curiosity to understand the diseases he was encountering and to provide the highest level of patient care, published more than 60 scientific reports of his clinical observations and scientific studies.
From the practice he earned a Masters in Veterinary Science (MVSc) in 1967; Doctor of Veterinary Science (DVSc) in 1984; Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (FRCVS) in 1973 for original research on fungal skin diseases of horses; and in 1975, became a founding Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (FACVSc). Reg was appointed as an adjunct Professor of the UQ Veterinary School in 1998.
After publication of a small monograph on equine skin diseases in 1974, he went on to author and edit 6 internationally recognised equine text books, on dermatology, disorders of the horse, and equine stud farm medicine and surgery, several of which are now in later editions. Reg served on the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland for 42 years. He was instrumental in national licensing of overseas veterinarians (NOOSR – Veterinary Science) serving for more than a decade including as chair and chief examiner. The totality of his contributions to veterinary science was honoured with the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987.
Not surprisingly, Reg received major achievement awards throughout his career form national Veterinary Associations and Universities, the Queensland Horse Council, and Australian Farriers and Blacksmiths Association and in 1999 he was an inaugural inductee into the Queensland Festival of the Horse Equine hall of Fame. Remarkably, at least 4 organizations have awards named in Reg’s honour, and the Australian Equine Veterinary Association has the Reginal Pascoe Peroration annually to recognize outstanding veterinarians.
What of Reg the man? He and joy married in 1952, a partnership of more than 65 years, and nurtured 4 boys: John, David, Roess and Andrew through Oakey Schools and the University of Queensland to become veterinary or medical specialists. Family gatherings were special times full of fellowship, love and laughter; and when the boys became adults, enjoyed over a glass of red wine.
To many Reg was a mentor, life coach, and an encyclopaedic clinical resource whereas others perceived him as stern and somewhat intimidating. Regardless, he engendered tremendous respect from colleagues and clients who sought out his expertise knowing they would get unvarnished answers. Reg led quietly by example and expected everyone to chip in and do what was expected of them, and if you didn’t, you usually heard about it. At times he could be short or gruff, but slow to anger, and not shy about expressing his view, especially if he thought you were off base. A deeply private and caring person, he kept a watchful eye over his family, immediate and extended, and guided from the side, being intensely supportive but not reticent to give advice if anyone was straying too far from the paddock.
He enjoyed travelling, including around Australia in the “Swaggie” after retirement; worked with Joy tirelessly on taming their rocky patch into a beautiful garden and orchard despite grumbling about the lack of rain and being miserly with water, revelled in his gardening successes. An avid photographer, he also enjoyed welding and woodworking, building most f the furniture in the house and the hospital.
Reg will be remembered for his love of life; his humanity, humility, caring and fellowship.
Comments by EVA Past Presidents & Members:
Thanks Bill, a wonderful report on what was an emotive and moving ceremony celebrating the life of a truly wonderful man.
Philosophically living to a great old age means one has been off the scene for some time and the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” sometimes prevails meaning that the current generation of movers and shakers perhaps may not be as acutely aware of` his greatness as those of us who worked with him through the eighties, nineties, and early this century.
As well as all the wonderful things alluded to in the biography. I do not believe it accentuates enough what he has done for the veterinary profession through both the AVA, and particularly the EVA. Nowhere has his influence been more profound than in the BAIN FALLON lectures through their inception until his retirement. In the earlier years, Reg, through his contacts and international reputation, was able to lure the very best speakers in the world “Down Under” to present an incredible array of the most up to date information in the world to Australian veterinarians. Remember, the internet was nowhere near as efficient as it is now
Murray Bain and Peter Fallon undoubtedly deserve their naming rights, but I believe Reg has also played a major contribution to the ongoing success of the series and I would like to see his name incorporated as well
Certainly the EVA has to do something to acknowledge his enormous contribution. The oration was great while he was alive, but I would like to think he could be perpetuated and to my mind, the ‘BAIN FALLON PASCOE’ lecture series could be appropriate
David K Lovell BVSc MACVSc
Redlands Veterinary Clinic
433 Boundary Rd
Dear Bill, David and All
I agree that it was a truly beautiful service and congratulations to the Pascoe family for sending the great man out in such a fine and dignified manner. He inspired many in his life and will continue to long after his death.
David – whilst I fully agree with your sentiment, I personally think the Pascoe per oration is a very appropriate way of recognising Reg’s contributions and it has become an integral and poignant part of the Bain Fallon memorial lecture series.
I am concerned that the Bain Fallon ‘Brand’ could become clouded – and when we lose another truly inspirational EVA personality do we add them to the name too?
Does anyone think Reg would have wanted to alter the name of the Bain Fallon?
I doubt it.
Ben Poole BVSc, MANZCVS
Cooroora Veterinary Clinic
12 Diamond St
COOROY QLD 4563
Professor Twink Allen
Dear Bill and David,
What a splendid and very eloquent piece you wrote, young Bill! Great reading and many thanks to you for taking the time and trouble – especially after such a long drive, no matter how picturesque and beautiful.
And David, for what it’s worth, I strongly support your idea of adding the Pascoe name to the Bain Fallon lectures
A damn good idea and very fitting.
Merry Christmas to you both,
Hello Bill. It was lovely to see you at the memorial service I haven’t seen you for quite a while you’re looking well cheers Yes the memorial service was very humbling. Even those of us who knew Reg fairly well could only be amazed by the man’s achievements truly incredible. The service was organised and handled brilliantly and I was proud to be there amongst so many EVA members. David there is no doubt that all the accolades suggested for Reg are well and truly deserved but I tend to agree with Ben. The Bain Fallon is a tough brand to interfere with and I would suggest the current situation will have to be adequate. As someone noted what would happen the next time a truly remarkable leader in our profession passed away would the Bain Fallon become Bain Fallon Pascoe Kannegieter with all due regards to Nick I am being flippant but I think the brand should stand. My opinion. Kevin.