Alumni Memorial Prayer Garden

We remember

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Avondale honours its alumni at Homecoming

Family members of an Avondale student who drowned in heavy surf have helped dedicate a prayer garden at Homecoming in memory of other deceased alumni.

A donation from Ray Wilson, Sr, on behalf of his family and in memory of son Raymond Wilson, Jr, enabled the building of the Alumni Memorial Prayer Garden next to the Music Hall on Avondale College of Higher Education’s Lake Macquarie campus.

“A father never forgets,” said director of advancement, marketing and admissions Colin Crabtree of the time since Raymond’s drowning at Caves Beach in 1963. “Our heavenly Father never forgets us either.” Colin noted in his speech at the ceremony on Friday afternoon (August 24) how Ray did not see the garden as a memorial to his son but as a memorial “to everything for which he stood.”

Robert Hansford reflected on his former roommate, describing him as a man of prayer who maintained an enviable academic record, worked to pay his fees, enjoyed sport and had a sense of humour. He referred to a citation in Raymond’s Bible—given to Robert by Raymond’s parents. The citation challenged Robert to “use the Bible as we had hoped [Raymond] would.” How would Ray have used it? “In a way that would have assisted him and others to grow with his friend Jesus,” said Robert.

Outgoing Avondale Alumni Association president Pr Desmond Hills, who in his role as dean of men led in the search for Raymond and at Raymond’s memorial service, read from his devotional Light For My Life. The book includes two readings, “Live a Full Life” and “I Am The Resurrection,” about Raymond. “Seventy-thousand copies have kept the memory of Raymond alive,” he said before donating one of his last to Raymond’s sister, Marilyn Schriever.

The garden, when completed and when the plants and trees mature, will provide an enclosed space in which to reflect on the lives of staff members and other students who have died while working or studying at Avondale. The memorial is made of a steel alloy that forms a patina of rust, which will offer protection from other forms of corrosion. “It becomes more beautiful with age,” says designer David Stafford, the former head of the architecture programs in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at The University of Newcastle. It is also aligned with a point on the original axis that runs through College Hall. “It’s in the centre, the heart, of campus,” says David.


The alumni association presented a new award at Homecoming this year, with Alumna of the Year now joining Alumnus of the Year as the association’s most prestigious.

Dr Mary Wong received the former during the worship service on Saturday morning for her commitment to the ministry of teaching and for her service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Asia—she is a former chair of the English Departments at Southeast Asia Union and at Taiwan Adventist Colleges, a departmental director for the church’s Northern Asia Pacific Division and a lecturer at San Jose State University.

Des received the latter for his 41 years of ministry in administration, education, evangelism, public relations and youth leadership at all levels of the church.

Eight other alumni, one from each honour year, joined Mary and Des as award recipients. Receiving citations from their classmates were: retired church administrator Keith Irvine (1942); retired engineer Ray Masters (1952); primary teacher Hazel Eaton (1962); business people and Sonship founders Trevor and Helen Oliver (1972); outdoor recreation lecturer David Low (1982); Captivating International Foundation founders Andrew and Julie Colquhoun (1987); primary teacher Joyanne Walsh (1992); and Walkley Award-winning journalist Kristina Kukolja (2002).

Alumni Lecture

Dr Cedric Greive took his audience on a journey through the mind during the Alumni Lecture on Friday morning. His topic: memory. Cedric is retiring this year after 45 years of service—of which 26 have been at Avondale—as an Adventist educator.

The alumni association dedicated the lecture to another long-serving educator, Dr Owen Hughes, noting his work on Valuegenesis, a “milestone” study that for the first time gave the church in the South Pacific some understanding of the faith development and value formation of its young adults.

Annual general meeting

During the annual general meeting following the lecture, members of the alumni association elected small business person and former school principal Cornelius Szeszeran as their president. Former nurse and flight attendant Allyson Allen and former director of Adventist children’s ministries for the church in the South Pacific Janet Rieger are the new vice-presidents.

Music for Royal Occasions

A concert celebrating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and featuring all of Avondale’s music ensembles almost filled Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday evening. Vocal ensemble The Promise’s sublime performance of Richard Burchard’s 2010 composition “When David Heard” earned sustained applause, as did guest and long-serving former head of the then Music Department at Avondale Alan Thrift, who conducted a Homecoming Choir in a performance of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” as a finale to the concert.

Golf Classic

Twenty-eight competitors entered the golf classic at the Toronto Country Club on Sunday morning. Alumnus Mark Lamplough and Sean Fitzpatrick with a four under par 67 won the open division of the Ambrose format tournament for a second consecutive year. Alumnus Kendall Holmes, a member of the 1982 honour year, and son Levi won on handicap.


Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale College of Higher Education’s Public Relations Officer. He brings to the role a decade’s experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities. He is also co-convenor of Manifest, a movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating #faithfulcreativity in the Adventist Church.