Home' The Southern Cross : August 2015 Contents Page 26 August 2015
Pam was born in Sydney in 1928, to Sir
Errol and Lady Gertrude Knox – a younger
sister to Patricia and Peter. When she was
10 the family moved to Melbourne and
Pam continued her education at Mandeville
Hall. The Loreto nuns, along with her
family, instilled in Pam an unwavering faith
in God and a deep love of learning. She
also formed lifelong friendships at this
Pam attended Melbourne University and
completed a Bachelor of Arts studying
literature, philosophy and history – three
disciplines of which she never tired. Pam
also indulged in her other love – horse
riding. She had an excellent seat and
competed successfully at shows, point-
to-points and hunts around Victoria, New
South Wales and South Australia.
It was at one of these horse events
that Pam met fellow equestrian, Brian
O’Connor, a farmer from Mount Gambier.
They married on January 5, 1954, and
settled on the family farm, Plovers, at
Wandilo. Pam and Brian went on to have
10 children and she threw herself into the
local community as a member of various
parents and friends committees at Glencoe
Primary School, St Paul’s Primary and
Tenison College. Pam also supported her
children as they participated in local sport.
Pam’s deep faith also ensured that she
was an active member of the Catholic
community at St Brendan’s at Glencoe and
St Paul’s in Mount Gambier. Pam taught
Religious Instruction at Mount Gambier
High, and was a member of a range of
groups within the church including the
parish pastoral council.
Pam was a significant leader who served
from 1972 on the inaugural Tenison College
Board. This Board oversaw, with the
Marist Brothers, the conceptualisation and
implementation of the first coeducational
Catholic secondary college for the region.
In 1974, Pam commenced as a staff
member at Tenison College, assuming the
role of head librarian, providing 16 years
of service, before moving into a classroom
support role in later years. Pam and her
husband Brian also supported the College
as parents and grandparents, serving the
College community in a variety of voluntary
roles. Her community involvement also
extended to netball, Teams of Our Lady,
refugee support, history and creative
Later in her life Pam was much sought after
to chronicle the history of the South East
– her book Second to None told the story
of the pioneering families of the district.
Another book, In Two Fields, brought to
life the story of the soldier settler scheme
and her Out of the Ashes is highly regarded
as a definitive record of the 1983 Ash
Wednesday bushfires in the South East.
Also among her books were two featuring
Tenison College: The Challenge of Change
– The Tenison Story and The Marists of
A very hospitable woman, Pam’s door
was always open for friends and strangers
alike. Pam and Brian hosted several
exchange students from Mexico and gave
them the authentic Aussie experience.
They were also part of the program for the
resettlement of refugees in the early 80s
Her children, their partners, grandchildren
and other further afield relatives and friends
regularly drifted in and out of Plovers,
because they enjoyed being with her, as
well as sharing her famous cheese platters
and a never ending supply of red wine and
scotch whiskey (with ice).
Four years ago Pam moved from the farm
into Mount Gambier. Some would describe
this period of her life as her declining years,
but as her nephew, Brian O’Connor Junior,
poignantly pointed out – they were ‘her
ascending years’ – her time of preparing
herself for eternal life, surrounded by family
and friends, continually giving of herself to
others through prayer, company and love.
In the Australia Day Honours list 2015, Pam
was recognised with the national accolade,
Member of the Order of Australia. It was
a fitting recognition for her outstanding
volunteer work and her work as a local
Her mantra and the way that she lived her
life was: ‘And what does the Lord require
of you? Act justly, love tenderly and walk
humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8).
Pam is survived by nine children, 16
grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Obituary prepared by Mrs Micki Greenham
Mt Gambier historian’s inspirational life
Pam O’Connor AM
Born August 1, 1928
Died May 16, 2015
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