Stories of 125 alumni are being retold as part of Aquinas College’s 125th anniversary celebrations in 2019.
Stories of boys who have graduated CBC Perth/Aquinas College and have chosen a path reflective of the values of an Edmund Rice education.
Our project “Legacy – the best you can be… for others” reflects the stories of men across the generations.
Victor Paino AM – Class of 1955
Victor was the son of Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Paino who arrived from the island of Fulcudi in 1911. He opened Fremantle Fish Supply in Fremantle in 1926. Salvatore believed education was the key to success and so he and his wife sacrificed many of life’s luxuries and worked a 7-day week so he could afford to send his boys to good schools. Salvatore was determined that they would have things he never did.
“The best thing my father ever did for me,” says Victor “was to send me to Aquinas”. The worst thing he ever did for him was drop him off at school in the old blue ute that was followed by hordes of flies who were attracted by the stench of fish. He can laugh about it looking back. Victor recalls it was a very hard life. While his older brother was being conscripted to fight for Australia in WWII Salvatore was interred as an Italian Prisoner of War in Harvey in 1940. Despite the fact Salvatore had become an Australian citizen in 1920. At the age of only 15 Victor was plucked from Aquinas to join his father’s business.
Although by his own admission, not Aquinas’ finest academic, Victor is arguably one of its finest entrepreneurs. His business sense drove the family business to become the multi-million dollar enterprise that is Sealanes today. He widened the product line to include small goods and much needed ships’ supplies to a growing port that dominated Australia’s western seaboard.
Before long, his customers had upgraded from local shoppers to navies and commercial shipping. Anyone who arrived by ship in the 1950s needed to restock and so he supplied them with the best. He lived through the arrival of refrigeration, but before it came ships had an even greater need of fresh produce. Prestigious customers used his company, such as Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Yacht Britannia on a trip to Australia.
Victor left the business 14 years ago and publically he takes no credit for the company’s success. If you ask him he will tell you that “I was very, very lucky and many people helped me”. It is his way to deflect the glory to others. He attributes his strong work ethic to his parents and the education they worked so hard to provide him. He was given the Member of the Order of Australia in 2018 for significant services to the seafood retailing industry, to ship supply services, and to the community through support of charitable groups such as Rotary and the Fremantle Hospital.
Martin John Troy (1891-1962) – Class of 1908
Martin excelled at Christian Brothers’ in the early part of the last century. His life contains one of the more memorable personal stories of the Great War. An outstanding cricketer: he once took 14/32 while at school. He also still holds the Athletics record for throwing a cricket ball 112yds. On leaving school, he became an accountant at Mily Mily Station near the Murchison River, until the war interrupted his life. His enlistment number was 688, and he joined a month before his 24th birthday.
He landed at Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd February 1915. Two months later, he embarked for Gallipoli on April 12th 1915. Whilst fighting at “Bloody Angle”, he and others from his Battalion were bombed. Knocked senseless by a bomb, he awoke to find his mates Privates White and Gray lying dead beside him. All others he had arrived with were dead or wounded.
He crawled away after dark but was captured by a German. This man changed his life when he discovered a Catholic medal from Sr Stanislaus amongst the dog tags around his neck. He too was a Catholic and the two men communicated in the German’s broken English and spoke about the futility of war. Reportedly, his captor was relieved when it was decided that Martin should be spared. The following three years were terrible hardship and his weight nearly halved during his internment as a Prisoner of War in Turkey. It was reported after the event: “Of those Australians who fought in this action, he was the only one who survived it in the hands of the Turks”.
He was reported missing on 1st May, as no one knew he had survived never mind been taken to the Kaba Tepe Region of Turkey. As a prisoner, Martin worked on the Bagdad Railway Construction Company’s railway and tunnel through the Taurus Mountains. At the end of the war, he was repatriated to England and disembarked at Dover on 8th December, 1918. He was clearly well treated and recovered as he marched out from the Australian HQ London, to Weymouth nearly a year later and was returned to Fremantle on 2nd April the following year.
Martin went on to live a long and happy life on his return to Australia. He married and had three children: Frank, Joan and Maureen. Joan is the mother of Test cricketer Terry Alderman. Martin’s career as an umpire at the WACA was in sharp contrast with that of his early life, as no doubt his grandson Terry Alderman would testify.
Maurice Cullity – Class of 1953
As the school’s sixth Rhodes Scholar, Maurice had a stunning combination of sporting and academic achievements behind him by the time he went to Oxford in 1957. Born of strong Irish Catholic parents Maurice made the most of his time at Aquinas and the spirit of the Brothers’ teaching has stayed with him throughout his stellar career in Law. In his last two years at Aquinas College, he completed seven subjects gaining five distinctions. Maurice was equally talented at Cricket and Football: captained the 1st XI, and was a rover in the winning 1st XVIII. In a match against Hale in 1953 “not out for 85” got him a mention in the 1953 Annual!
He won the Inters Mile, and was Head Prefect and Captain of the School in 1953. Modesty typical of a great Aquinian prevents him from crowing about his academic successes, especially as he, like so many others, had a second go before finishing on a high in his final year. Having put in the hard yards at Aquinas College, his success at university surprised no one and he went on to get 19 out of 20 subject distinctions while studying Law at UWA. In fact, Maurice won every single prize for which he was eligible.
On returning from Oxford, where he’d been asked to stay and lecture in Law, Maurice taught in Melbourne. During a sabbatical at the University of Pennsylvania he was approached by the current Dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School and asked if he would take up a position there in 1968. He and his wife moved to Ontario and in spite of the cold winters settled happily. In a smooth upward trajectory Maurice began practice as a barrister in Ontario in 1984; was subsequently appointed QC; and then Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1997. Ten years later the state acknowledged The Honourable Maurice Cullity’s contribution to Law in Ontario with an Ontario Bar Association award – the 2017 Award of Excellence in Trusts and Estates Law.
Maurice remembers an education at Aquinas that was happy and challenging from a dedicated group of Brothers who helped prepare him for his chosen career.
Herb Elliott – Class of 1955
Herb Elliott is arguably one of the greatest Australian athletes to come through Aquinas. The same year he was Head Prefect (1955) he broke the Australian Junior 880 yard record up against boys two years his senior. It was a taste of things to come and he went on to dominate middle distance running in Australia and the world from 1957 to 1961. During this period, he set the world record for the mile and then the 1500 metres. Herb won gold for Australia in the 1960 Rome Olympics, bettering his own world record. He never lost a 1500 metres or a mile race over this period.
Herb’s journey to greatness began on the oval at Aquinas College, as he said: “I’d been brought up a Catholic at Aquinas College in Perth and you’re constantly confronted by this idea of being a better person. That appealed to me. My motivation was very pure. I wanted to be a better human being. That was my number one thing.”
Herb was not just an outstanding sportsman; he was also a born leader and was praised for the way he led the Athletics team and the College Prefects of 1955.
On leaving Aquinas, he studied at Cambridge University, was married and had his first child in quick succession. He secured his first role at Shell and went on to take up several big non-executive roles in his business life.
Looking back his big takeaway from an outstanding athletic career is “If you were going to grow, your motivation had to be more than just winning or getting money.”
JJ (Jack) Savage (1897-1948) – Class of 1911
JJ or Jack Savage was by anyone’s measure an outstanding all-rounder who came up through the college ranks of CBC Perth, graduating in 1911. He really made the most of his time and represented the school in Athletics, Football, Rowing, Swimming and Cricket.
Academically he was equally impressive during the last three of his eight years at the school, performing regularly in the top ten of the State academically. He was a member of the East Perth league Football team and held the amateur half-mile running championship for WA. In Rowing, he was stroke of the 1909 team which established the mile record on the river, and represented WA in the interstate Rowing championships in Tasmania. So good was he on the field that then Governor Bedford was quoted in The West Australian as saying: “We must get rid of this Savage or the other schools won’t get a look in!”
It was his Rowing, however, which nearly got him into deep water during his Rhodes Scholarship. He was asked to row for Oxford in 1912, and would have done so had he not had an unfortunate fall on his bike. That year was famously a good year to miss being in the winning team of the world’s most famous boatrace. The weather was so bad both boats sank! Although Oxford emptied its boat and managed to finish. When the race was rerun the following Monday, Oxford won by the biggest margin in its history in similarly terrible conditions.
Jack graduated in Medicine and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. Inevitably, the war claimed his career and he served in Ireland in the Royal Air Force. He was a man of principal and ideas who was hugely popular with others because of his wide range of interests and abilities.
A press report from The West Australian said at the time: “The most striking impression he had gained while abroad was the remarkable strength of the British Empire and the reputation which it gave its members for financial integrity.”
The unfairness of trade agreements that disadvantaged members of the Commonwealth like Australia struck him as a complete injustice. Although wishing to change the world through politics, he returned to WA and served many years as a much-loved doctor in Narrogin. Very sadly, he died of a heart attack in 1948.
Bishop Michael Morrissey – Class of 1969
Growing up on Noongall Sheep Station at Yalgoo near Geraldton as the first boy, but second of five children, Michael Morrissey boarded at Aquinas for seven years. Armed with a love of reading, Michael showed an early passion for the Church. His mother recalls that his Calling to the Church showed itself early as he would round up the local children for Mass, which might happen once a fortnight or once a month, as Church was about 30km from Yalgoo and the priest would travel from Mullewa or Mt Magnet. Even as a very young person he really enjoyed going to Mass, and when his cousin tragically died in a car crash Michael wanted to offer Mass to his memory.
His mum recalls that his calling to the priesthood did not come as a surprise: “I think it was his nature. Some people are born to be certain things and Michael was born to be a priest.” Growing up on a station, young Michael was home taught, barefoot and in a class of only three: his brother, his sister and himself. Year 1 at Aquinas, where he was suddenly thrust into a class of 43 boys, was a foreign experience. He found it “exciting and a bit traumatic” but by Year 9 it began to feel more like home.
On discovering that he was not a natural athlete or swimmer, Br Worner put young Michael in charge of organising the Swimming Carnival. He found he rose to organisational challenges easily. He was not overly impressed with the way Religion was taught at school, and possibly, was motivated therefore to do something about it. The strong need within him to help others was something he found grew stronger while at the school. By the time he had reached Year 11 he felt he could speak to one of the Brothers about it and did so. He had become a regular face at the 7am Mass at school, which he found was a helpful uninterrupted period of reflection.
At his ordination in St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Geraldton in 1981, his mother Margaret said: “He has dedicated his life to God and his pastoral work and I cannot be happier for him.” Michael was the first priest from the Diocese of Geraldton to become the Bishop for the region in 2017.
Michael’s lasting memory from his time at Aquinas is: “it was important to show respect and value for what you receive, and then in practical terms, to show it by doing something for someone else”.