Peter John Elder

29 March 2019

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Our colleague, Peter Elder, passed away on Sunday, the 24th of March. He was well past 92 years and until recently –when we shifted to the new corridor – Peter would come in regularly each day to produce his email newsletter on current events in the Pacific and East Timor based on reginal newspapers and other new sources.

Peter was a man of great experience. He was born in Rose Bay, NSW but his mother took him to England at an early age. He was initially educated at Neals Mathematic School in the heart of London but, in 1940, was shipped to live with his mother’s sister in the United States. He travelled from Bordeaux to Halifax, Nova Scotia and then across to continent to Bremerton on Puget Sound in Washington. He attended high school there and spent one year at the University of Washington before returning to England and enlisting in the Royal Engineers.

As the war came to an end, he was posted first to Berlin, then Rome, Vienna, Bombay and Singapore before eventually returning to Melbourne in 1948. He spent a year at the University of Melbourne before joining the Public Service in 1949. In 1964, he was transferred to Canberra and lived in Gundaroo where he opened a bookshop. In the early 1970’s, he did an Honours degree in History at the ANU and then spent another six years, based in Canberra, doing a PhD for the then University of Darwin. He wrote his PhD on Charles Lydiard Abbott, an early administrator of the Northern Territory. In his retirement, he joined State, Society and Environment to write his newsletter. He also continued to pursue many other interests, one of which was the study of Russian for which he took weekly tutorials. Peter was a fount of wisdom and generous comment and could regularly be found at lunch at University House for which a special table was held in reserve.

James J. Fox
29 March 2019

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