Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Memory of Patrick Donnelly, 13 Nov 1944 to 5 Oct 2017

Patrick photographing the endangered orchid Disa hallackii

Patrick sadly lost his battle with cancer on 5 October 2017. Here are a few of my personal thoughts of such a wonderful friend and mentor.

I met Patrick when I first moved to Hermanus with my family in 2012. I had contacted him through the Walker Bay Orchid Society and he was immediately welcoming. We shared a vast passion for orchids so we always had so much to talk about. I remember how fascinated he was in my hobby of orchid seed germination and flasking. He was a strong personality, upright and forthright - someone who I could get on with very easily. His knowledge of orchids was immense, as was his orchid collection. He always had something in bloom! I would frequently get an excited phone call about rare species in bloom to come and view. The excitement was also there when I reciprocated. I will always miss this.

Patrick was a great and true friend, and I would often seek only his counsel on various issues. I remember how supportive both he and his wife Dot were when Mel and I nearly lost our son after he was born, and again in difficult times before we left for Australia. Patrick always had a wise word to offer, and listening to his own experiences offered much hope and support, especially when I had no frame of reference of my own.

Patrick was well known and well-respected in the community. He was a natural leader and a cornerstone of the Walker Bay Orchid Society. He was always involved in so many things. He was an advocate for the conservation of the endangered Disa hallackii growing just down the road from his house, and had a genuine care for their ongoing protection and survival. He was always heavily involved with each annual orchid show event, which always seemed to be a resounding success. He always took the time to speak to everyone at the show, offering advice on growing various species and hybrids to the beginner as well as the advanced growers - a real gentleman.

We kept in touch frequently after I arrived in Australia, and it was always so good to hear his voice and to chat shop. He was strong and strong willed, but aware that he wouldn't be able to beat it this time. Slowly the time we could spend chatting became less and I often felt guilty for not being just around the corner to help him and Dot. To Dot and family my deepest sympathies for your loss. 

Farewell my friend and thank you for teaching me so much about such a great many things in such a short space of time. You are remembered with each orchid that blooms, with each walk I do into university, and always when talking shop. Rest in peace my friend.

You always enjoyed this one