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Vale Rev Ian Graham

Rev Ian Graham


Ian Graham was born in New Cumnock in Ayrshire, Scotland on the 28th of June 1934.

He grew up in that area, getting his schooling to the equivalent of year 10; on leaving he started work in a photography unit of a hospital’s plastic surgery department.

On the 7th of April 1951 at the age of 16, Ian and his parents, John and Janet, immigrated to Australia. They lived in Sydney, and in 1953 they moved into their own home that was close to a Presbyterian Church.

Out of curiosity he started going to this church and not long after this he first considered entering ministry. To do this Ian had to further his education and after two years of night school he was accepted to go to Sydney University, studying an Arts Degree.

Well, at this he found he was unsuccessful. His determination then led him to undertake the six year NSW Home Mission course.

In this course he served the church in Wollongong, Gosford, Harbord and Como-Janneli. On completing the course he was ordained in December 1966 at the age of 32.

Reverend Ian Graham was keen to become a Military Chaplain – Firstly his interest was pulling him towards the Air Force, yet with the Vietnam War in progress the need was in the army. So in January 1967 Rev Ian was commissioned as an Australian Army Chaplain.

Initially Padre Ian served at Wacol and Enoggera before a tour in Vietnam from May 1968 to May 1969.

When talking about Vietnam, Rev Graham remembered most warmly being a link between the troops and their worried wives and families. This was especially necessary because of the unreliability and delays in the mail.

On return Padre Ian continued his posting in Enoggera, and this is when he met, fell in love with and married Jean on the 5th of December 1970 in the presence of no less than 10 ministers. Another posting immediately sent them to Townsville and then to Ingleburn where he completed the Arts Degree that had eluded him years before.

The next posting to Puckapunyal and eventually Ian received what would be his last posting to Yeronga at the First Military Hospital.

An indication of the high regard that Padre Ian was held in, was shown in the invitations that he would receive from the SGT’s and CPL’s to attend their functions when there was no formal need for a Chaplain to attend and in the way that soldiers would come up to him at any time on the street.

This reflected his deep concern for people and his desire to relate to them on a one to one basis, accepting them how they were and where they were. Padre Ian particularly liked the casual, unstructured situations where there was no artificialness in the relationship.

His greatest satisfaction in the Army was his last post at the Yeronga Hospital where he was received by patients that he had ministered to in Vietnam and elsewhere.

Padre Ian discharged from the Army on medical grounds at the rank of Major in February 1983 after 16 years. He then continued to serve the Church in his appointment to the Uniting Church parish at Fassifern until 1988.

After his retirement Rev Graham suffered poor health and was progressively slowed with the progression of his Parkinson’s Disease. For the past eight years he has lived at Brassall Village Nursing Home.

Ian was a devoted husband and father of Morag and James, a proud Scotsman and man of God. Rest in peace.

Photo : Rev Ian Graham