Patrick James Dunne, who died recently after a long illness, was a big man with a big heart. Pat provided strong leadership for north Queenslanders who supported Christian social principles during his term as regional officer for the National Civic Council (NCC) in the 1960s and ’70s.
Pat hailed originally from Toowoomba and, after working for the state public service and serving with the RAAF during World War II, he came to north Queensland to take up a soldier-settler’s block and commenced growing tobacco in the Burdekin district outside the regional town of Ayr. During this time, he married Doreen who, as he recounted, was “a young English girl who had campaigned for [Sir Winston] Churchill”.
After some years, tobacco turned out to be unsustainable in the Burdekin district, and Pat was appointed secretary to the Pioneer District Sugar Canegrowers Committee.
Pat was an avid reader and had a discerning interest in current affairs. For some time, he had been an ardent admirer of B.A. (“Bob”) Santamaria, and this, with his keen sense of social justice, motivated him to accept the position of north Queensland regional officer of the NCC.
Pat had a strong Catholic faith and was a very prayerful man who gave himself for the cause unstintingly.
At times, Pat was a hard taskmaster, but on the other hand was generally available to help those who looked to him for advice on serious personal problems.
Pat and Doreen were blessed with 10 children, but had many crosses to bear. A particularly sad one was the untimely death of their second child from a cardiac condition at age 15. Some years later, a traffic accident claimed the life of their eldest son, in his late twenties.
Pat will be remembered as one who performed a very onerous task for the Movement at a very crucial time. May he rest in peace.