Memories from Old Boy John Colbert (SPC 1944-47)
author: Catriona Banks
I had the distinct pleasure of chatting to Old Collegian John Colbert, pictured above in his 1947 Matriculation photo, who was at the College on Saturday March 17, joining in the festivities of the 125th anniversary celebrations.
Born in 1930 into a farming family at Watchem, about 250-odd kilometres north-west of Ballarat, John boarded at St Patrick’s in the years after World War II. While times were fairly tough with many items (including material for school uniforms) rationed, John’s memories of SPC were happy. In his Matriculation year of 1947, John won the Cup in the Open Handball championships, competed in the champion house football and cricket teams, and was the Open wrestling champion.
The year after John finished school to go back to the farm, his younger brother, Patrick Francis Colbert, who was 16 years old and in our equivalent of year 10 at St Patrick’s, drowned in Lake Wendouree in November 1948. This devastating event which occurred 70 years ago, was still a painful memory for John to relate.
John went on to marry and he and his wife had 10 children, and for a time, fostered his brother’s six boys while their family went through a hard patch. As John left St Patrick’s to drive home to Watchem, I thought about the amazing and very busy life this wonderful old collegian had lived. He is turning 88 this year and gives no indication of slowing down.