Brian Unthank (SPC 1948-52)

February 17, 2021

Brian Unthank with his sons Gerard and Michael. Photo courtesy of The Border Mail

The College extends its deepest sympathy to former boarders Gerard (SPC 1977-78) and Michael Unthank (SPC 1980-81) and their families on the sad passing of their father Brian Unthank (SPC 1948-52) on March 31, 2020 aged 85.

Brian is remembered as a dominant force in the livestock and real estate sales in Albury and the surrounding areas, for more than six decades.

Brian Unthank’s passions were always centred around a rural lifestyle.

Originally from Somerville on the Mornington Peninsula, Brian attended SPC as a boarder from the age of 11. Brian was an active student and involved in many sports at SPC, including athletics, football, rowing, basketball. He was a handy runner and was part of the 1950 Treacy House Athletic Champions and 1951 Ballarat Public Schools Athletic Champions team. He was also a member of SPC’s Second XVIII Football team and First XVIII Football side in 1952, and described as a “dashing, reliable half-back flanker. A fair mark, very good on the ground showed his opponents a clean pair of heels and always got his kick. Not afraid to go and meet the ball”. He was part of the 3rd rowing crew in 1951, and was in a nail-biting photo finish in the 2nds crew’s Head of the Lake contest in 1952. Brian was also involved in the St Vincent de Paul Society, and even in the Literary Society, Brian’s love of the land rang true with his speech in the 1952 Purton Oratory Competition entitled “Wool’s Battle With the Synthetics”.

Brian Unthank played in the 1952 First XVIII Football team.

Brian sadly passed away after suffering a major stroke and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year. A private family burial was held in Albury due to the public gathering restrictions in place for the coronavirus pandemic.

Brian is remembered as the founder of Brian Unthank Rural, which has employed three generations of his family, originally moved to the Albury area in the 1950s when he worked for New Zealand Loan.
His first posting as an agent was Boree Creek in a bygone era when it and other surrounding areas including Lockhart, Oaklands, Urana and Rand were all sheep selling centres in addition to larger centres of Corowa, Yarrawonga, Deniliquin, Wagga and Albury.

Brian and his wife Judy moved to Albury when he continued working for New Zealand Loan before its merger with Dalgety Australia at the end of 1961. Five years later he made his biggest career move and established BUR which presently employs three of his children, Susan, Gerard and Michael.

His daughter Susan fondly remembered her father in a moving tribute in The Border Mail newspaper, recalling her dad “worked 24/7, he was an agent through and through, but also a true family man”.
During his school years at SPC, Brian obtained a wool classing certificate and his first job with New Zealand Loan was a cadet in its wool department.

He accepted an offer to join the livestock team working under the company’s Victorian and Riverina auctioneer, Pat Barry.

He obtained his auctioneer’s licence in 1955 and worked at the Newmarket saleyards in Melbourne before the move to the Riverina.

BUR started out in Albury’s Townsend Street when Mr Unthank was joined by Jim Williams, receptionist Mary Hynes and wife Judy.

“Jim was the man who kept dad in check,” Susan said.
Mr Williams also worked for New Zealand Loan in Albury before joining BUR a year after its inception.
“He was very well known as a gun livestock auctioneer,” Mr Williams said.
“He was brilliant at his craft and his knowledge of livestock was really good.
“The business was going so well he invited me to join him in 1967 and was kind enough to offer me a share of the business.
“The smaller country markets were starting to peel off at the time we started up.
“The Wodonga cattle market was where we did most of our business.
“But I was known as the hand-brake of the operation.
“Brian was a very generous fellow and was a great family man as you can see today with his whole family involved in the business.”
Mr Williams worked with until 1987. The company also had stints in Ebden and David streets before its most recent move to “Bolderwood” in Olive Street.

Gerard and Michael joined the business after also attending SPC when the company’s major focus was servicing the rural sector.
But in 1998 the business was separated into rural and real estate entities with the latter becoming a bigger priority for Brian.
He was joined in the real estate arm by daughter Susan, who had previously worked as a nurse.
“We worked alongside each other for 22 years and he kept up with the times,” she said.
“He sold a lot of property and there are some properties he sold five times.”
Susan’s sons Tom and Bart also work for BUR.

Brian’s wife Judy died in 2010 and he is survived by his children Susan, Catherine, Gerard, Michael and Lisa and their families, including 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
The full story tribute in The Border Mail can be read at this link here

Brian Unthank in his Intermediate class photograph in 1948.