Francis (Frank) Walsh AM QC (SPC 1948)

August 31, 2021

Former County Court Judge Frank Walsh.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Judge Francis (Frank) Walsh AM QC (SPC 1948) on June 26, 2021. A funeral was held at St Theresa’s Church in Essendon on July 5.

Tributes remembered Frank as a “tireless worker at the Bar” who was “renowned for his energy and determination. He was the epitome of what a Judge should be … he was fair, courteous and patient”. Frank had extensive interests beyond the law including sport and racing and was also remembered for his “great devotion to his faith contributing widely to the Catholic Church”.

Frank was born on February 1, 1931 at Trentham and overcame childhood polio. He was sent to Sydney at the age of five, without family, to be treated by the renowned Sister Elizabeth Kenny and it has been suggested that Frank may have been one of Australia’s oldest survivors of polio.
He was educated at Marist Brothers in Kyneton between 1942 and 1947 and matriculated at SPC, where he boarded in 1948.

A wonderful piece, which was published in The Age newspaper in tribute to Frank was written by his eldest child Anne (Dunell).
She wrote of Frank’s time at SPC, that while he was unable to play sports, he “became the analyst of the football team and earnt the respect of the players with his thoughtful observations”.
Frank obtained Honours in Latin and French in his matriculation examinations and graduated with Honours in Law from the University of Melbourne in 1954.

He was admitted to legal practice in 1955 and signed the Bar Roll in 1958. Frank was a member of the Bar Council between 1968 and 1982 and held honorary positions and sat on numerous committees and sub-committees.

Frank appeared in different jurisdictions mainly in criminal and common-law cases. His first criminal case, the Victorian Bar recalled, as a QC involved a difficult full-court appeal.

As a judge, he presided over many common law and criminal jury trials and loved the law.

On November 22, 1977 Frank was appointed Silk and on March 10, 1982 he was appointed a Judge of the County Court of Victoria until his retirement from the Court on January 31, 2003. He returned to the Court and sat as an Acting Judge until the age of 75.

Frank’s memoir, Splints to Silk.

He was the chairman of the Police Board for many years and was made a life member upon his retirement from the Board.

He was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List for service to the judiciary and the administration of justice in Victoria, and to the community through a range of church, social support, youth and sporting organisations.

Frank Walsh, seated, at the opening of the Walsh Chambers in Geelong, in 2018.

Frank penned his own memoir, Splints to Silk, and in 2018, Geelong’s barristers chambers were named the Walsh Chambers in honour of the retired County Court judge.

He married Mary Busch in 1961 and together, they had five sons and four daughters. Mary sadly passed away in 2018 and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, children Anne, Peter, Matthew (a current member of the Victorian Bar and South Australian Bar), Andrew, Therese, Simon, Fiona, Veronica and James, and 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild, based in Victoria, New South Wales and Singapore.

Frank Walsh, pictured in his matriculation class, at SPC in 1948.

An extended tribute to Frank’s work has been published by the Victorian Bar and can be read here
and to read his daughter Anne’s tribute, click here