President, OCRFC - 1974
Dr Alan Herbert Spry was born on 29 October 1927 in Adelaide. He was
educated in Adelaide, completing his Honours degree in geology at the University of
Adelaide. During his University days he had an interest in jazz, becoming a skilled
trombone and guitar player - he played with such prominent musicians as Dave Dalwitz at
jazz conventions - and, more importantly, met Joyce, his wife well-known to us all.
Alan lectured in the Institute of Technology, Armidale, NSW, then spent
15 years in Hobart where he completed his PhD and became an Associate Professor at the
University of Tasmania.
Perhaps more importantly in Hobart, he and Joyce became keenly
interested in rugby. The question has been raised whether it was the sport or the motley
mob that paced the sidelines that attracted them!
Whatever it was they fitted in perfectly - a day at the rugby was
entwined with guzzling Ginger Mick out of flasks and yelling encouragement and abuse at
friend and foe, alike. Also, pies were bought only to keep his and Joyces hands
warm. His love of sport and rugby continued with Old Collegians Rugby Football Club -
considered to be his second home for a very long time by his children.
His passion and frustration with the game and players were experienced
at OC, often with the punctuated outburst of "Gormless nit!" when he believed a
player or the team had committed an indiscretion or was not fully realising their
potential on the field.
Alan was President of the Club in 1974 and put all his efforts into the
well-being of the Club, not only as leader and administrator but also ensuring that menial
tasks were completed. He was First Division team manager and Club selector at various
times. His "hands-on" and diligent approach to the Club spread to his home with
a pyjama party, a raucous chicken and chips night in lieu of an OC Ball in a year when all
the tickets could not be sold (he made a rash promise to that effect!) and a house-warming
party for Club members. The latter resulted in Alan and Joyces new bed being
"hardened" with the surreptitious placement of the metal house-for-sale sign
under the mattress.
Alan and Joyces sporting interests also spread to basketball in
support of their sons, Peter and Paul, both accomplished players. This interest led to the
formation of an OC basketball team that played in a local competition.
Alan and Joyce enjoyed lunching at local restaurants before going to
Saturday matches. During the Finals, such lunches with others were known to go on for some
time - a well-known OC foible. In 1980, the Sprys in their wisdom organised the inaugural
"finals BYO chicken & champagne picnic lunch" for OC supporters at Bailey. A
tradition that ensured supporters made the finals on time and still continues today.
Alan was well known for his sartorial elegance in colourful
tropical-design shirts on the side-line. So much so, that one player saw a tropical shirt
on a hanger behind the bar after a beach night at the Club and drily commented "Gee,
Alan Spry has lost weight lately."
Similar to many a rugby player, Alan had a passion for wine that
culminated in 1995 with a trip to the great wine growing districts of France led by
Phillip White. His determination was heightened by the fact that he had a by-pass
operation six weeks previously - he paced himself by only visiting 1st Growth
wineries in the morning and the obligatory dinner in a French Chateau at night!
Alan was a humble and gentle person in many ways with great talent,
both in his profession and to listen and counsel people. He retired as Chief Consultant
from the Australian Mineral Development Experimental Laboratories in 1980 and continued as
a private consultant on problems of stone in modern and historic buildings. His intellect
and expertise is "set in stones" in many important public and private buildings
in Australia and internationally.
Alan died quietly on 3 April 2001. He will be greatly missed by OC as a
long-standing and supportive member, and for his wise counsel and his some-what emotional
outbursts on the side-line.
However, the Club is privileged with continuing Spry support through
Joyces warm enthusiasm and commitment to the Club, especially to the Juniors as
The Clubs sympathy is extended to Joyce and their children,
Erica, Paul and Peter, and to their families.
(By Peter Allen, 22nd April 2001)
(This obituary was read out at his funeral service.)
Alan Herbert Spry was born on 29th October 1927 in Adelaide, South
Australia. He was the second of the two children of John Duncan Spry and Alice Spry, the
other being his brother John, known as Jack. Alans early years were spent with his
family in Adelaide, attending a number of schools before going on to the University of
Adelaide to study geology. One of Alans early interests was jazz, and he became a
skilled trombone and guitar player. Alan and Jack used to travel to Melbourne by motorbike
every Boxing Day for a jazz convention there, and its known that Alan played with
such prominent musicians as Dave Dalwitz. Joyce remembers Alan saying that if he
hadnt been a geologist he would have like to have been a professional musician.
Joyce and Alan met while Alan was completing his Honours Degree at the university.
Joyce had recently arrived from England and loved ballroom dancing. Alan would take his
books to her lessons and study there so that he could keep an eye on Joyce and
her dancing partner. Eventually he gave her a choice, Ballroom dancing or me,
and Joyce chose Alan! Their first year of marriage was spent in Armidale, New South Wales,
where Alan lectured at the Institute of Technology there. Then it was to Hobart and a
position at the University of Tasmania. This was their home for fifteen years, and in that
time Alan completed his Masters degree and Ph. D., ending as an Associate professor at the
university. Sabbatical years were spent in London (during which Alan wrote
Metamorphic Textures, a standard text for many years), and also at Berkley,
California. Alan and Joyces three children were all born in Hobart, fist Erica, then
Paul, and finally Peter. After two years at Monash University in Melbourne, Alan decided
hed had enough of university students and academia, and the family returned to
Adelaide where Alan had taken a position with the Australian Mineral Development
Experimental Laboratories (AMDEL), a geological and geochemical consulting company. After
twenty years service there, eventually as its chief consultant, Alan retired from AMDEL at
the end of the 1980s to work from home, as his business card says, as a consultant
on problems of stone in modern and historic buildings.
Alan was clearly dedicated to his work and sharply focused on what he undertook. He
loved the field of geology, in which his son Paul followed, both being awarded the
Adelaide Universitys Tate Memorial Medal and James Barrans Scholarship, a unique
father-and-son achievement. Alan gave his all to rugby too, and especially to the Old
Collegians Rugby Club in Adelaide where he served at various times as president, team
manager and selector. Paul and Peters prowess in basketball prompted Alan and Joyce
to take an interest in this sport too. Alans family remember him as a very caring
man, ready to support Joyce in whatever he could. They complemented each other in many
ways - while Joyce excelled at conversation, for example, Alan excelled in the kitchen
(much to the childrens relief!)
In June 2000 Alan was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, and died quietly on
the morning of Tuesday 3rd April 2001 at the Burnleigh Nursing Home, Parkside.
Alan faced his illness with calm dignity, and Joyce and his family supported him with
their loyalty and love. Alan is survived by his wife Joyce, his three children Erica
(Zimbabwe), Paul (Iowa) and Peter (Adelaide), his daughter-in-law Susan, three
grand-children, Daniel (married to Jo), Henry and Amelia, as well as by his brother Jack.
They will miss him dearly.
27th February 1990
Story no. 221408, Pic S771
"Alan Spry. An Adelaide modern master has gone to the rescue of two of
Australia's most important heritage constructions." Alan was approached by the
Tasmanian Main Roads Department and asked for advice regarding the preservation of the
Richmond (1823) & Ross (1836) stone bridges.