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Anne Brooks' Ancestry

John Kenneth CROWTHER

Male 1924 - 2018  (93 years)


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  • Name John Kenneth CROWTHER  [1
    Born 24 Aug 1924  Malaysia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Died 2 Mar 2018  Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    • (Living names removed)
      (Family remembers 'gentleman and scholar' John CROWTHER.
      4th Jun 2018 5:00 AM

      John Kenneth CROWTHER was "a gentleman and a scholar, musician, multi-linguist, raconteur, courageous family man, world traveller and old-school hard bastard", according to his family. These descriptions along with many others form his story of life from August 24, 1924, to March 2, 2018.

      John was born of English parents of naval families, from Portsmouth England in a small hospital in Batu Gaja Malaya, where his father, a rubber planter and his mother, a lyrical soprano, lived for the first eight years of John's life.

      Here, he and his younger sister Patricia went to school with Malay and Chinese children, were looked after by their Chinese Amah, and generally enjoyed life with pets that ranged from a baby elephant, a deer called Binki and even for a short while a tiger cub.

      The family moved back to England when John was eight, where he attended school in Ealing and later Lancing College in West Sussex. During these years he made life-long friends, began learning the violin and developed his love of choir singing and the outdoors.

      John may have also acquired his renowned frugality during this time when he discovered that he could spend his pay from being a choir boy on broken chocolate bars which were cheaper than the whole ones.

      After his school years John joined the Navy where he trained as an aeronautical engineer before being posted to India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

      The lure of excitement, independence and the opportunity to farm saw John head to Kenya after the war, where he eventually managed a coffee plantation and dairy stud.

      He loved the countryside, the wildlife (except for the occasional leopard encounter and destructive elephant or baboon), the people and the climate. He enjoyed working alongside his farmworkers - nicknamed "The naked one" as he had never heard of skin cancer and never wore a shirt; and established great camaraderie with fellow rugby players.

      It was in Kenya in 1953 (when hospitalised with a bout of dysentery) that he met and married his lifelong bride Alice Mary GRENE, an Irish midwife (now deceased) and raised their family for the first 10 years of their marriage.

      In 1964, John and his wife Almary reinvented their lives, courageously deciding to move the family to Australia to dairy farm in near Pottsville; beef farming in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and ending up on a cattle property near Roma. As was usual with his first two farms, the worst property in the area became one of the best - described as a parkland.

      John's lack of care of what others thought of him or how he looked was mortifying for his teenage children at the time - he would wear wide legged khaki shorts held up with baling twine and bright African print shirts to town. His thriftiness would also be a problem to teenage daughters - "You've got a dress, why do you want another one?" However, this later became one more endearing part of his nature to his family.

      The classics, arts and music were an integral part of his life. He took up the violin again at 53, and later the viola which he played with the children of the PCAP program in Roma and then with his music group once retired in Toowoomba, sang in the St Luke's choir, ran a music appreciation group for the U3A and continued to listen to his much-loved classical music tapes and records until very late in his life.

      His love of history meant any question could be asked by his nine grandsons would be answered with an accurate story - many of them continue this interest because of his influence. It also manifested in a strong political manner (he has been described by his Irish great niece as a third-generation activist) where letters to The Chronicle would implore our politicians to use common sense and decision making for the betterment of the community. He could still speak fluent Swahili at 93 some 54 years after leaving Kenya in 1964; and some French, German; and the Malay that he remembered from childhood.

      John is survived by his children, their families, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a plethora of friends and acquaintances who celebrated his life on March 9.
    Notes 
    • John was educated at Lancing College and joined the Navy at the end of the war. He emigrated to Kenya after being demobbed and worked as a coffee planter and farm manager, and married Almary GREENE with whom he had 6 children. Almary died before 2013. [1]
    Person ID I12371  Nosworthy
    Last Modified 14 Dec 2020 

    Father Percy Facey Hunter CROWTHER,   b. 24 Mar 1895, Ceylon Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Mar 1961, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years) 
    Mother Lilian May HAWKINS,   b. Abt 1895,   d. 20 Oct 1950, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 55 years) 
    Married 29 Aug 1923  Portsea, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 5
    • Percy Hunter Facey CROWTHER, age 28, Bachelor, Rubber Planter, residing 142 Bath Rd., Southsea, son of Richard Facey CROWTHER, Deceased, R.N.; married Lilian May HAWKINS, age 28, Spinster, residing 38 Elphinstone Rd., daughter of John HAWKINS, Deceased, R.N. Married after Banns on 29 August 1923 at St. Jude's Church, Parish of Portsea, County of Portsmouth. Witnesses: Herbert Williamson LITHGOW; W. J. HAWKINS; D. M. DALE. Entry # 196.

      Three days after they married, they left for Burma with the stated intention of residing there. [3, 4]
    Address Aft 1923  [1
    • He and his wife lived in Malaysia in a place called Batu Gajah, and had two children.
    Address 1927  [4
    28 Exeter Rd., Southsea, Hampshire 
    • Address when Percy left for Penang on 4 November 1927.
    Address Abt 1932  Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Address 1950  [6
    4 Woodville-gardens, Ealing, Middlesex 
    • Address at the time of Lilian's death on 20 October 1950.
    Family ID F3154  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Alice Mary GRENE,   b. 20 Jan 1921, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Sep 2009, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 88 years) 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
     4. Living
     5. Living
    Last Modified 5 Jan 2019 
    Family ID F3614  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S676] Personal communication.

    2. [S217] Newspaper.

    3. [S490] Marriage Certificate.

    4. [S398] Passenger List.

    5. [S168] England and Wales Registration Index.

    6. [S773] Probate of Will / or Administration (without a will).