VALE MICHAEL COLLINS PERSSE

The following communication was sent to our School community on the morning of Monday 25 June 2018. A mini-site has been created with details for Michael's memorial service, a collection of images, a tributes page and details of the Michael Collins Persse Scholarship.

It is with a heavy heart that I write to advise that Michael Collins Persse MVO OAM died earlier today after a long battle with myeloid leukaemia. He was 86 years old (born on 10 November 1931).

Geelong Grammar School was Michael’s life work. Having graduated from Balliol College, Oxford University, with a Master of Arts (Honours in History and Theology), Michael joined the GGS staff in November 1955. For the next 63 years, Michael served our School community with distinction, becoming a dear friend and mentor to many. He was Head of History for 40 years, edited The Corian from 1966-1992, developed the School’s Archives and was appointed Curator of the School in 1994. To celebrate GGS’s centenary in 1957, he wrote the pageant play, Their Succeeding Race. It was later published as a book; the first of many that Michael authored, co-authored or edited, including Well-Ordered Liberty: A Portrait of Geelong Grammar School, 1855-1995, the first volume of the School’s biographical register Geelong Grammarians, 1855-1913 and In the Light of Eternity: Selected Writings. The Michael Collins Persse Archives Centre was established in 2005, Michael became one of three inaugural Old Geelong Grammarian Fellows in 2006, and he received an Order of Australia Medal in 2017 for his service to education and history.

I first met Michael in January this year. Having corresponded and exchanged books during 2017, the anticipation of meeting this scholarly gentleman brought with it great excitement and nervousness on my part. To my relief and delight, within minutes of each other’s company, we were sharing tea, anecdotes and laughter. I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent time together.

Undoubtedly, our School is blessed to have known Michael’s wisdom and generosity. His boundless loyalty and affection for this community have been stand out qualities, along with his extraordinary gift for connecting with people, and recounting moments and milestones. His contribution to and curation of our School’s story, spirit and character have been remarkable.

There will be a Memorial Service held for Michael at Geelong Grammar School’s Chapel of All Saints, Corio, at 11.00am on Monday 27 August, which will be broadcast live on a dedicated memorial page of our website (www.ggs.vic.edu.au/RememberingMichaelCollinsPersse). There will also be a Memorial Service at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane. For further details and updates regarding the Memorial Services please refer to the website. In the meantime, we shall keep Michael’s family and friends in our thoughts and prayers, and reflect upon his brilliance with fondness and deep gratitude.

Rest in peace beloved Michael: “may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”.

With blessings,

Rebecca Cody
Principal