Leo Heman Abel EATHER 1906-1994
On 18 February 1994, one of the best known of the 20th century Eathers passed away at Sydney.
At a time when the decendants of Thomas and Elizabeth were down to the 10th generation, Leo held the unique position in the Eather family of being the last of the third generation descendants. He was born on the 24 August 1906, the youngest of the five children of William Abel Eather 1855-1917 and his wife Cecilia Ruth nee VILE. William was the youngest son of James Eather and Mary Ann nee HAND. Leo was the last born of approximately 540 great-grandchildren and for the last eight years of his life was their only surviving great-grandchild. His passing saw the end of an era, which began in 1831 when their first great-grand child was born.
As a young man Leo trained to be an engineer and proved not only to be gifted and talented, but an ingenious designer. At the beginning of world war II he was in charge of highly secretive work for the Australian Air Force, manufacturing carburettors for aeroplanes. It was a mammoth task, as the equipment to extrude parts came from the United States and delivery was sometimes haphazard under wartime conditions. It was at times such as this that his ingenuity proved invaluable. Soon after the outbreak of war Leo tried to enlist in the armed forces but was refused because his skills and knowlege were more valuable in the essential industry in which he was employed.
During his engineering days he was highly commended by the Safety First Council for his expertise in designing safety devices for factory machines and tool shops. His contribution in this field has saved many workers from serious accidents. However Leo didn't remain in the field of engineering throughout his working life. From his boyhood days he had been interested in the evolution taking place in the cinema and he used to dream of having a cinema of his own. Eventually he did have his own movie theatre and conducted business for many years at Pendle Hill.
In August 1937 he married Joan SLATER, and subsequently two daughters, Doreen Rosemary (1940) and Wendy Joan (1942) were born. In the 1960s Leo became interested in his family history and made a trip to the north-west, seeking information on his grandfather and relatives who had lived in that region. During his travels he met another pioneer of Eather history research, the late Sister Augustine Cahill. He became interested in the efforts of Errol Lea-Scarlett to research the history of the Eather family and was one of the original subscribers to the Eather Family Newsletter when it was launched in december 1973. With the assistance of Joan, he organised the first Eather Family Reunion, which was held at Parramatta Park and Wilberforce on 19&20 March 1977. The occasion was outstandingly successful with an attendance of about 400, and from it sprang the Eather Family Committee, of which he became the patron. He was a familiar figure at all subsequent reunions until 1992 and became a well-known and friendly personality to the hundreds of Eather decendants and their relatives and friends who attended these gatherings over the years.
He had a keen interest in the people and cultures of other countries, and with Joan he travelled extensively both within Australia and overseas. During one visit to England in 1974 he went down to Maidstone in Kent to see the town where his great-grandfather had been tried and sentenced in March 1788, in the prelude to his voyage to New South Wales.
In the 1960s Leo suffered his first serious heart problem and thereafter sometimes suffered from indifferent health, but he displayed a strong will to live and survived for another thirty years to reach the fine age of 87. For many years he and Joan resided at 101 Pendle Way at Pendle Hill, but eventually they moved to "Marlborough Gardens" in Addison Road, Manly,and there he spent his twilight years. He was very devoted to Joan and his children and grandchildren, and in return received a great affection from all of his family. He was a talented man with a great sense of humourand very much admired by all of his friends.
Leo went to his last rest on a grassy hillside in the cemetery at French's Forrest, following a service in St,Matthews church, Manly.His pall bearers were his five grandsons, Lee and Gregory Dalton, Murray, Glen and Jules Barnes.
Much of what's written here is taken from the address given on that day by his son-in-law, David Dalton.
* and yes! it is Heman not Herman