Great Uncle Doug


Douglas Hill McConnell pictured here with my Dad, Mum and sister Julie was the last remaining brother of my Father’s Father.  He was born in January 1915 and lived to the ripe of age of 97 keeping well physically and his mental faculties until right near the end.

We buried him this week, and I got to read a poem my father wrote about him at the service and to be a pall bearer.  May I just say coffins are heavy, and there is nothing like that scary moment when you think you are going to fall into the hole along with the coffin.

Several people at the funeral mentioned to me his physical strength, his strong sense of wrong and right and his genuine interest in people.  He devoted his life to his church, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooneyites.  He was a conscientious objector during the second world war, and spent time in prison for his beliefs.  3 of his brothers fought in the war, but the family still remained close, which I can’t imagine was always easy.

My father always felt he was the toughest and most aggressive of the family and was amazed at how he managed to become a pacifist.  But to some ways it makes sense as you do have to be incredibly tough to follow your beliefs through to the lengths he did.

I remember him as a bright engaging character with a great ability to engage with and converse with people. I still probably would have shut the door on him though if he had tried to come and preach to me though 🙂  But to be fair he was just happy to spend time with his family and didn’t try to preach – in his 90’s anyway

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Anyway here is the poem that Dad wrote about him.  Doug was a keen boxer and one time he showed Dad his boxing moves and reminisced about going a round or two for a pound or two.  (I think Mum thought he was mad)

Douglas the Preacher

Just five foot eight, sort of square and straight

But he’d look the biggest man right in the eye

And the world seemed great when he was your mate

And now I’ll try and tell you why

You see he would go a round or two for a pound or two

He’d fight a few more rounds for free

You’ve got a bad horse to shoe, a big job to do

He’d say you can count on me

From the old gum fields and his fighting shield

Was to hit them first and hard

You may have seen him bleed, but you never saw him yield

At the boxing game he starred

Keep your hands up high, try and work out why

And even now it seems quite strange

But from men who wouldn’t lie, with integrity money couldn’t buy

He would learn a creed that would make him change

From an old bush camp he would carry a pacifist lamp

And it would shine for ever more

And there’s an old boxing champ in a conchie camp

He was right there through the war

Now I heard him preach and I heard him teach

Of the man from the Galilee

Saw his dark hair bleach, knew he would never reach

All that he wanted to in me

Just five foot eight sort of square and straight

But he’d look the biggest man right in the eye

And the world seemed great when he was your mate

And again I’ll try to tell you why

You see he would go a round or two for a pound or two

He’d fight a few more rounds for free

Then he fount the Lords work to do and he’s seeing it through

And he’s always been something of a hero to me

Written by my father William Wallace McConnell

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