Second World War veteran Bruce Neal of Mulwala, who gave so many speeches to thousands of school children in Yarrawonga and Mulwala about Anzac Day, died on February 8 at the age of 96 years.
A memorial service was hosted by the Venerable Neil Hicks of St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church in Yarrawonga last Friday at 2:00 p.m., ending at 3:00 p.m. with a flyover organized by Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch over Kennedy Park in in front of the church.
Wonderful tributes were paid by daughter Sue, sons Rob and Andrew and eldest granddaughter Bianca. Bruce and Joy moved to Mulwala 35 years ago.
“It’s a wonderful community and Bruce has had widespread involvement,” Rob said. This involvement included Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch and Men’s Probus where he was made a life member of both organisations, Mulwala Progress Association and St Andrew’s By the Lake Anglican Church Mulwala.
“He had a sense of humor. He was a giver and had all the right qualities in the buckets,” Rob said.
Andrew thanked everyone who knew his father and singled out Wandoo Court neighbors Judy and Peter Barlow for their wonderful friendship, especially Peter’s jobs in the house for many years, and carer Candy Hammond for her excellent aid.
Sue mentioned raising the children in Melbourne, describing her father as “an exceptional and incredible father” who showered all of his children and grandchildren with so much love.
“At school he enjoyed sports, especially football and cricket.” This footballing ability saw him play a handful of games at the highest level in Australia, with Hawthorn. “Bruce was at AWA radio for 42 years, becoming Victoria State manager,” Sue said.
Prof Hicks said his more recent relationship with Bruce and other parishioners had sadly and sadly been curtailed in person due to Covid restrictions and recalled phone calls Bruce made at that time. “Father Neil, it’s Bruce Neal here!” he would start.
“Bruce was generous, loving, caring and fought for causes. He would be hurt. It was only very recently that he wrote to the Prime Minister asking for water from Lake Argyle (WA) to provide enough water for all of southern Australia. He donated to the Fred Holland Foundation. It’s good to be passionate about good things. His love for God shined.
An RSL service was conducted by Sub-Branch President John Burn who described Bruce’s war history. This included enlistment in the Royal Australian Air Force on June 18, 1943, employed as an air gunner, and on discharge on December 12, 1945, as a flight sergeant.
The highly decorated war veteran loved educating students on Anzac Day and the students learned so much from Bruce. For many years he imparted substantial knowledge to students in Victoria.
Bruce’s wife Joy died in 2015 aged 88, at the equally well-attended funeral at St Cuthbert’s Church. Joy was a brilliant golfer, the president and seven-time women’s club champion at Riversdale Golf Club. In 2017, she was posthumously named a Riversdale Golf Legend.
Joy and Bruce were acclaimed performers on the Yarrawonga City Hall Grand Stage with the Allegro Theater Company Yarrawonga. Joy was also a leading figure in the ecumenical choir Yarrawonga Mulwala.
Five Cessnas, led by a Cessna Bird Dog, flew over Kennedy Park as a sign of respect to Bruce. Flyover pilot John Williams at Tocumwal described Bruce as “a charming old man” whose company was enjoyed by all aviation pilots.
“He trained as a pilot in Narrandera and came back to Tocumwal. We took Bruce on several trips at the end of his life to bring back memories. He loved them.
Following the funeral service by Yarrawonga Mulwala Funeral Services, mourners recalled fond memories of Bruce Harley Neal over refreshments at ClubMulwala.