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australian rowers profiles and history

Deane J R Morgan

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Deane John Robert Morgan – Life Member
7 Dec 1913 - 16 Dec 1987

Above: Deane in the bow seat of the winning 1936 maiden eight at Ballarat

Deane Morgan hailed from Sorrento, where he went to school. He progressed his education further than the local school through correspondence. 

Employed was solely with Carlton & United Breweries, where he commenced at the age 16 and remained for over 40 years.

After joining Mercantile Rowing Club in season 1933-34, he had his first recorded appearance in regatta racing in a maiden eight at Henley in November 1934. He rowed consistently and with varying success in Maiden, Junior and Lightweight events for the next five years when he left, as did so many other Club members, to serve his country. He saw service in both Australia and New Guinea.

Above: Deane with his mates from the Club enjoying the water at Rosebud on the way to Sorrento for the weekend – from the left Jack Jones, Clive Ward, Deane Morgan, Eddie Jones and Peter Hemming. Photographer: Arthur Atkins

Returning from active service in 1945 Deane was immediately back with the Club and rowed for some seasons in Junior crews. But it was in the administration of the Club and of rowing that Deane made his major contribution and from which he derived much enjoyment and well deserved satisfaction. He had been on the Club Committee briefly before the war and was elected again in 1946, serving continuously until 1964. He was Captain from 1947 to 1951, a period of great expansion in membership and success on the water.

Letter to Deane from Frank Newport on his election to the Committee in 1938

Deane had the perfect job for a person of his personality, he was the sales representative/relationship manager of Carlton & United Breweries. He knew every publican in Victoria and had to visit them all. Between Deane and fellow Club member Mick Williams, a director of Richmond Breweries, they were always able to find beer in the post war beer shortages.

Deane was on the V.R.A. Committee for a number of years, first as the Club’s delegate, and then as an Executive member from 1951 until 1962. Apart from his contribution to the Club and to the Association, Deane was also active in Regatta organisation as secretary of the Upper Yarra Regatta Committee from 1950 -1986 (36 years) and held various administrative roles with the Melbourne Amateur Regatta Association (Henley) from 1954 to his death in 1987 (33 years). He was a mason from 1936 until his death and secretary of the rower's lodge, Lodge Henley for eight years and Grand Lodge Honours were conferred on him in 1985.

He was also heavily involved in the conduct of rowing events in the 1956 Olympic Games as the image below demonstrates.

Above: Deane drawing the heats of the rowing at the 1956 Olympic Regatta – FISA President Gaston Müllegg is seated left had side of the bench and VRA President and club member Mick Williams on the right hand end of the bench, with Club life member Norman Cairnes seated at the table front right.

Deane managed several Victorian teams at the Interstate Regatta and was well known to a wide circle of friends in rowing throughout Australia.

Over many years Deane, Tom Rodda and Ron Richardson travelled to regattas together  (Ron as an Umpire). In 1979 Deane, Ron, Bill White and Bill Waterfield  extended their tours overseas travelling to Bled for the World Championships. Deane was the best man for Ron Richardson at his wedding to Rosemary.

As part of his role as Secretary to Australian Henley, Deane conducted the “Miss Henley” contest. Deane’s “Miss Henley” (Barbara Stewart)  became the first “Moomba Queen”. He successfully brought a great deal of publicity to the regatta.

In recognition of his service to the Club and to rowing Deane was made a Life Member in 1958 and elected a Vice President in 1964.

Above: Deane in his later years on a road trip to the opening of the Westlakes course – from the left Tom Rodda, Deane Morgan and Bill Morrison. Ron Richardson the photographer.

Deane fell to the rowers disease of skin cancer.

Deane’s ashes were poured into the Yarra River at the finish line from a boat stroked by Herb Shears and coxed by Ron Richardson. The boat stopped, Herb stood and then spread the ashes. A posy of flowers were floated into the river from the boat by Ron.

The obituary in the annual report finished as follows: “To those of us who rowed with him, worked with him and enjoyed the relaxations of the Club with him, we will miss him greatly.”

Further details collated at the time of his 65th birthday party in 1978 and updated upon death:

Born: Sorrento Victoria

Educated: Local school in Sorrento and further education by correspondence.

Military Service: WWII in both Australia and New Guinea

Sorrento Lodge:  Initiated 8th Feb 1936 and Master of Lodge 1947

Lodge Henley: Secretary for past 8 years and Grand Lodge Honours conferred in 1985 (P.G.Sw.B.)

Mercantile Rowing Club: Joined 1933 and won first race in 1934, Committee 1946, Captain 1947-50, Life member 1958. (54 year member)

Melbourne Amateur Regatta Committee: Assistant Secxretary 1954-60, Joint secretary 1961-70, Vice-President 1985 to date of death (33 years of service)

Upper Yarra Regatta Association: Secretary 1950-86 (36 years)

Olympic Games 1956 - Administrative official

Rowing Victoria - Team manager 1952 and 1953

Andrew Guerin (based on Deane’s obituary in the 1986-87 Annual Report, a summary prepared by Ron Richardson on the occasion of his 65th birthday and also enhanced with recollections from Rosemary Richardson, Jim Harvey, Arthur Atkins and the author)
October 2018

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