Editor’s Note: I worked closely at times over the last few decades with Ps Eric Trezise. He was the equivalent of an army chaplain in Vietnam and spent his life in service of others. More importantly, in service of his Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The story of Eric’s life (1930 – 2021) could fill several books. He was awarded an OAM in 2001 for his successful work in youth suicide prevention. Eric Trezise wrote 6 books on grief counselling and suicide prevention. In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Governor General for his pioneering work to reduce and prevent men’s suicide.
Suffice to say, Eric was a prince amongst men, who would vigorously deny the title. Who better to give him the tribute he deserves than his son Roger (Skip) Trezise? Read Roger’s funeral speech below.
Welcome everybody to my father Eric Trezise’s funeral, here at the Presbyterian church, this Friday the 19 March, 2021 in Wollongong. Thank you all so much for coming to pay your last respects to ERIC… my father… whom I affectionately called DA. How can I fit 55 years of my life with my dad in less than 5 mins? Let’s see if we can do it.
Ps Eric Trezise Speaking at International Men’s Day Celebration Parliament House Sydney 19 November 2009.
To start with, I’m only here because of my Da, and dear Ma had a part to play in it of course, but I’m here because of my Da, and also strangely, but interestingly dressed this way because of him… You see, I received a phone call Monday week ago from my brother Graham, that Da was extremely unwell in hospital, and I should hot-foot it down here to see him. Things sounded grim.
So having turned up here in Wollongong, Da began getting ever so slightly better every day.
He’s done this kind of thing before, bouncing back from nasty things. So, thinking he would bounce back… I didn’t pack a suit. So this suit… in fact all of my attire, is Da’s clothing. And I am very proud to be wearing them today.
I have very little memory of my Da until roughly the age of 6, when he returned from the conflict in Vietnam in 1971. I believe that I wanted to get to know him, but for a while, maybe years, I feared him more than I loved him.
Other kids were close to their fathers and I wanted to be, but he was awful regimented in his ways, and that came across to a boy as an angry killer of joy and freedoms. But what understanding does a boy have of Post-Traumatic Stress?
The years between boyhood and adolescence were testing and trying, because apparently, I was not the perfect child I thought I was, but it was in those years, I guess, most notably leaving Sydney behind, moving to the farm and living in the Bathurst area, I saw my father change because I felt life for our family had taken a completely different course, and it seemed a much, much better one.
I began to see a different man in my father. One who seemed to be happier and energised, because he had a vision. A divine one.
He was a visionary. An ideas man. Sometimes incredibly positive and uplifting. I started to really love, respect and be proud of my Da.
He, with help from a small band of believers created Liberty Ranch, among other ventures. He had a passion to lead and guide the youth and young adults of Bathurst to the teachings and the wonderful love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
My father had come alive and it was exciting, and I think the young people and the belief in the adventure and God’s hand in it, spurred it on. That time was one of my greatest memories of my Da. But the most notable memory throughout my life was his lovely deep, rich, singing voice in the bass/baritone range. His harmonies were glorious, his vibrato lovely, his range and volume just wonderful. And when he and Ma, a lovely alto, sang together, it felt like the world stopped just to listen.
Whether Da sang out of the blue and Ma joined in, or vice versa, or they sang along to a musical on TV, or I had the simple joy of standing with them in church as they unashamedly sang beautifully with a volume that seemed to drown everyone else out. Of Da singing solo on stage to a congregation, or leading singing at those fantastic open-air meetings with the different coloured light globes, or both of them in a quiet backyard with just myself sitting quietly and my 9 year old daughter applauding in approval when they finished. I loved it so much and enjoyed every note. That’s gone forever now, and I miss that very much.
My father made a lot of friends and some very special ones, and I don’t believe that it was all that hard to do so. I learnt from Da something very special, which I’m grateful for, and intend to improve on, and that is his seemingly natural ability and desire to converse with people.
Be it about the weather, Christ’s free gift of salvation or most topics in between, he could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. He could talk their ears off, but more importantly, genuinely listen to them.
I remember Ma over the years saying, “Where is your father now?”
“He’s still chatting with someone”, I’d say. He was genuinely interested in people and had a love for them, which I believe was because God first loved him, and he understood that love and strived to be Christ-like.
I love him for being that person. I’m so proud of him for being that man. Proud to be his son.
I’ll finish with this:
My Da, and Ma, always inspired good, positive and useful thinking in me. Their lives and their love highlighted just what a dark and awful mess this world is in, and my life could also be in, without the strong and fervent belief and faith in Christ, and Da’s desire for not just a functioning family unit, but a family full of the love that Jesus offers and two strong earthly foundations, my Ma and my Da.
I’d like to think that in Da’s last moments on earth, the Lord Jesus held him close and said, “You fought the good fight. Now it’s time to rest and Dee’s waiting for you. Come home Eric.”
And from Phi 1:21 ~
“Only one life ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
To me to live is Christ.”