The induction of Desmond Purdon (Class of 1942) into the Assumption College Cricketers of the Century team in 2018 was not only a celebration for himself and his family, but for all those who knew the man who had a significant impact at the College and the Kilmore community.
His recent passing in March 2020 at age 95 saw all who loved him farewell a man who leaves a legacy of commitment and love.
Des was born in Korong Vale, a small rural town in north western Victoria, to Samuel and Kathleen Purdon. He was the loved youngest brother of Frederick, Francis, Albert and Ann. He spent his early childhood years growing up in another small town Charlton, on the Avoca River where he attended St. Joseph’s Primary School and later boarded in Bendigo and was a student at the Marist Brothers’ College for a time before boarding at Assumption College.
Des attended Assumption College from 1940 - 1942 and was described by College legend Ray Carroll as “a gifted all-rounder, a powerhouse in College cricket and football and athletics in the early 1940s and later in country cricket and football.” He is enshrined on the ‘Honour Board’ as Captain of the School XI and Champion Athlete in 1942. Des was also inducted to the ACK Pavilion of Honour in 2004.
Des himself recalled his time as a boarder at the College as one he loved where boarders really bonded and were all great mates.
A brief stint at the seminary in Werribee upon graduation was enough to prove to Des that was not his calling in life, with him returning to Melbourne to join the police force, then transferring to Bendigo. Never far from a sporting field or court, Des met his future bride Catherine, or Maxie as she is known, at the local tennis club and they were wed on February 11th 1950 at the Bendigo Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Stationed in Kilmore after the wedding, the pair became an integral part of the community. Both were heavily involved in town life, playing tennis and were members of the Trotting Club and the local cross country horse racing community.
A career police officer for 38 years, he is well remembered for his time on the force in Kilmore, the family both he and Maxie raised and the care and commitment he displayed to all who knew him.
His sporting feats are well remembered in the record books at ACK and beyond, but by far his greatest legacy is his family. A beloved husband, immensely proud father of six, grandfather of twelve, great grandfather of nine and a great great grandfather to one. The love within this family was shown at the Assumption College’s 125th anniversary gala dinner in October 2018 where Maxie took his place on stage to accept his induction as a Cricketer of the Century.
While unable to attend himself, Des was able to film a message of thanks played to the packed ball room which also included some of his children and grandchildren.
A man of strength and standing, Des is remembered as a family man, a dedicated community member and a stalwart of the Assumption College spirit.