Farewell Fred | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Farewell Fred

State funeral of Prof Fred Hollows. Photo: Ross Schultz/Newspix

State funeral of Prof Fred Hollows. Photo: Ross Schultz/Newspix

“Fred was many things to many people – a husband, a father, a friend, a skilled ophthalmologist and for a few politicians and bureaucrats, an irritating thorn in their side. But above all else he was a humanitarian, which made him a terrific doctor. He truly believed it was the role of a doctor to serve, to help those in need,” says Gabi  Hollows.

Pallbearers carry Fred's casket on to a plane that will carry the professor to Bourke for burial. Photo: Oliver StreweFred died in his home on February 10, 1993. He was 63.

On 17 February 1993, an official state funeral was held at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. In accordance with his own wishes, Fred was then laid to rest in Bourke, where the red dirt and mulgas (a small native tree) signal the start of the outback, which he loved so much.

Family and friends gathered in Bourke to farewell him. After first visiting the Aboriginal Medical Service, Fred's procession travelled through town to ‘Kinchela', a property just outside of Bourke, where everyone shared their memories and stories at a wake hosted by locals Malcolm and Jan Fraser, and Ian and Merle Fraser.

A moving service was conducted at Fred's graveside in Bourke Cemetery by renowned ophthalmologist and Sacred Heart priest, Father Frank Flynn, and Jesuit priest Father Frank Brennan.

Fred was buried with his glasses, a bottle of whisky, letters from some of his children, sawdust from his workshop, his pipe and a tin of tobacco. His coffin was draped with a pall which was lovingly hand painted by the people of Enngonia (a tiny village near the Queensland border).

Fred's grave site is surrounded by beautiful native trees and encircled by boulders from nearby Mt Oxley which are laid out in the shape of an eye.

The new sculpture on Fred's grave. Photo: Andrew BuismanIn February 2006, the original gravestone was replaced with a new granite sculpture, commissioned by the Hollows family and created by Austrian sculptor Andreas Buisman. It was erected with the generous support of friends, the Bourke Shire Council and local community.

On 17 February 2006, on the 13th anniversary of Fred's burial, Gabi Hollows joined more than 150 family, friends and locals at a dedication ceremony at Fred's graveside in Bourke Cemetery to unveil the new monument.

he sculpture is a fitting tribute, capturing the many aspects of his personality - particularly his love of nature, the outdoors and climbing. The Hollows' family invite visitors to touch and feel the rock, to climb on it, or sit peacefully and contemplate life.

For them, the polished surface of this new installation is reminiscent of the surface of those small medical marvels, pieces of clinical grade perspex called intraocular lenses. IOLs replace the natural damaged lens of the eye and restore sight to those living with cataract blindness.

A smoking ceremony by members of the indigenous community and a re-dedication by Father Brennan, with speeches from Gabi and family and friends were a fitting tribute to Fred, with the new sculpture bringing new life to his final resting place.

What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.


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