I have just re-read the obituary I wrote for Dot Porter, who died back in June, 2010 and now I find it’s my sad duty to write something for her dearly loved husband, Ivor.
Ivor had already been part of the theatre since its inception when I met him in 1949. I think he and Dot were already engaged to be married and he was always there – either onstage as an actor or working behind the scenes, backstage or on committee – eventually becoming an extremely valuable treasurer for many, many years.
In 1951 Dot and Ivor were married, four weeks after a production of “This Happy Breed” in which they had played the roles of the sweethearts, Billy and Queenie. From that day they were a team. They had three children, David, Ian and Bettina and, like all of us during those early years, the children became part of the theatre family.
When the WLT found itself homeless in 1965 and we at last found a possible home at ‘the bakery’ in Albert Street, Ivor was our treasurer. He and the committee spent long hours discussing the possibility of taking on the huge task of actually buying a property. How would we pay for it? Could we take on such a debt? Negotiations went on between the committee and the very co-operative owners and eventually, the decision was made – we would do it!
A special committee was set up to manage the process and for many years Ivor was the man in charge of finances. He kept an extremely close eye on everything to make sure we were paying our way, not overspending, and making proper provision for the future. He wasn’t always the most popular person when he asked difficult questions about the money we wanted to spend on a production – but that never stopped him from asking them!
As the theatre grew – and the older members grew older! – committee work was taken over by younger members and Ivor was able to step back from that responsibility. However, he continued to help in any way possible and he and Dot were always present at almost every show and our Annual General Meetings.
They were both presented with Life Membership for their service to the theatre and, in 2006, they accepted the roles of Matron and Patron of the theatre’s 60th Anniversary Celebrations where they attended every function held during that gala year.
After Ivor lost Dot in 2010, he was obviously lonely but we still continued to see him at every production. A group of about 15 of us ‘Golden Oldies’ go to the theatre on the second Thursday of each show and our evening out always begins with a dinner. Ivor has been a regular member of that group and is always happy to meet with old mates. From my memory, his last dinner with us was also celebrating Joan Lindsay’s 80th birthday in July this year and we have lovely photos of Ivor on that occasion. We all go back a very long way!
This story of Ivor is only a small part of his life and I can’t give you all the details of his other interests. I seem to remember him doing many years of night school, with a young family at home, to gain his accountancy qualification. He and Dot bought shares in Sunday Island, off the Gippsland coast, where the family would spend holidays close to nature in a tent or cabin. As a Signalman with the RN and a D-Day survivor, in recent years he took part in trips to France and marched almost every Anzac Day. His friendships were wide ranging and in his later years, he would relate stories from old wartime mates.
We’ll miss Ivor at our dinners but I’m quite sure that if it’s at all possible, he and Dot are at last together again.