In memory and funeral service - Frank Henagan

With much sadness, the College wishes to announce the death of our much-respected and indeed beloved Porter Emeritus and former Director of Sport Frank Henagan, after a short illness.

Frank had been admitted to the Epworth Hospital just before Christmas, in anticipation of some surgery related to circulation problems with his toes. He had a stroke on New Year’s Eve, and while he remained in sound mind and good spirits, and without pain, it was soon clear he would be physically compromised and likely to face other complications from the damage done.

Until this past Sunday he was having at least some conversations with his visitors, and of course enjoying the cricket. In the evening he took a turn for the worse, and did not really return to consciousness.

Among a number of Trinity people who visited and offered support, we gratefully acknowledge Fellow of the College Dr MR 'Taffy' Jones, who as Frank’s formal next-of-kin as well as a medical practitioner by background was a great support to Frank and his friends.

Frank Patrick Henagan was born in Adelaide on 28 November 1933. He moved to Melbourne in 1937 when he was adopted by a couple whom he later discovered to be his grandparents. After completion of his Matriculation at Parade College, Frank was accepted into RMIT to study engineering despite his dream of being a Physical Education teacher. Following a bout of ill health that saw him relocate to Mildura for a number of years, Frank returned to Melbourne and became a qualified greenkeeper. 

In 1976, while he was working at Port Melbourne Council, Frank’s life – and that of the College – took a seismic change. In Frank’s words:

"Oh, how I got to work at Trinity, I used to train Uni Blues Tuesday and Thursday. I used to go over to Naughton’s (and) Justin Cook and Rod Lyle (were) students when I first started there. And the place was in a mess. And they always knew I worked on Port Melbourne Council as a gardener and they began saying I should put in for the job as gardener, and they kept at me. So Alan Todd was the bursar. So I went and saw him one day, and he said, what do you think of this then, the gardening job? I said, yes and no. I told him where I was working. He said ... well, he said, I'll put you on ... you've got the job."

Nearly 38 years later, Frank still had the job right up to the end. Over time, he was the groundkeeper, verger, porter and that bloke who helped as a waiter during formal dinners. Most importantly, he was the football and athletics coach and mentor, friend and confidant for so much of the College.

Outside of Trinity, Frank’s sporting achievements have made him a legend in his own lifetime with so many sporting associations. He was a life member of many including the University Football and Cricket Clubs and the Sports Union. In addition, Frank was a champion middle distance runner who was a member of the Australian training squad for the 1956 Olympics and who was the pacemaker for Merv Lincoln when he became the third man to break the four minute mile in 1956.

Recent years have seen a true celebration of Frank’s life and have given the College community the opportunity to demonstrate what he meant to them. As Taffy wrote in the foreword to Frank’s memoirs:

"One of Frank’s great strengths is that it does not matter to him whether his friendship has been needed by the Warden of the time (and they have all appreciated just how wise it was to have Frank not only as an adviser but more importantly as a friend), or by a student in need; help, advice and friendship have always been his trademark. This has been given most generously and has extended into those times and circumstances when most of us would have shirked doing what was needed."

Frank turned 80 in November last year, a few weeks after a gala celebration of his milestone at the MCG. He has been one of the great figures of College life for close to 40 years, and it is very hard to imagine Trinity without him.


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Category: People