TRIBUTE TO CHARLIE KENSEY
Mrs BARBARA PERRY
(Auburn) [6.44 p.m.]: Tonight I pay tribute to the life of Charles Kensey. I called him Charlie but many people affectionately called him Chicka. Charlie passed away on 3 October 2011 and the loss to all who know him is great. I have driven past the church Charlie attended, St Peter Chanel, Berala, quite regularly, both before and after his death. Since his death I am reminded when I drive past of how much I and many others will miss him. Before Charlie died he was an integral part of the church and I would often see him in the morning at the front of the church sweeping the porch and doing some maintenance. I would wind down the car window and yell out to him and make a joke, often at his expense, and he would yell back and say, "Oh, off with you, Barbara." I can hear him saying those words still. I am going to miss that very much.
Charlie contributed to his community in many ways, always quietly and without fanfare, and he had an acute awareness of the needs of others. He had a strong but quiet faith and lived by example his firm belief that you should use your gifts and abilities for the benefit of those around you, especially those who have less than you. He was wonderful with his hands and the parish of St Peter Chanel, Berala is grateful for his carpentry skills. He made a beautiful candelabra and a number of other ornaments that are placed in the sanctuary area. At his funeral his children delivered a beautiful eulogy and reminded us of his antics in the backyard, where he made a seesaw for the family. That was obviously enjoyed by many of the kids, sometimes to the consternation of their parents. That amused many in the church at his funeral.
Charlie was an integral part of the Regents Park-Berala community where he set up home on 2 May 1946 with his beautiful wife, Kath. He lived there all his married life and served that community for 65 years. He was integral to the establishment of Berala Credit Union in the 1950s, which enabled many to access financial resources that they would not have been able to borrow from other financial institutions. Charlie was a lifelong member of the Labor Party, and a life member, and embodied the very best of what Labor stands for. At the last election Charlie handed out how-to-vote cards at the Berala booth for me. He was really sick but he stood there all day. I am so grateful for his steadfastness and support. I rang him in the last weeks of his life when he was in hospital. He was very unwell and could hardly talk. Ever the gentleman, he said to me with much difficulty, "Thanks for ringing me, Barbara." That was the last time I spoke to him.
As I said, he was wonderful at building things, but Charlie built so much more than physical things such as the candelabra and the children's play equipment in his backyard; he was part of building a wonderful family. He had children who knew they were loved and cherished. He was part of building the community at Berala and an integral member of his church, his parish, and the Labor Party. I say to this House that what he built lives on. One of the most beautiful things his children said about him in the eulogy was Brian's comment about his mum and dad: "We would like to thank Dad and Mum for showing us that two people can live together, stay together and love for 68 years. All of us who are married know that we have good times and not so good times, as we are sure they did." I think that is a fitting tribute to his parents, Charlie and Kath. I conclude with the words of St Augustine, who said:
Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.
At heart Charlie was a humble man but he was a man of great depth and character. He was as solid as a rock. He spent his time looking outside himself. I pass my sincere condolences to his wife, Kath, his children and their spouses—Margaret and Terry, Robert and Chris, Brian and Debbie, Mary and Scott—and all his grandchildren, whom he loved so much. I am grateful that I knew Charlie Kensey and for all that I learnt from his example.