The life of Dr Don Chambers

violet town Don ChambersDonald (Don) Chambers was born at Lilydale Bush Nursing Hospital, Victoria on 12 July 1935 to Alan and Hazel Chambers. His life began in nearby North Croydon, a rural eastern suburb of Melbourne, during the Great Depression.

Don was the oldest of seven children. Gordon now lives in Ruffy, Alan (Gerry) lives in Violet Town and Doreen and Stephen both live in Ardmona and so the family still has a close connection to the local area.

Don spent his early pre-school childhood in Croydon and later moved to the country in Euroa and Kelvin View. His primary education was at Euroa State School and Kelvin View Primary School. His secondary education was at Euroa Higher Elementary School through to the last year available at the school, fifth form. He completed his Leaving Certificate by correspondence.

When Don left school he worked at Tehan brothers Avenel Estate, and later worked at his Uncle Harold Godden's farm near Violet Town. Don then completed his National Service at Puckapunyal, operating General Grant Tanks; before moving to northern Queensland, where he learnt to shear sheep. Upon returning to Violet Town he joined the Presbyterian Fellowship Association , and became a regular worshipper at the Violet Town Presbyterian Church. He also joined the Violet Town football team and enjoyed touring different towns in the north east Victoria.

He became interested in further academic study, and in 1960 he moved to Melbourne to complete his matriculation studies with Taylor's Correspondence School. He completed an arts degree before starting a divinity course. He chose to study history and philosophy.

He continued in the honours stream in history studies. Don achieved the History prize in his 4th year (1965), and after completing his MA degree won a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake a divinity degree at Cambridge University beginning in September 1966.

Don began PhD studies on Scottish Church History. Don had a strong interest in the origin and nature of the ideas people brought with them to Victoria in the 19th Century. By studying the disruption of the Scottish church in the 1840s he was able to better understand the positions taken by many of these immigrants.

In 1978 Don was appointed to a teaching position at LaTrobe University, specialising in courses about Religious Studies, British and Australian History.

Don began research on a history of Violet Town. Published by Melbourne University Press, the book was launched by Geoff Serle in 1985. Don continued to write commissioned histories - 11 books in total. He had a number of contracts with the Australian Funeral Directors and over the next ten years wrote several histories including histories of the Melbourne General Cemetery, Springvale Cemetery and Fawkner Cemetery. In addition, he wrote a history of Hailebury College and chapters in Essays of Ormond College.

Don was instrumental in the production of writing the book Carlton: A History edited by Peter Yule. Don also wrote biographies of a scouting leader (Boss Hurst), and Frank Hackett-Jones, and a major work on Wooden Wonders - Victorian Timber Bridges for the National Trust of Victoria. Some of these books were awarded Victorian Community History and Engineering History prizes. Books by Don Chambers

Don was a 'scholar and a gentleman'. He was a man of integrity and wit; and a loving and understanding husband, father, grandfather and friend. In October 2010 he was diagnosed with cancer and died in October 2011. He is survived by his wife Sue, children Zoe and Jonathan and their families.

In his professional life as a scholar he was a great story-teller and found writing history an enormous joy.

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