Frederick Percy Kean – A Man of His District

Honouring an amazing life. Our mothers were sisters. Phyllis Cadman and Hilda Kean.

Born in Parramatta 14th January 1926. Percy started school at Arcadia Public School. He was the first student at the newly opened Berrilee Public School.

Percy went to high school at Hornsby, then to Hurlstone Agricultural College – a selective high school. He return to the farm at age 15. This was 100 acres mostly under cultivation, being the leading citrus orchard and poultry farm of the district.

Percy was an extremely hard worker morning to night. Even on Christmas Day. As a child I remember, shortly after a massive Christmas lunch at the Kean’s, Percy was off collecting eggs, and we did not see him for the rest of the day. The girls tell stories of sitting in the old Dodge truck on Sunday nights, keeping their dad awake whilst taking a huge load of fruit to the Haymarkets. Capable, creative, dynamic are the words I would use to describe Percy Kean at work.

In the community, he was a leader, and followed the leadership of his father Fred Kean. President of the P&C at the Berrilee School, committee member of the Arcadia School of Arts, and trustee of the Arcadia Methodist Church. The Kean family are natural leaders and the farm’s situation towards the end of Calabash Road made it almost automatic that Percy should become Captain of the Arcadia Fire Brigade for 20 Years and Group Captain Hornsby Shire. I am told that he went to his first fire as a youngster so he knew every dangerous fire condition, wind shift gully, ridge and fire trail.

Later on he became a volunteer bus driver and maintenance officer for the Community Aid and Information Service and Disaster Welfare Officer. It does not surprise me that a number of significant Hornsby identities wanted him to stand as a Councillor for Hornsby Shire. Percy did not see that as he is role.

He loved sport. He was a fast bowler for Arcadia Cricket Club and the Kean’s tennis court was always, day and night, a favourite spot for locals and Percy in particular.

What about family? They all say he was always fun. As an example, he told his younger sister, Frida that the name of the new local teacher was Harry Idiot not Harry Elliott. Mr Elliott was quite surprised to be given that new name by the unsuspecting Frida but suggested Frida compromise by calling him just Harry.

Percy loved his family intensely, with his wife Betty at his side. Betty grew up in Canowindra. They met on 20th April, 1947 and were engaged on 28th May 1947. Love at first sight!

They married 18 months later, as Betty felt she needed to make her own decision about who she married and need to wait until she was 21 and did not need her father’s permission. She turned 21 on Wednesday, l5th September, 1948-they married the following Saturdayjust 3 days later. And that is the story of their life togetherabsolutely devoted.

As Percy went off to hospital just a few days ago he said “it has taken 69 years for them to separate us”. Percy would drive Betty to the Sydney Opera House (she loved opera and had a season ticket). He knew the attendants at the Opera House and they had a parking spot for him. He had blankets and a pillow and would wait until the performance was almost finished when they would alert him and he would drive round to pick Betty up and drive her back home.

He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

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