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In loving memory of Richard Smyth

04/11/1937 - 07/12/2022

A Celebration of life for Richard Smyth

Friday 16th December, Northbridge Golf Club 11:00am.

Jackie Trevor, Civil Celebrant.

Entrance music: Hoffstetter, Serenade from String Quartet in F, Op3 No 5(3'31). Played by West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

Poem: The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard. are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand ​the way other people feel. And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.


So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?

Jackie Trevor

Good morning, my name is Jackie Trevor and I am a Civil Celebrant. It is my privilege today to share with you a celebration of the life of Richard Barnsley Smyth.  Born in Timaru, New Zealand to parents Janet and Richard on 4th November 1937- affectionately known to his girls as Dad and to his friends and extended family Dick and Richard. I would like to start by warmly welcoming you here today at Northbridge Golf Club, on the lands of the Camaraigal people, and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and any elders past, present, and emerging.


After the ceremony you are invited to join the family for light refreshments.  Before we continue, just a gentle reminder to turn your phones to silent.


Today is all about Richard, to honour and remember his 85-year life – the sorrows, achievements, joys, and laughter.   Commemorating a life of 85 years - such as Richard’s, a life that has witnessed the course of so many decades  is worthy of special pause and moment in time.  A long life weaves a rich and vibrant tapestry reflecting a wealth of experience whose mark is a special wisdom that enriches us all. The children of the early 1930s presided over an age of unparalleled and extraordinary change.     The world that Richard arrived into, is unrecognisable and infinitely different to the one that we inhabit today.


We've come together to say thank you to Richard for being part of your lives and to recognise and celebrate the special man he was.  Someone who has brought so much, to so many and has been an integral and important part of all of your lives.   


Richard grew up close to his younger brother Colin, at the end of the Great Depression. Their childhood was wild and free: swimming in tarns, picking wild raspberries, blackberries and currants, and shooting rabbits to supplement their meat supply. 


After finishing high school in the NZ Regular Force Cadets, Richard completed his mandatory army service before becoming a Survey Cadet for four years, and qualifying as a Land Surveyor. 


Before he had finished surveying, he also began studying Civil Engineering. After becoming an Engineer, Richard then qualified as a Town planner. Later on in England, he completed an Economics degree, also part-time.  Knowing the value of education, Richard always encouraged and supported his daughters and his friends in their studies.


Richard was a humble, down to earth, hard working, highly intelligent man with a strong moral compass, curious mind and great sense of humour.  He loved nature, the great outdoors and keeping fit.  He was a keen sportsman and adventurer. He competed in cross country running and road running races, and trained with the Rover Scout Harrier club. He took two cycling trips, around the top half (the flat part) and then the bottom half (not the flat part) of the South Island of New Zealand. 


Richard learnt to pilot light planes in his twenties, and continued flying as a member of the Biggen Hill flying club when he first moved to London.  

Jackie Trevor

In Sydney, Richard enjoyed weekly golf games, and also played in New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, and wherever else he got the chance.  


Participating in a rogaining team allowed Richard to exercise his enthusiasm for strategy, endurance, and competition, and his appreciation for the natural environment. He also volunteered and set courses for rogaining events.


Richard enjoyed the Sydney arts scene and was a long term subscriber to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and The Ensemble Theatre, and a supporter of the National Trust.  


Richard travelled extensively throughout his life, and made regular trips to see his daughters.

He visited Mary-Jane and Juan Carlos every second year in Spain, and they went on many road trips including a special trip to the Marin-Yuste family home town of Cieza. On travels through Catalunya, Galicia, and the Basque country, they enjoyed many gastronomic delights (especially the cakes). 


As a regular visitor to Bruny Island where Helen lives, Richard affectionately - or perhaps aptly - called her small hobby farm  “Slave Camp 245”. He participated in any and every task that needed doing. He eliminated an acre of bracken using the push mower, chipped out broom, and split loads of firewood and kindling by hand. He worked enthusiastically on driveway and paddock drainage, fuel reduction raking, retaining wall development, brush cutting, and demolishing an old shack, just to name a few.


Richard visited Jennifer in New Zealand, Queensland, and eventually Melbourne - gaining a new appreciation for the trams and shopping strips in the inner North, and orienting himself by his proximity to organic bakeries. During her Urban Planning degree, he assisted her with a study of the Merri Creek. He was immensely proud of Jen´s artistic ability and had several of her prints in his home.  


Richard lived with Helen for the last chapter of his life, enjoying the antics of the wallabies, pademelons, free ranging hens and goats, with regular visits from wedge tailed eagles, sea eagles, and a little superb fairy wren called Stewart.  We won't mention the tiger snakes!


Richard was an inherently thoughtful person, who showed interest in others, the environment, urban spaces and social justice.  He was a champion of many causes and did not shy away from controversy in his support for what he believed in. He was work focused, successful and a dedicated and supportive father.


Be glad that you were a part of his life, and that he  was a part of yours. Richard would not want you to be sad today as we talk about his life. Remember the ways he made you feel special and important. Celebrate his life, emulate his tenacity and spirit in the way you live your life. Appreciate every moment and share your love and support with those who mean the most to you.  Effect change in the world, be brave, loyal and caring just as Richard was to those closest to him.   Be excited for your futures and consider how Richard's influence plays a hand in life yet ahead for each of you.  


Richard passed away peacefully on Wednesday 7th December.    He leaves behind his loving daughters Mary-Jane, Helen and Jennifer, and his son in law Juan Carlos. He'll be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him, including Sparkles the goat.


The most precious of what we leave behind is the memories that are woven into the lives of others. So it is today with Richard. I now invite  Jennifer Smyth, Richard's daughter to speak on behalf of Mary-Jane and Helen.



  • Jennifer Smyth, Richard's daughter.

  • John Whitehouse, a close friend and colleague from his department days.

  • Meg Levy, Richard’s business partner for 20 years.

  • Donald Weald, a close friend and colleague from London.

Jennifer Smyth

Good morning, my name is Jennifer Smyth and this is a message on behalf of the family


I’d like to talk about some of the ordinary and more unusual things Dad did for the family.


With equal parts of cheekiness, kindness and generosity, Dad lived a full life and raised us to be strong and independent. Dad showed us his love through supporting us as much as he could.

Determined, generous and funny, He passed on his love of physical activity by taking us with him on his morning run, he had to jog on the grass to save his joints, and he had a funny story from when he was a younger lad with a running coach who would tell him “Round again Smyth” as he completed another lap, only to be told “Round again Smyth” again and again. He was an excellent athletics coach and marshal.

On the artistic front, he supported Mum with her ceramics by building 3 kilns in the backyard. And after Mum took up gemstone cutting, and shell and stone carving, Dad took the family to different locations around NSW to fossick for sapphires and minerals.

Dad also supported us with our many pets over the years, including everything from chickens to axolotls.


When Richard insisted about making a speech at Mary-Jane’s wedding, she sharply told him that it would have to be in Spanish, thinking that would be the end of it. However he secretly hired a tutor and forged ahead, to deliver a funny, and touching speech, much to everyone’s surprise!


So I think that is an excellent example of Dad’s determination and dedication.



Ever patient when waiting for one of us to finish tennis, hockey, athletics, gymnastics,  trampolining, cadets, or speech, he was involved in Helen’s school Parents and Friends’ Committee and stood for President of the Gymnastics association to support my gym coach. He came to more Gymnastics competitions than I remember attending and he built me a wooden balance beam for the backyard, and modified the swing set into some unparallel bars with a piece of galv pipe.


And Dad supported us with our many pets over the years, with everything from chickens to axolotls.

In helping me with an Urban planning assignment he climbed  the banks of the Merri Creek to estimate the incline and creek capacity, that got me a good mark.


He always encouraged us to do our best, and push through the tough times, spills and mishaps. When introducing us to rogaining at the NSW Championships course he had set, he was careful to not give any advantage, casting doubt on their decisions, and walking a little extra to make sure.


Dad was diplomatic, level headed and had a protestant work ethic, and we will always be so proud of his professional achievements - which are many, I won’t go into them now as you’ll hear about them from John, Don and Meg.. However he made a big impact on so many peoples’ lives and for that we are grateful.


To everyone here today, and those who sent their love - thank you so much - we’ve been really touched by your kind words and special memories of dad.


Thank you.


Tributes from John, Meg and Donald.

Slide presentation

View the presentation (opens in Google drive - press play button to view slideshow with music).


  • Grieg, Gavotte from Holberg Suite Op 40 (3:16) - Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

  • Haydn, Andante from Notturno No. 3 in C major, Hob. 11:32 (2:02) - Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

  • Shostakovich, Tahiti Trot Op 16 (4:00) - Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Jackie Trevor


Life is a journey for us all, long or short, for Richard it was 85 years long- how blessed were you! As you live your life, do so enriched by having known Richard as the remarkable man he was. Look beyond the grief of today and recall your most precious times you shared with Richard. Cherish your family and friends, for they have the capacity to give you the greatest comfort and happiness.

Richard never sought adulation or external validation. He knew who he was and was proud of his achievements. His real charm rested in the quality of his calm yet stoic character, his generous, considerate nature, his cheeky smile and sparkling blue eyes which somehow always managed to get him out of trouble! and all those intangible traits that we don’t get prizes for..


So let us all be thankful and grateful for his life, and the impact Richard has had on your own life. Each of you have a treasured relationship unique only to you.


Today we have celebrated Richard's life as he would have wanted, simply, surrounded by friends and family, full of colour, cheer and happy memories.

On behalf of Mary Jane, Helen and Jennifer-thank you for being here today and the love and support you have shown.


Please now join them for light refreshments, including Richard’s favourite custard tarts.



Exit music: Bellini, Allegro polonese from Concerto in E-flat for oboe and Orchestra,

Diana Doherty with Queensland Symphony Orchestra (3'28).

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