19 December last year Tony Dunkerley 74, went to bed as was his custom, and in the depths of his sleep the Lord Jesus called him home. A favourite of the young writers in the Christian Today program this 'forever young' personality became their celebrity.
Tony Dunkerley had spoken at their September 2013 young writer conference in Melbourne and again at the New Zealand young writer conference in April 2014 and was too unwell to to attend the 2014 September conference on the Gold Coast.
Russell Modlin the young writer's representative on the Well-Being Australia Board said of Tony Dunkerley's contribution in September 2013:
"His seminar was awe inspiring. I still have notes from what he said to us:
1. Enthusiasm 2 Corinthians 8-9
4. Persistence Romans 2
Perhaps it was more significant to me as it was also my birthday."
Auckland's Sam Burrows was the co-speaker at that conference along with the Wellington conference exclaimed: "Life is crazy. Remember Tony fondly as an encouraging and generous voice!"
Sophia Sinclair of Christchurch and now ministering with the young writers collating their articles for Christian Today noted: "Tony was so full of life and passion, I feel privileged to have heard his wisdom."
Jared Diprose at the Wellington conference spoke to Tony Dunkerley privately as he was initiating a small business in Auckland and sought his wisdom and corresponded: "That makes me very sad, I only just started to get to know him and he was such a good guy."
In his business life he went on to become an MD of a UK based multi-national, coaching national, state and local junior soccer teams, become the President of Football Victoria, the Commissioner for Junior Football, mentor to young people, husband, father and grand father (Pa).
Tony's other ministry with Well-Being Australia over 30 years was accompanying me on Country Town Tours mainly in Victoria and Queensland. This video interview with the Australian Missionary News conducted by Jeremy Dover is the Tony Dunklerely we all knew – 'evergreen' .....
In this video he speaks to his relocation from England to Australia in 1962, how soccer established him into the Australian community, his soccer, coaching, the Country Town Tours and mentoring.
Tony Dunkerley was also one of the young writer's Sport Panellists for the annual awards and last year I published in Christian Today each of their stories. In Tony Dunkerley's story he wrote of his early years:
What Tony wanted remembered of his story
"This has stirred up so many memories of my first 20 years as a young boy growing up in the most difficult years 1940-1960 in Europe, the loss of all the males in our family for at least 5 years and in my father's case, he never returned to my Granny, my Mother or me, as he went on a whole new life on his own .
It was a battle , but full of love that only I guess now women can give but we were poor and yes it was tough but I never felt different to all the other kids. Even when they took us all away from Glasgow and put us on an island called Largs a few miles from Glasgow where we lived for a long period of time whilst Glasgow was being bombed in WWII. Mum and Granny visited at weekends. I can see the ferry coming over now on the Saturday !!
I'm glad I do not remember it going back on a Sunday. I had a stepfather at 12, a brother at 14, and Praise the Lord a late sister at 18 - which were all highlights of the little house in an interesting area in Leicester where we lived. It has re-stirred many memories some happy - a lot of sad ones- lots of people I wish I had been able to ask for forgiveness for hurting them by leaving England at 21.
Throughout all those years I flirted with Jesus, knew about him, went to various Church Youth Groups and played football for many of them but also I left him when as a young rebellious teenager and became a "Why Me" young man possibly saw James Dean in "Rebel without a cause" too many times!!
I left everyone I knew and loved and went to London for the first time, to catch an aircraft to be a 10 Pound Pom Migrant to Australia in 1962. Why? Was it to let the new family at home become a happier unit without me around? How could I leave my Mother, I see her now crying at the Midland Road Railway station as the train pulled out and her distraught face haunts me even now and the tears in my eyes as I type this are warm and stinging. Bless you Mary McPhee McDonald Nicol who became a Dunkerley!!
I cannot carry on as the emotions are so strong, I am upset, my head tells me stiff upper lip, you did it, you made it, you are successful, it had to be done but it ripped her heart out that day !!
In your life, if you can ask for forgiveness then be prepared to forgive, be honest enough to admit it is not just about 'me', be honest enough to throw away all the papers and documents that you have stored to convince you that you were right and those people who hurt and criticized you were wrong. I have only just done that with my files, lots and lots of files !!.
Australia has been a life saver, the land of opportunity, the land of rewards if you work extra hard, the land of amazing mix of cultures which seem all mono based even still but somehow generally there is a Harmony.
But as Sam Burrows said there is a peaceful awareness of who you are in New Zealand which I am not sure is here yet. Still sobbing so have to stop, people are due in my office soon, my faith is stronger than ever due to my involvement with Well-Being Australia's Dr Mark Tronson and him letting me part of the vibrant intelligent hard working well meaning clever young writers of New Zealand and Australia.
I have been on many Country Town Tours around Australia with our Well-Being Australia mission team providing coaching clinics and speaking at youth rallies, youth services and sports dinners. In my mentoring experience Mark Tronson invites me to be part of the young writer conferences.
I am part of the Prayer Team at our local Dingley (Melbourne) Anglican Church who come together when called upon for such a purpose, often 8.00am of a week day morning, witnessing many miraculous outcomes. Jenny my wife went through cancer operations a few years ago."
The Tony we knew
This is the Tony Dunkerley we knew. Australian and Victorian Football (Soccer), the Golf Club, the Cricket Club and friends. Jenny his wife, his children and their families will all have their own memories and stories.
But this was the Tony we knew! And our ministry was mightily blessed. Thankyou to the Lord Jesus Christ for Tony Dunkerley's blessing to us.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html