Vale MERV DARKE 6/12/1927 to 21/3/2022

Nurtheen ‘Merv’ Darke

Merv was born 6th December, 1927 in Leichardt, Sydney. His childhood was spent living on a boat his father had built.

At the age of 16, following family military tradition, Merv joined the Navy. He saw active service on the HMAS QUIBERON along the east coast of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

On New Year’s Eve 1947 Merv was involved in a motorbike accident which resulted in his right leg being amputated in January 1948.

Merv started working for Smith’s Instruments where he was notorious for his prodigious memory, having the ability to recall part numbers quickly and accurately.

In July 1952 Merv married his first wife Pamela. They had four boys David, Michael, Stephen and Anthony.

Merv left Smith’s Instruments to go out on his own, setting up Sutherland Instruments Company which is still operating and in the family and Olympic Instruments which he later sold.

By this time the family were living in a waterfront home at Yowie Bay. The boys and Merv enjoyed many water sports. Fishing, boating, water-skiing and sailing. He loved racing his Flying 15.

Merv also coached the boys’ junior soccer teams enjoying success both in results but also proud that all the kids got a go, not just the talented ones.

As well as being a Lions Club member, Merv, was also heavily involved in the early days of the Miranda Bowling Club and the Cronulla Golf Club.

 He had also taken up fullbore rifle shooting initially with 303’s out at the Holsworthy range at Liverpool and then at the Anzac  range at Malabar, where he was a member of Sydney Naval Rifle club.

Through shooting, he met Monica.  They moved into an historic stone house in Tasmania just over the hill from the rifle range at Pontville. They joined Macquarie Plains Rifle Club.

They married in Hobart’s botanical gardens in February 1986.

In between renovating the house and stables, searching for the best Devonshire tea in Tassie, Merv found time for golf and shooting. He helped set up the Australian Veteran Rifle shooters and represented Tasmania as a Veteran rifle shooter in the state teams’ event in Adelaide.

1987 saw a move back to Monica’s family property near Dorrigo.

As well as being a very keen shooter, Merv was also a keen lawn bowler and golfer. While he was very competitive at club level, he was also selected in Australian lawn bowls teams.

Merv was also winning titles and medallions playing at national titles with the Amputee Sporting Association of Australia, the NSW Amputee Sporting Association and the NSW Sports Council for the Disabled.

However he was most proud of his gold medal winning the pairs with Neville Millington, and a silver medal in the open fours at the 3rd I S O D World Bowling Championships held Rosehill in 1997.

 Golf was another of Merv’s passions. He was the Dorrigo Golf Club C grade Champion 1996 and the matchplay champion in 1999. In 1996 Merv was selected in the World Series Amputee Golf Tournament in Sydney coming home with an impressive engraved pewter mug as part of the winning team.

Merv, with a few others, got the Dorrigo Veteran golfers up and running and of course, true to form he served on the golf club committee.

He played his last game of golf at Dorrigo on 4th September last year playing a full 18 holes because ‘if you start something you finish it’.

Monica and Merv joined the Dorrigo Rifle Club and Merv wasted no time in getting involved on the committee and was Secretary and/or Treasurer more often than not up until 2019.  He built and refaced many targets.

Merv was a member of the NSW Rifle Association Veteran State team 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1995. He also made the Australian Veteran Rifle team in 1988 as a shooter and again in 1989 and 1990 when he was a shooter and captained the team in New Zealand and Australia.

Merv was a stickler for the rules, played to win but was gracious in defeat. Always fair and a good sport. He could not abide cheats, could spot bullshit a mile off but loved to stir. (On leaving Tassie he was presented with a signed bat- they couldn’t find a large enough spoon- from the Metropolitan Rifle Club for being the biggest stirrer they had come across!)

He spent most of his life proving that being an amputee would not prevent him doing anything. Merv refused to be a cripple and refused to be old.

He was a loyal faithful supportive husband and father.

Merv was able to live at home right until he passed away peacefully at Dorrigo hospital aged 94 years on the 21st  March 2022.


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