By Rachel Curry
This year, 2016, was always going to be a big year for popular Doubleview parishioner, Jeffrey John Trew, affectionately known as Jeff.
It was the year he would turn 80, as well as the year he would celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary.
Unfortunately, Jeff didn’t make it to the second milestone, passing away on Sunday, 15 May, shortly after receiving the Eucharist.
A man of strong faith who worked tirelessly for his family, parish and community, Jeff is remembered in the following article with words from his beloved wife, Joan, and good friend, Kevin Susai.
Jeffrey John Trew was born on 4 April 1936 in Kalgoorlie and baptised into the Anglican Church.
He spent his early years in the country with his parents, Fred and Ethel, before the family moved to Perth during the Second World War.
It was here that he met his future wife, Joan, after the pair’s mutual passion for hockey caused them to cross paths as teenagers.
“We were 17 when we met and I thought he was pretty good. We were attracted to each other, put it that way,” Joan said.
She added that Jeff was “a very shy boy” back then, possibly due to being raised as an only child.
However, he was forced to change when he began visiting her house regularly and was confronted with her three rambunctious younger brothers.
The pair married at St Columba’s Church in Bayswater in 1956 and Jeff converted to Catholicism about 12 months later.
The crux of the decision was that Joan was a Catholic and the couple wanted to share their faith, Joan said.
“We were both going in different directions and there was not much difference between the Churches. He was quite happy to become a Catholic and he never looked back,” she said.
Joan worked as a dental nurse while Jeff initially had a trade as a fitter, before deciding to dramatically change his career trajectory.
He studied engineering and business management at university and went on to forge a successful career in the cement industry, supporting the couple’s four children: Michael, Joanne, Stephen and Corrine.
“He liked study. He said he would have liked to be a professional student but that wouldn’t buy food for four children and a wife,” Joan recalled.
“He didn’t like it when he was at school but after he started work as a tradesman, he thought there must be an easier way of life. He started studying and carried on for years.”
The couple now have 10 grandchildren and Joan noted that Jeff was always very good with kids, only occasionally “losing his block”.
“He was very caring with the children and grandchildren. They thought an awful lot of him,” she said.
Jeff was not only committed to his family and his work, he also made a huge impact on the community of Woodlands, where the family moved in 1965 and lived for half a century.
They became mainstays at the local Doubleview parish, with Jeff becoming actively involved in the Parish Council, Liturgy, Finance, RCIA and Parish Renewal team.
He was asked to become an acolyte by Father Aquinas McComb in 1978 and continued to perform his duties even after he became ill.
He was also a member of the Dominican Laity, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and the St Vincent de Paul Society, where he was the State President for about two years.
While his children were at school, he was actively involved in the Holy Rosary Primary School and Newman College P&F activities.
He was also a Scout Leader, President of the Fremantle Amateur Angling Club and founding member of the first Association for Independent Retirees branch in Western Australia, which he expanded to 14 branches from Geraldton to Albany.
Far from being domineering, Joan said Jeff achieved things “in a quiet manner”.
“He just had a way with people. And he worked hard… he wouldn’t ask anybody to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself,” she said.
Looking back on the countless hours the couple gave to their parish and community, Joan said it was simply their “way of life”.
Jeff’s good friend, Kevin Susai, who is also Doubleview Parish Chairman, offered a similar explanation.
“For him, life was about serving people. It’s not just a matter of going to church and going home,” he said.
“It was very obvious that he wanted to be not just part of the community, but instrumental in serving the community.”
Kevin recalled that, when he first moved to the parish with his wife in 1993, Jeff was one of the first parishioners to introduce himself.
The pair developed a close friendship and Kevin followed Jeff in many of his pursuits, but what most touched him was Jeff’s faith.
“His faith was very, very strong. He was a convert, but he knew more about Catholicism probably than most Catholics did, and he practised it daily,” Kevin said.
“He was a good role model for many people.”
Joan said she had received more than one hundred cards since Jeff passed away, which is evidence of how much he will be missed.
However, she revealed he would be “horrified” to have such a fuss made over him.
“He was a very humble person. I’m waiting for a sign to say ‘Cut it out’,” she said with a smile.