Federation Life Member Ken Dodd has died aged 87.
He understood how to engage people in a cause. When the first teachers' strike was organised in 1968 Ken was instrumental in mobilising teachers and the Bellinger River community to understand the issues and to join in support. He noted a few parents were less than amused and loudly announced that if others wished to send their children to school on that day they would be there to care for them. The offer was accepted by many. It must have been very successful because when the next strike occurred no such offers were made and a few more supporters were reluctantly gained!
Ken was passionate about many things and Federation was one of them. He was an activist throughout his career at the local and state levels. He began attending Annual Conference in the 1940s and didn’t miss one for more than 30 years. He was on Council from 1968 until 1988, representing Bellinger River and Dorrigo teachers associations.
Over a 41-year teaching career Ken remained consistent in his working class values which imbued him with a sense of social justice and determination to work tirelessly to improve the working conditions of his colleagues and the learning conditions of his students.
He began his teaching career at a series of one-teacher schools in the south and west of the state. Life in the bush was to be a big shock, not only the isolation but the poverty and primitive living conditions of the children and their families in many of the communities in which he taught during the 1940s and ‘50s.
Ken was passionate about many things and Federation was one of them. He was an activist throughout his career at the local and state levels.
In 1956 he was appointed to the mid north coast firstly at Fernmount and in 1963 to his first staffed school at Urunga. He enjoyed the conversations at break times but he wasn’t a fan of the principal telling him how to mark dictation.
In 1966 Ken was appointed to a position then called remedial teacher with responsibility for students in a range of schools in the local area. Ken was held in the highest regard by the many teachers and parents that he encountered in the role, with so many students benefiting from his deep understanding of how children learn and his ability to engage them. Many years after he retired teachers still comment on the valuable programs that he instituted and the quality of his teaching practice.
Ken is fondly remembered by all who knew him as a valued community member, a passionate and highly respected teacher, a dedicated supporter of public education and a committed unionist.
He is survived by his wife Claire, five daughters, fourteen grandchildren and a growing number of great-grandchildren.
This obituary is based on a condolence speech by Tim Mulroy, with information gathered from Ken’s family and Ken’s interview for Federation’s Oral History Project.