Vale – Trevor John Bagust 1944 – 2014

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Written by Chris Morrow

Flowers from Trevor Bagust's Funeral


I attended the funeral of Dr Trevor Bagust, a friend, senior colleague and at times a mentor yesterday (11 March 2014).  I represented the WPVA at the request of the executive (as I was with Nigel Horrox  in Thailand soon after the news was announced).  The wreath I organised from the Association is pictured above.  The funeral was held in an old Drill Hall adjoined to a pub and then moved to the cemetery for the interment. It was not a religious service- rather a celebration of his life albeit one he and all the audience expected to be longer.  After the cemetery a lot of the people returned to the drill hall for a wake – The funeral took place in his last home town – Port Fairy – about 3 hours drive from Melbourne.  Port Fairy is an old fishing town and holds an annual folk festival – considered the eighth wonder of the folk music festival circuit and this festival was on the weekend.  Trevor had tickets to go, so did I. The funeral had a massive audience being about 50% more than the seating capacity.

His death was sudden, he arose on Friday 28 of Feb, ate breakfast and headed off to the next town to work on some chairs.  Two hours later he was dead – sudden but peaceful. It was pointed out to the audience that they were sitting of seats upholstered and repaired by Trevor – and later Graeme Murray noted that perhaps Trevor had to learn how to repair chairs as he had the tendency to talk the legs of them.  His pipe work was described by several orators; its use was to give time for Trevor to think of a stratagem, a course of action and his daughter placed a wooden carved chicken on his coffin that she had found in his workshop.

The funeral celebrated his lives with four speakers: These lives were his family life and professional life and although a brief professional sketch was given by Graeme Murray (his offsider in the development of Australian SPF stock and the extension of this technology into China and other parts of the third world) his contributions to the understanding of chicken diseases was not attempted and we await his obituary that is currently being drafted by some of his scientific peers in Australia.  His professional achievements in terms of managing projects, his vision and the Presidency of the WVPA were  highlighted.  Although his two lives were not mutually exclusive the overlap was not great but the audience today was mixed and amazed by seeing more of the other side.  From the descriptions and anecdotes of all the speakers it was clearly the same Trevor in both arenas and all roles (Husband, Father, Grandfather, Scientist, Mentor etc).  He was accused of being superstitious by one speaker for removing shoes from the table – I must be superstitious also – it seems to me to be good biosecurity.


Trevor was born in Hamilton, New Zealand in 1944.  He did a PhD in Brisbane and then moved to CSL in Melbourne about 1970, and then CSIRO Animal Health where he started the research group to investigate avian diseases.  Finally he moved to University of Melbourne where he was integral in the development of the online Masters of Avian Medicine and aid projects into SE Asia.

His family, wife Joanne and his daughters have been amazed by and appreciated the messages from Trevor’s professional contacts.  A list of perhaps 30 countries were read out from where they had had emails – testimonials to his large professional network.

Trevor and Joanne have been married for 35 years and now have grandchildren.  A photo montage was played at the funeral with a lot of shots of family life and some work engagements (including one with Stan and Kathy Kleven).  The picture of him in a skivvy with hair illustrated one of his life long friend’s description of him as a man about town in the early 70s. His beaming smile a constant feature.

Trevor kept a diary for the last seven years and his daughter Kathy read out an excerpt from his 65th birthday about four years ago “It is great to be alive”.  He had a zest for life up until the last with “just being Trevor”.  When some music was played at the cemetery a cacophony from birds in the adjacent pine trees seemed to wail a farewell.

Vale Trevor

Chris Morrow.

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