Sports star coura­geous to the end

McIvor Times - - NEWS -

DENNIS Lin­ton Glee­son was born on No­vem­ber 30, 1955. He was the el­dest, of three sons, born to Lin and Nita Glee­son of For­est Dale — or the “Moorm­bool West Agri­cul­tural Col­lege”, best known as the Glee­son fam­ily farm, a fifth gen­er­a­tion en­ter­prise.

His early years on the farm were great fun with his broth­ers Les (known as Butch) and Gary and cousins Shane and Glenn Beale be­ing con­stant com­pan­ions at play, school at Coster­field, spot­light­ing, play­ing ten­nis with Coster­field Ten­nis Club, play­ing foot­ball at Toob­o­rac Foot­ball Club and com­plet­ing farm work.

But through all this they were al­lowed plenty of time to en­joy life and learn strong fam­ily val­ues.

In 1967, Dennis was the boy cham­pion at the Heath­cote District Pri­mary School Sports As­so­ci­a­tion.

Years later, he proudly dis­played his win­ning cup and the VSSSA medal he won for be­ing the fastest boy run­ner in the district that year, to his chil­dren.

At 15, Dennis de­cided to leave cor­re­spon­dence school and be­gin jug­gling farm life while also earn­ing an off-farm in­come. Shear­ing at 15 keeps you fit for footy, thought Dennis!

He soon learnt bet­ter in­come and less vig­or­ous work could be achieved as a con­trac­tor at Puck­a­pun­yal Army Base, com­plet­ing soil con­ser­va­tion work with stick rak­ing and seed­ing.

He pur­chased his own Con­nor Shea seed box and be­gan con­tract work and soil con­ser­va­tion work for lo­cal farm­ers too.

In 1979, Dennis mar­ried lo­cal girl and long-time friend June Har­vey, mak­ing their home at Coster­field.

This was the home they were to live in all their mar­ried life and where they hap­pily raised their two chil­dren, Tim and Meg.

Later they wel­comed their daugh­ter-in-law, Lilly, and grand­chil­dren, Emma and Daniel.

Ear­lier this year, Damian, hus­band of Meg, was wel­comed to “Nauru” too. The hap­pi­est times were spent around the out­side fire or un­der the pa­tio where they shared bar­be­cues, piz­zas, a few beers or red wines with fam­ily and friends.

Dennis worked hard but loved to play sport.

He played A grade ten­nis for Coster­field, par­tic­i­pat­ing in and win­ning many lo­cal tour­na­ments.

Dennis also played in Coun­try Week ten­nis tour­na­ments for the Pyalong District Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion in Bendigo.

At that time, Coster­field, Pyalong, Toob­o­rac and Heath­cote were mem­bers of that as­so­ci­a­tion.

In 1970, aged 14, Dennis won the thirds best and fairest award at Toob­o­rac Foot­ball Club and was the run­ner-up best and fairest in the HDFL thirds com­pe­ti­tion.

By the age of 17 Dennis played in his first premier­ship as a se­nior team mem­ber of the Toob­o­rac Foot­ball Club.

He played in back-to-back se­nior pre­mier­ships for Toob­o­rac. He made friend­ships with men from these teams who were to be­come life­time mates, many of them trav­el­ling long dis­tances to at­tend Dennis’ funeral.

When Toob­o­rac FC went into re­cess in 1975, Dennis trans­ferred to the Heath­cote Foot­ball Club and played with their se­nior team un­til the end of the 1980 sea­son.

Dennis then played golf for the Heath­cote Golf Club. He played in their pen­nant team and made many friend­ships.

His name ap­pears on many tro­phies and hon­our boards in the Heath­cote Golf club­house.

A squash court was opened in Heath­cote and while it ex­isted, Dennis and June joined the com­pe­ti­tion.

In Au­gust 1980, they en­joyed the op­por­tu­nity to be mem­bers of the same team and share a premier­ship.

From 1990-93 Dennis was the lo­cal Vic­k­ick coach and co-or­di­na­tor. In 1992, a team of lo­cal lads in West Coast guernseys played at half-time of the se­nior game against lads wear­ing North Mel­bourne jumpers, un­der lights, at the MCG.

The lo­cal lads won and Dennis proudly told ev­ery­one who cared, or didn’t care, to lis­ten that he had coached a team to win at the MCG!

He went on that year to coach the com­bined team from Heath­cote Pri­mary and Holy Rosary schools to be pre­miers in Divi­sion Four of the Cam­paspe Mallee Pri­mary Schools Foot­ball car­ni­val at Catholic Col­lege, Bendigo.

In 1993, now play­ing in Divi­sion Three, Dennis again coached the team from the Heath­cote schools to reach the semi-fi­nals to be beaten by St Joseph’s, who went on to be the ul­ti­mate win­ners that year.

The same year, Dennis also coached the midgets game rep­re­sent­ing the HDFL at the Bendigo QEO, against a team rep­re­sent­ing the Lod­don Val­ley League.

Dennis fol­lowed the Heath­cote ju­nior foot­ball and the cricket club around the coun­try­side as his son Tim par­tic­i­pated in those teams.

Dennis was al­ways there to trans­port lads, um­pire, be the scorer or help in what­ever way he was asked.

For this he was awarded best club­man by the cricket club. When Meg played net­ball, Dennis, al­ways the sup­port­ive Dad, learnt the rules and watched ev­ery game she played and coached from the side­lines!

Mean­while, Dennis was still farm­ing and build­ing Glee­son Bros Fenc­ing with his brother Butch.

His brother Gary and son Tim were also em­ployed in the fenc­ing busi­ness when they were avail­able.

In about 2000 he be­gan a stint as se­nior foot­ball team man­ager for the Heath­cote Foot­ball/Net­ball Club.

He was to con­tinue in this role un­til the end of the 2015 sea­son. He also served on the com­mit­tee of the club and was a tire­less worker at wood days, grape pick­ing, work­ing bees and club func­tions.

For his ded­i­ca­tion he was awarded a life mem­ber­ship in 2012. He was most proud to have a lo­cal lad tell him that when he achieved his 200 games award for the Heath­cote club, Dennis had been with him at ev­ery one of those games.

Dur­ing 2006 a bare­foot bowls com­pe­ti­tion was in­tro­duced to the town on Tues­day evenings. With mates Chris Mor­com, Des and Ch­eryl Ayres, Dennis formed a team.

They won mul­ti­ple pre­mier­ships. Dennis and Chris then joined the Bowl­ing Club’s A grade pen­nant team.

Dennis loved bowl­ing and took to it with his usual zest for com­pe­ti­tion. With Chris as part­ner they won the Heath­cote Bowl­ing Club Pairs Knock­out Cham­pi­onship in 2011-12.

Dennis was Club Cham­pion Run­ner-up in 2014-15 but was most proud to be a mem­ber of the Heath­cote Bowl­ing Club’s A grade team to win the Divi­sion Four Premier­ship in the Bendigo District Bowl­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in the 2015-16 sea­son. His fi­nal sport­ing achieve­ment.

Dennis served the CFA as a mem­ber of the Coster­field Ru­ral Fire Bri­gade, ris­ing to First Lieu­tenant.

He was sec­re­tary/trea­surer of the bri­gade for 18 years and was pre­sented with his 45-year ser­vice medal in 2016.

A cou­ple of in­ter­est­ing facts about Dennis:

He loved to dance, es­pe­cially rock ’n’ roll, and he loved fam­ily his­tory.

He pur­sued his fam­ily tree through the Births, Deaths and Mar­riages registry and made con­tact with the farmer in Ire­land who had pur­chased the last acres of the Glee­son fam­ily farm in County Clare, Ire­land.

He was sent a stone from those farm­lands and proudly kept it on the man­tel­piece.

He loved trawl­ing through the archived copies of The McIvor Times, find­ing vale ar­ti­cles for fam­ily mem­bers.

It is only fit­ting his vale should be pub­lished in The McIvor Times too.

In 2006, the Glee­son fam­ily were dev­as­tated to lose the pa­tri­arch of the fam­ily busi­ness, their fa­ther and men­tor, Lin Glee­son.

Dennis now as­sumed the role that had been his fathers. He be­came ‘the boss’. He left the suc­cess­ful fenc­ing busi­ness to con­cen­trate on farm­ing at For­est Dale.

He had a good busi­ness brain and had been well tu­tored by his fa­ther. The Glee­son boys be­came a for­mi­da­ble team with Dennis tak­ing care of the wool and sheep, Butch the ma­chin­ery and crop­ping, and Gary tak­ing care of stock work.

In July 2009, the farm, trad­ing as L Glee­son and Sons, won the Re­serve Com­mer­cial Cham­pion Fleece at the Aus­tralian Sheep and Wool Com­pe­ti­tion with a 16.6-mi­cron fleece awarded 91.45 points.

This is the largest wool and sheep show of its kind in the world. Dennis was pleased, but not sat­is­fied with this re­sult.

His aim was to have the best wool-pro­duc­ing sheep in the area.

In 2011, the farm was awarded the most valu­able fleece prize but again Dennis wasn’t sat­is­fied.

He was re­warded in 2013 when L Glee­son and Sons re­ceived the Cham­pion Com­mer­cial Fleece Award at the Aus­tralian Sheep and Wool Show.

They were beaten by 0.56 points on win­ning the grand cham­pion fleece in the show — the win­ning fleece com­ing from a stud of 24,000 sheep and from a stud ewe.

In 2017, still un­der Dennis’s su­per­vi­sion, the farm was awarded the El­ders South­ern Supreme Clip of the month for Oc­to­ber and were fi­nal­ists for the El­ders Supreme Wool Clip of the Year.

Dennis ob­vi­ously had un­fin­ished busi­ness in the wool game.

He had un­fin­ished busi­ness with life in gen­eral.

Days be­fore his 60th birth­day he was di­ag­nosed with Mo­tor Neu­rone Dis­ease.

He faced this di­ag­no­sis with fight and de­ter­mi­na­tion. His coura­geous bat­tle with ‘the beast’ he knew he would never de­feat lasted three years.

Dennis was blessed to be loved by so many, as he loved so many.

He was sup­ported on the farm by his broth­ers and buoyed by the many vis­i­tors who didn’t for­get him and con­tin­ued to visit him at home when he could no longer travel in the com­mu­nity he had served so faith­fully.

Dennis died at home on Au­gust 12, in his own bed next to his de­voted wife, just as he wanted.

His love and de­vo­tion to fam­ily will live for ever and he will con­tinue to look down on them and guide them.

We hope you were priv­i­leged to have met Dennis.

Ar­ti­cle con­trib­uted by Dennis’s fam­ily and com­piled from the eu­lo­gies de­liv­ered at his funeral by Rev Bron­wyn Jones, Shane Beale, Butch Glee­son, Grant Baker, An­drew Con­forti, Brian Tay­lor and Wayne McGrath.

Photo: Bar­bara Sun­gaila

Dennis Glee­son, right, with broth­ers Butch and Gary, won the Cham­pion Com­mer­cial Fleece Award at the Aus­tralian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo in 2013.

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