Ron Connolly

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Port Adelaide Library:

Ronald Brian Connolly

South Side

Name added to memorial 2006

He was nominated by the SA Unions (formerly Trades and Labour Council of SA)

Ron Connolly was born in Ethelton on April 7 1932 within a strict Catholic house. He attended Ethelton Primary School, St Josephs at Port Adelaide and then the a short stay at Marist College at Alberton before he was asked to go back to a public school because he chose to shine shoes on the wharfs at Port Adelaide rather than go to school, completing his education at 13 at Le Fevre Primary School.

He began work as a seaman, shipping out of Port Adelaide at 15 years of age on the Barwon. During his time at sea he sailed to various overseas ports on British and Scandinavian vessels.

Ron served in Korea from late December 1952 until armistice in July 1953 attached to the Second Battalion, 7 Platoon Company, 2 Section. Ron regretted joining the army as the experiences impacted heavily on his life, forming an intolerance of war and American Imperialism and influencing his strong political beliefs.

He was also a fighter, fighting preliminary fights for Adelaide Stadiums Limited. In 1956 he became South Australian Professional Light Weight Champion.

In 1954 Ron returned to Port Adelaide reestablishing himself on the wharves, joining the Waterside Workers Federation serving at Secretary of the Port Adelaide Branch of the Job Delegates Association and working with 80, 37 and 13 gangs.

Ron’s wife Jean was Secretary of the Waterside Workers Women’s Committee. They provided support events and activities for families of waterside workers, including picnics, dancing lessons and netball, a wonderful community for the families of all waterside workers.

When Ron and Jean married in 1955 he built their house at Taperoo. When their children started school Ron became a member of the Taperoo Primary School Committee, Secretary of the school Canteen Committee and an executive member of the Western Districts SA Public School Committee Association.

In 1960 Ron joined the Communist Party of Australia which provided him an appreciation of education, organisation and comradeship. In 1976 he travelled to Moscow with other delegates to participate in a 3 ½ months of a Party School.

In 1969 Ron was elected Councillor for the City of Port Adelaide and then Alderman until 1978. He actively sought changes to the rating system which favored big business rather than residents and the rights of women to have the opportunity to work on Council outside of staff.

In 1988 Ron became Port Adelaide Branch Secretary, and then State Secretary and Federal executive Officer of the Federation until retiring in 1992.

Upon their retirement Jean and Ron spent three months of each year caravanning around north to view the real Australia. He also joined the Semaphore Workers Club his home away from home. Notes from Janet Giles SA Unions

Contemporary press clippings: