Obituary: RSL WA vice president Denis Connelly dies after decades of service


RSLWA vice president Denis Connelly died on Wednesday.
RSLWA vice president Denis Connelly died on Wednesday.

DENIS Connelly, vice president of RSLWA, has been hailed a generous and dedicated “true-blue Australian” following his death on Wednesday.

Denis Patrick Connelly was born on May 4, 1940 in Mosman Park and educated at Mosman Park Primary School and Fremantle Boys High School.

The son of a widowed mother, he left school at 14 and obtained an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner.

After completing his five-year apprenticeship, Mr Connelly worked as a journeyman tradesman before joining the RAAF, where he served from 1962-68.

In 1967 he was posted to South Vietnam with the No 5 (Det.B) Airfield Construction Squadron.

After discharge he worked as a supervisor for various building companies before moving to the Education Department where he eventually earned promotion to senior lecturer in building studies.

Mr Connelly joined the RSL in 1968, served on numerous committees and in various RSL positions – including a six-year stint as editor of The Listening Post – before being elected to the State executive in 2012.

In April 2015 he also took on the role of acting president and soon after president of the Applecross RSL sub-branch.

Sub-branch secretary Helen Pickering said Mr Connelly was known for his cheerful disposition and wicked sense of humour and had made a huge contribution in his time as president.

“Denis was always very approachable and friendly and open to listening to suggestions from members,” she said.

“He was instrumental in putting together social excursions and events that helped unify and draw members together.”

Mrs Pickering said Mr Connelly was particularly proud of the City of Melville’s new war memorial, officially unveiled as part of a commemorative Anzac service earlier this year.

“Denis was very active in making sure he and members were involved in the decision making process relating to the new war memorial and we were all extremely pleased with how it turned out.

“He also arranged for a bugle be donated to the music department of Applecross Senior High School so they could participate in future commemorative services.”

RSLWA President Peter Aspinall said the entire organisation was in debt to Mr Connelly for his nearly two decades of voluntary service.

“Denis gave his all as a volunteer for more than 19 years and his loss is being felt keenly by all 10,000 members of the RSL,” he said.

“He was a true-blue Australian who served in the RAAF for six years, served in Vietnam and then spent more than 19 years helping other serving and ex-serving personnel through the RSL. He was devoted to helping his mates.”