Richard Curtis Mesley was the third son of a Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral, Jack Mesley, and Gay, whose maiden name was Curtis.
From his very first day at school, there can be no doubt that little Dickie was an archetypal chatterbox. And, over the next 61 years, he turned talking … usually very loudly … into an art form!
RAN transfers meant that Dick attended a variety of schools, but … like Ed Cowan some years later … he completed his secondary schooling at Cranbrook School. He was the star player in both the Cricket 1stXI and the Rugby 1st XV and got a maximum pass in the Leaving Certificate – he was a massive over achiever!
At Sydney University, he fully embraced residential college life and breezed through his Civil/Structural Engineering degree with one minor hiccup. That was a 2nd Year Engineering exam that Dick failed to attend because he was making a match-winning century for St Paul’s College in a much more important
Rawson Cup cricket match!
I can just imagine what Dick’s reaction would have been if his own son Michael had pulled a stunt like that a generation later!
Dick was clearly academically gifted and, in the mid 1970s, he attained a Stanford University Masters degree with straight As.
He gained work experience in both San Francisco and the United Kingdom, before embarking on 25 years of senior management roles at Rankine & Hill and then Connell Wagner, after their merger. He also gave back to the profession by assuming key roles in various professional organisations.
As a cricketer, Dick had eight years at the SUCC and was a 1st Grader with both Sydney Uni and then North Sydney. He later had a long and distinguished career in Club cricket with the I Zingari Cricket Club.
Throughout his cricket career, Dick was always a very stylish batsman and a superb fielder, who accomplished both of these feats with plenty of on-field chat!
Dick always considered a “classy” 45 to be vastly superior to a scratchy “75”.
Dick’s fielding ability reflected the fact that he was also an accomplished baseballer.
Dick’s highly developed hand-eye coordination held him in good stead on both the tennis court and golf links, although he primarily saw these sports as opportunities for camaraderie and good fun with his friends.
I have a vivid memory of a game of golf with RC Mesley some 25 years ago at Elanora Country Club. In those days, Mr Mesley was a once or twice per year golfer, who still had a lot to learn about the game.
His son Michael … aged about 10 at that time … was caddying for his father. We had reached the tee block of a rather tight driving hole and Mesley Junior presented Mesley Senior with a 4 iron. Mesley Senior insisted on using a 1 wood and duly cold topped his tee shot into the bushes in front of the tee block.
Mesley Junior’s reaction was to mutter the words “dickhead”!
“What did you say?” demanded Mesley Senior.
I then intervened and said: “He very appropriately called you a dickhead!"
“Right” said Mesley Senior “give me a 4 iron and another ball, Michael.” Mesley Senior then proceeded to clear the bushes and record a good natured wipe on the hole!
Only Mike can attest as to whether there were subsequent recriminations in the car on the way home to Chatswood, where the Mesleys then lived in a house that had previously been owned by the revered ABC cricket commentator, AG “Johnny” Moyes.
Dick Mesley had a very strong philanthropic bent. He was a foundation member of The Primary Club of Australia – a cricketing-based charity which provides sporting and recreational facilities for the disabled.
For more than 25 years, Dick was a very enthusiastic member of The Primary Club committee. He attended just about every Primary Club function and helped organise most of them.
Dick and Wendy frequently offered a week’s stay at The Cowpad – their delightful South Coast holiday house – as an auction item at Primary Club fundraisers.
And didn’t Dick love the cut and thrust of a fundraising auction!
Dick made some amazing purchases at these events, but his pièce de résistance was the time that he was the successful bidder for a week’s stay at The Cowpad – the very item which he had so generously donated to the fundraising cause!
The Primary Club of Australia will be forever indebted to both Dick and Wendy Mesley for their remarkable contributions.
Let me conclude by recounting some of Dick Mesley’s most endearing qualities.
First and foremost, he loved his family. He was also the loyalist of friends to a great many people.
He also loved animals … particularly dogs, but he plonked his holiday house in the middle of a dairy farm, with hundreds of Friesian cows as his immediate neighbours!
Dick was a people person with an infectious sense of fun, which often bordered on the ridiculous.
His love of canines extended to the telling of unbelievably long shaggy dog stories! The punchlines were usually pathetic, but Dick’s telling of these yarns was always exceptionally entertaining.
Dick was a great raconteur, quick witted and with a most distinctive laugh, which was also infectious … but extremely loud. It was always an interesting experience for strangers at restaurant tables which adjoined the one where Dick was seated!
Dick compensated for hearing problems, which he incurred in the latter part of his life, by raising the level of his voice and laugher by quite a few decibels!
He embraced every aspect of life with overt enthusiasm, an extremely positive attitude and a twinkle in his eye.
For the last five years of his life, Dick fought the good fight against insidious health problems. He never complained about his fate and extended his life by many years through remarkable determination and an incredibly positive attitude.
Indeed, Dick was more concerned about providing help for others in need of support. Over the last decade, he devoted much of his time to the Action Foundation for Mental Health at Chatswood. This included acting as the bus driver on many excursions.
I should mention that Dick’s son Michael … in his day at the SUCC … was a member of a winning Sydney Uni Poidevin-Gray side. It was especially poignant that Mike took Dick, during his last weekend, for a visit the scene of former Mesley triumphs – Sydney Uni N°1 Oval.
I was privileged to spend lots of time with Dick at The Primary Club, on the cricket field and … more recently … on the golf course.
Richard Curtis Mesley made a big difference to the lives of all his family, friends and associates. We will always remember Dick with great affection.