If there was something about the 1955 flood that was worth knowing you could bet that Maitland historian Peter Bogan was all over it.
So it was fitting that a 1955 flood level sign from the NSW Public Works Department was one of the belongings displayed at his funeral service in Morpeth on Friday.
The flood, and Maitland’s own 34th battalion, weren’t his only passions though.
He also enjoyed pouring over gravestones in search of long lost relatives.
His son Nicholas, who gave the eulogy with his brother Stephen, recalled his father had spontaneously stopped at Sandgate Cemetery on a stinking hot day in the 1980s.
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They were on their way home after an early trip to the beach to avoid the heat of the day.
“We were dispatched to all corners of the cemetery looking for a relative ...Around four-and-a-half hours later Stephen came across the headstone, Dad was ecstatic with back slaps and handshakes all around. We were ecstatic for different reasons and we piled back into the car looking for a window seat and some fresh air to survive the trip back home – no air conditioning in those days,” Nicholas said.
He also noted that his father had told them the eulogy must not exceed 10 minutes because after that people would turn off.
When Mr Bogan travelled to Ireland in the late 1990’s with his wife Thelma he went searching for long lost relatives.
He had spent months researching in preparation for the trip.
“Most people when they visit Ireland they go to all the tourist places, not dad. He dragged mum through all the cemeteries,” Nicholas said.
Mr Bogan, 82, died on December 2 after a short battle with lung cancer.
He was diagnosed in late October and doctors said it was too advanced to treat.
About 100 people gathered to farewell the historian at the Immaculate Conception Church in Morpeth. Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison, Maitland mayor Loretta Baker and Maitland council staff were among the crowd.
Mr Bogan is survived by his wife Thelma; sons Michael, Mark, Nicholas, Stephen and Tony and their families.