Malcolm Gordon Gleeson: 1 — 25 May 1957 to 01 June 2007


aids_ribbon.gifA Memorial Service for the Late Malcolm Gordon Gleeson was held in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart Hospice, Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst, Friday 29th June 2007, commencing at 11:00am. Read the basic text of the service here. Two poems read at the service and the eulogy by Dorothy McRae-McMahon are now there.


On Easter Sunday 2007 our friend Malcolm Gleeson wrote the following note about his life. It is published here with his permission.


Summing it up…

As I sit in front of my pc writing this short synopsis of my life, I have no regrets.

Life has been at times a bastard:

• My teenage years with a messy divorce and domestic violence plus bullying and bashings because everyone else knew I was “different”… something it took a while for me to figure out in the backwoods of Tasmania.

And at others a wonderful adventure:

• Serving in the RAN Fleet Air Arm working on fighters, navy diving with all its inherent risks and dangers.

try 005a 

• Working in Switzerland as THE electrical engineer responsible for designing and implementing the wiring and instrument panel configuration for the RAAF PC9’s so that there was no need to remove the entire panel to get access to individual parts. I hope that twenty years later there is still sufficient wiring left to enable this, which would be a bonus – but I never did get to ask a RAAFie electrical fitter for his thoughts… Then again maybe that’s for the better!

• Flying as a commercial pilot… The friendships and experiences were fantastic! The vastness and colour of our great country can only be seen by air and what a privilege it was to go to work. I might also add that the rail line to Broken Hill is great to fly along at 50-100 feet at 3.5 miles/minute… switching the landing lights on just before overflying the PM western freight train can also get a great reaction from those crews!!!
• I cannot forget a couple of my students: Kathy Morrison, the sister of John and James, who has now gone on to commercial flying. We were starring aces of the air as we “shot down” virtually every Piper Tomahawk and Cessna 152 that dared to venture west of Hoxton Park. There was also Scott Bickford, whose dear father used to drop around to my place in the “early hours” of every Sunday morning to pick me up and take me to Schofields Aerodrome so I could give Scott his lessons. Scott now flies Boeing 737s as a first officer and is due for promotion in the near future. I wish them the brightest futures.

Gay life: nothing more to say other than that there have been some very “different” people I have met and some wonderful times had.

Music: has been a big part of my life that has led me to meet some outstandingly talented musos. Thanks for playing some great “dots” guys… They are uplifting.

Friends: where would we be without them? My particular appreciation to John Morrison (and the family), Ian Smith, Danny Nel and Neil Whitfield for their friendship, love and support particularly over the past few months. My love and best wishes though as always to ALL my friends.

My life has been shortened by this bastard disease but do not shed a tear at my passing… Be happy for me that I packed so much living into a short space of time.

— Malcolm, April 2007.


John Coltrane.

I think Malcolm would approve. 🙂


Personal note

bi04.jpgI first met Malcolm at the Flinders Hotel in Surry Hills in 1999-2000. We struck up a conversation and continued to chat regularly. Malcolm had a lot of good stories to tell. What I didn’t know at the time, though I learned of it later, was that he had already been very ill, almost losing the use of his legs. He had also had a torrid time following the death of his partner a short time before I met him. He was gregarious but also in many ways a private person. For years I had no idea he lived just a short distance from where I live. He was in many respects, politically for example, quite conservative; in other respects he was not averse to taking risks. He had been, after all, a pilot, often in very remote parts of Australia. He knew the Top End and the Aboriginal communities well. I can remember a night at The Shakespeare when he told many stories about that; we were in the company of my Aboriginal friend Kristina Nehm, who knew the places of which he spoke and had also known Malcolm’s partner.

First through the yum chas organised by Ian Smith (The Empress) and later in a smaller group — myself, Danny Nel (Sirdan), and sometimes others, we had many a Sunday lunch together. I will miss his company terribly. He was a very wise and courageous friend.

His exposure to the HIV virus was, I gather, the result of one of those times, and they can happen, when safe sex practice fails. He became deeply involved in the work of government and non-government agencies dealing with the HIV/AIDS population subsequent to his own infection. He contributed his many organisational and technical skills to those agencies right up to quite recent times.

He also continued his military connections through the RSL and his flying connections through volunteering in the Air Shows at Avalon. You may recall that he astounded everyone by spending a day at the Air Show on 24 March this year, travelling with Sirdan from the Hospice in Sydney to the Avalon Air Show in Victoria (below) to do so. Most people thought he was delusional when he proposed this trip, but he bloody showed them…

That was typical of his spirit. He made it to his 50th birthday on 25 May.

Taken 29 April 2007 in Sacred Heart Hospice Darlinghurst: Malcolm, Neil W, Danny Nel.

The other photos of Malcolm above were taken around 2003-4 (office pic) and during Mardi Gras in February 2005 (the Botanical Gardens pic with the Opera House and Bridge in the background).

The red plane in the text above is a RAAF PC9. The other plane represents the kind of remote location Malcolm often flew to and from as a commercial pilot.


Last year Malcolm and Danny went to the Manly Jazz Festival. Malcolm loved his jazz, and made a convert of Danny.

24 Responses to Malcolm Gordon Gleeson
25 May 1957-01 June 2007
  1. Daniel Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 2:01 pmPeace to him and those who loved him.
  2. ninglun Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 5:48 pmThanks, Daniel.
    I just thought I’d share again the blessing Dorothy McRae-McMahon gave Malcolm earlier this year. He had it on his desk at home beside his computer. I know he appreciated it.


    May the night be calm around you,
    like a cloak of gentleness,
    and the day be filled with moments
    of many gathered gifts.
    May your memories hold you firmly
    into life lived with delight –
    with regrets tossed away,
    and all that is valuable
    cherished and staying close beside you
    to add to your future.
    May your spirit soar into the heights,
    flying free, unfettered by earthly limits,
    and surrounded with clouds of love
    which visit you like every friend you ever had.
    And then may a God,
    who is always filled with kindness,
    bring you rest and peace.

    Love and prayers from me every day
    and from all your friends at South Sydney

    It was beside his computer as he wrote the resume above

  3. Lisa Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 5:53 pmMy condolences and continued prayers for peace, for Malcolm and those who love him.
  4. Thomas Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 6:39 pmI send to you and Malcom’s kin my condolences, as well as my best wishes and prayers.
  5. Legal Eagle Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 7:45 pmMy condolences to Malcolm’s family and friends. I hope he rests in peace. His farewell is beautiful.Neil, I am sure that having people like you and Sirdan who visited regularly and kept in touch made a huge difference.
  6. Davo Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 10:11 pmA life well lived.
  7. Adrian Says:
    June 1, 2007 at 10:45 pmMy prayers and thoughts to Malcolm and you. Malcolm’s farewell is inspiring.
  8. Jim Belshaw Says:
    June 2, 2007 at 4:56 amNeil, I join with the others in passing my condolences on to Malcolm’s family and friends.We all felt that we had come to know him through your writing, so in that sense you made two contributions to him, one a direct personal one, a second in celebrating his life and living in a broader public context. Here I think you also played a part in continuing to break down prejudice by presenting a personal face.I know from personal experience that it is not easy supporting someone in Malcolm’s position. It becomes emotionally very wearing.

    Because I am in Sydney and in fact very close, I thought about attending the funeral. But because I did not know him personally but only through your blog, I am not sure that this would be appropriate.

  9. ninglun Says:
    June 2, 2007 at 5:42 amJim, will email details later on. The funeral will be very low-key, but there will be a memorial service. I spoke to Sirdan about this just now (8 am) and he agrees you are welcome to come, especially in light of what you were in fact able to do for Malcolm. (See Lord Malcolm and the Bureaucrats here and Jim’s Lord Malcolm entry.)Thanks, Adrian, for your email as well. Thanks to all who have commented so far.See also The Sydney Morning Herald.

    Kristina, Sirdan, perhaps M, and I will be having dinner tonight, courtesy of Malcolm, who left a small packet for such purposes.

  10. Renegade Eye Says:
    June 2, 2007 at 7:26 amCondolences.A very nice tribute.
  11. Oscarandre Says:
    June 2, 2007 at 4:12 pmI’m sorry that you have lost Malcolm and glad that he knew your friendship to the end.
  12. JahTeh Says:
    June 2, 2007 at 4:58 pmA life well lived but all too short.
  13. ninglun Says:
    June 2, 2007 at 8:21 pmThat dinner on Malcolm proved pretty amazing!Malcolm would have been smiling. Maybe he is…
  14. s.h. Says:
    June 4, 2007 at 9:47 amHello Neil and Danny.Thank you for these pages of tribute to Malcolm. So much to reflect upon. To be reminded of, to be moved and humbled by.
  15. Kevin Says:
    June 4, 2007 at 10:07 amA send off that put a sad smile on my face. When we die, we should be so lucky as to be remembered this well. You were a good friend to him, Ninglun, and that’s something to be proud of.So shed a tear because he’s gone, or smile because you were lucky enough to know him for a while. Both are helpful. But I hope the smiles win out in the end.
  16. ninglun Says:
    June 4, 2007 at 11:04 amThanks, Kevin. Kevin lives in the USA and has taken a real interest in Malcolm’s story for some time now. Track the Lord Malcolm tag and you will see evidence of that.SH — thanks. An old friend of mine who met Malcolm on quite a few occasions.
  17. MyScribbles: Write-ups of an Afghan Says:
    June 16, 2007 at 3:54 amMay he rest in peace. I offer my condolences to his family and friends.He must be feeling proud of having friends like you who remember him and pay such nice and sincere tributes to him after his passing away.
  18. Norma Says:
    June 20, 2007 at 12:51 pmMy prayers and condolences to all of Malcom’s family and friends. May you all find peace and strength that can only come from within. It was a great pleasure to have known him and work with Malcom at North Aids.Love to all Norma
  19. marcellous Says:
    June 29, 2007 at 12:57 amNeil,Now that it’s too late, I’m sorry I never met Malcolm. Even though I am sure we would have disagreed on quite a lot of things (especially politics and militarism), I can see that he had many other qualities which reached across those black spots on my personal prejudice radar-scanner.I’ve always been a bit shy about funerals and memorials. I would feel a bit impertinent, a bit like turning up far too late to a party, to come to a funeral of a person I never actually knew, even though I know that funerals and memorials are really for those left behind.

    I admire your loyalty to him in his time of need and your faithfulness to his memory.

    I hope (and feel sure) it will all go well and give you and all who knew and loved Malcolm comfort and closure.

  20. Bandit Says:
    June 29, 2007 at 2:46 amFrom all his AGO mates at Airshows DownUnder Mal will be fondly remembered and deeply missed. It was great to be able to see him at Avalon this year albeit tinged with sadness at the ravages the “bastard disease” had wrought.To watch Mal organise a flood of incoming light aircraft at Avalon was a sight to behold and something I don’t think I will easily forget. I doubt ASOG will ever find someone who can run tarmac Tan like Mal. I for one can thank Mal’s patience in imparting his knowledge and experience in dealing with aircraft. One thing I do know is that “The Green Room” wont be quite the same!“Per Ardua Ad Astra” my friend!
  21. Jock Says:
    August 15, 2007 at 5:25 pmDear Friends of Malcolm,I just learned of Mal’s passing, although Mal and I only met during Airshows they were great times. I was always amazed how hard Mal worked and how well organised he was. He always looked after the members of his team. We did not always agree but we never argued, you could always discuss thing with Mal and his stories would keep us awake while driving to Melbourne and back for the Airshow. I’m not sure why the best people you know during your travel through life move on so quickly.You will be sadly missed by many, I’m thankful you are not suffering any more.


  22. ninglun Says:
    August 15, 2007 at 5:34 pm Thanks for that, Jock, on behalf of all Malcolm’s friends. He was certainly admired by many people, and is sadly missed.
  23. pia Says:
    September 27, 2007 at 11:51 am He sounded amazing. A person should be remembered for his stories, vitality, and joy he brings to the world and it
    seems as if he brought all those qualities
  24. Antony Shen Says:
    January 22, 2008 at 1:21 amI am late to hear the news of Malcolm’s passing. May he rest in peace.


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