Garry and Bev O’Connell

The O'Connell family

The O’Connell family

I first met the O’Connells at our Australia Day and Waitangi Day function in February. We sat at the same table enjoying the great food and I was intrigued to learn how they came to be in Winnipeg. Hopefully you will as well.

Garry was born in Perth, WA on January 1st. His primary school was at Mary’s Mount, and secondary to junior certificate at Trinity College. He started at University of WA in engineering, and in 1976 graduated as an Associate in Civil Engineering from Curtin University. Like many down under types, he then travelled around Europe for six months.

Back in Perth, Garry started working for the Concrete Division of Bell Group for several years as Technical Manger of Concrete Operations (WA). It was during this time that he met Beverly, and in 1979, they were married.

From 1980 to 1982, they were in London, England, where she studied at Lewisham Hospital. Then it was six months touring Europe in a Kombi Van, and in 1982 they were back in Perth.

Garry went back to Bell Group, (which was later purchased by Boral Resources), in Concrete and Quarries until 1994. He then joined Buckeridge Group, a large construction company and become General Manager of Concrete and Asphalt to 2000. His next move was to Geelong, Victoria, where he joined CSR Readymix as Area Manager until 2012.

Bev Mariano’s parents were caught up in the Burma turmoil following World War II, and moved to India when it was a British colony where Bev was born. She started primary school there, and when the family moved to Perth, continued at St Joachim’s Primary School and then did her high school at Mount Lawley Senior High. In 1974, she began her nursing training at Royal Perth Hospital, earning her RN designation. She worked in hospitals and acute care institutions in Perth.

As mentioned above, they went to London, UK, where she took an accident and emergency course, on returning to Perth she was appointed as a Charge Nurse at Sir Charles Gardner Hospital Accident and Emergency Department until 1985.

Bev then took time out to start a family. Adam, now 27, is a CA in London, England, and Luke is finishing up his CA in Melbourne. (How spread out can they be?!)

Bev went back to university big time, completing a Bachelor of Nursing, Master of Science, and a PhD. In 1997, she was promoted to Senior Lecturer of Nursing Students and Director of Nursing Research at Curtin University. In 2000, she took up a position at Deakin University in Melbourne as Professor of Nursing until 2012.

Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba had set up an international search for a Dean of the Faculty of Nursing . Bev applied, was one of three finalists, and came to Winnipeg in February 2012 to be interviewed by a selection panel. She got the job, but only after a labour market opinion was rendered and a work permit granted from Australia. In October 2012, Bev and Garry moved here after an eight-week holiday in Europe.

And the DUCW connection? As some point, the University of Manitoba provided a limo for them to take a look around Winnipeg. The driver was Scandinavian, and picking up on their accent, mentioned there was a club here that meets at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre. They joined the DUCW straight away.

So, although Bev’s term here is for only five years, maybe they will become enamoured of our crisp winters and stifling summers, and decide to stay. We certainly hope so.

Gordon Keatch

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