Vale Dean Stanley Overton ESM – dedicated to community

A memorial for Dean Stanley Overton ESM will be held at the Kangaroo Island Yacht Club on Thursday, January 17 at 2pm – this would have been his 77th birthday. 

Dean’s remains will be scattered at a later date when the family members from the mainland are able to attend.

At the memorial all who attend can they please bring something to share in the way of food. The family says anyone who wishes to say something on the day, please feel free to do so. 

This is mainly a gathering of people who knew and wish to remember him, and who could not get to his cremation in Adelaide. 

Dean was born at Clare, South Australia, on January 17, 1941 to Wilfred Stanley and Olive May Overton (nee Fidler).

He has one sibling, an older sister Elaine. They resided at Blyth where Wilf worked as a baker for Len Harmer, who had a butcher and bakers’ shop.

The family moved to Auburn when Dean was four and he started his education there.

Here in Auburn, Wilf and May had a delicatessen bakery with May’s parents for a few years.

When this folded, the family moved on to Orroroo, for a few years, then back to Blyth and then on to Saddleworth, where Dean completed his primary education.

He attended Riverton High School for two years of secondary education. 

Dean had a lifetime interest in photography, but at various times in his life – life became more important than the camera.  

In 1955, he joined the Postmaster General’s Department as a junior postal officer, delivering telegrams and mail during the day and manning the telephone exchange during the night on alternate weeks.

Two stories that he told about this time are when he was once delivering the mail by his pushbike. 

Apparently, Dean often sorted the mail while riding his bike – he did this by peddling, and sorting steering the bike with his knees. 

He was doing this one day when he hit a stationary car, breaking his collar bone.  The other story was of how he answered the phone as a switchboard operator – he didn’t ask the caller for number please but would state “hairy knees please”. Typical Dean humour.  

After two years, he decided on a career change and applied to become a technician in training.  He was accepted and started training January 1957.

During his training years he became a volunteer with the Emergency Fire Service, which later became the Country Fire Service. 

He also joined the Citizen Military Forces, where he served for nine years in Royal Australian Signal Corp. He qualified as a Sergeant and acted in that capacity but was never formally appointed.

Most of his PMG training years were spent in the Adelaide Franklin Telephone Exchange, and on qualifying he was appointed to Long Line and Country Installation based at Bowden.

During his years of training, Dean would work for his cousin Margaret’s husband Nigel Buick on his cray boat off Kangaroo Island in his holidays. 

He circumnavigated KI three times before ever stepping foot ashore.

During his first visit to Kingscote he went with a crew mate to the local store Ottim Singhs’ where he met 16-year-old Beverley Maeling Pitt. 

Sparks flew and they became initially a long-distance couple until Bev began nursing in Adelaide, when they became inseparable.

Soon he started looking for a job elsewhere as he was on the verge of getting married, but if he had remained in the installation area it was highly probable that he would have been sent to the Northern Territory for at least two years. 

No women were allowed in this location, so he found a temporary appointment in his old hometown of Saddleworth. 

In December 1962, Dean married Beverley Maeling Pitt at the Clayton Wesley Uniting Church at the Parade Norwood.

His temporary appointment ended up being a nine-year stint.

During this time, he resumed volunteer working with Country Fire Service, and also became involved with Civil Defence, which later becoming the State Emergency Service. 

Dean was asked by the State Emergency Service if he would be willing to become trained as a rescue instructor. Hhe agreed and subsequently qualified at Mt Macedon Training Area in Victoria in 1967. 

In 1971, Saddleworth was amalgamated into the Clare District and there was no position left for Dean so he started looking for another position.

As luck would have it there was a vacancy on Kangaroo Island, which he managed to get. When he asked Beverley if she would like to go home - she said “Yes please!”.

On Kangaroo Island, Dean worked his way through the ranks and for the last few years he was a Senior Telecommunications Technical Officer Grade 2 and was in charge of the telephone exchanges and interconnections between them for Kangaroo Island.

He was made redundant from Telstra after 42 years’ of service.

During his service, he saw many changes in a short span from telephonists making all the connections, to the customers being able to dial their own numbers across the world.

On moving to the Island, there was no SES, but there was CFS so both Dean and Bev volunteered.

Soon Beverley became the base radio operator, and later they were both made life members of the Kingscote CFS brigade.

Dean and Beverley both enjoyed travelling within Australia and covered thousands of kilometres seeing many aspects of Australia.

They started out tenting, upgraded to a camper trailer in which they had one trip that lasted seven months, up through the centre to Darwin back to Katherine then across to Western Australia and down the west coast, through the south west of Western Australia back across the Nullabor.

They made it to Cape Yorke, went whale watching in Queensland and South Australia, swam with manta rays at Ningaloo reef Western Australia and travelled through Victoria, and up the east coast using an Avan caravan to visit with their second daughter in Queensland.

Dean and Beverley have two daughters, four grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren up to 2018, with another great-grandson due to be born in March 2019.

When Dean realised that he had a permanent job on the Island, Beverley and himself decided that they should build their own house on a block of land Beverley owned at 1 Nepean Avenue, Kingscote.

After deciding on a house plan, their next challenge was to find a builder, but there were none available for 12 to 18 months, so they became owner builders.

Dean constructed the house on weekends, evenings and holidays and took accrued long service leave.

He subcontracted the services of an electrician, a plumber and a bricklayer, all the rest he done himself with help from Beverley, his daughters, workmates and friends – the latter people with assistance of some kegs of beer.

There was no ready-mix concrete at this time, and soon the locals would come around to the house to see what the Overtons were up to on weekends. 

All of the built-in cupboards were built by Dean, with the frequent assistance of his eldest daughter Jo-anne. 

Both Jo-anne and Donna took great delight in climbing the frame of the building and roaming along the top of the frames.

In the early 1970s Dean had a health scare and was advised to stop smoking and learn to relax more.

About this this time Beverley had become interested in native plants, so Dean dug out his camera that had been in mothballs for a few years and started photographing the native plants.

Before long Beverley’s interest became a part time job, so to help fund this interest they produced a poster and booklet.

Later together they produced two books on native plants, and in conjunction with the Kangaroo Island Flora and Fauna Club and orchid group, they produced their last book on native orchids.  All of these were self-funded. 

In 1980, a SES Unit was formed on Kangaroo Island. Both Dean and Bev became involved in the formation.

Soon Dean took on the role of Training Instructor and Deputy Controller and Training Officer for the formative years of the unit with Bev being the secretary.

Because of his of his employment being on call in rotation with other staff 24/7, he was not able take the lead role of Controller. Dean became unit manager of Kangaroo Island SES and was active in the unit until his mid-70s.

In 2002, he was recognised for his voluntary service in the Australia Day Honour’s List and was awarded the Emergency Services Medal (ESM).

He was made a life member SES in 2003. Dean has given in excess of 50 years volunteer service to CFS, SES, and CMF over the years. He has been awarded a National Medal and three bars. 

For those who don’t know, the National Medal recognizes 15 years’ service, and each bar recognizes each additional 10 years’ service. This would make 45 of his years were recognised.  

In addition to his volunteer work with the SES and CFS he was involved in various environmental groups and parks groups and in very recently he also became involved with the Kangaroo Island Men’s Shed.  

Dean was father of Jo-anne and Donna, father-in-law to Bruce; grandfather of Christopher, Justin, Shaun and Kathryn Graham; great grandfather to Blake, Tahilya, Mason and ½ Graham ; Chantel, Aiden, Sara and Layla Graham ; Ike, Asta and Amora [twins] Graham. 

When Dean began to have grandchildren, he was not really sure what to do with all of these little boys.

He grew up with only a sister and later had two daughters, girls he understood boys not so much. 

Things changed when his only granddaughter was born. Jo-anne remembers him coming into the hospital hours after Kathryn was born, mumbling under his breath a girl, I know what to do with one of these. 

After this he became very involved in his grandchildren’s lives.  

Throughout his marriage, his priorities were Beverley, his girls and as they came along grand children and great grandchildren, his photography and supporting Beverley in her botany, then his commitments to the various volunteer groups. 

He was a very giving man with an interesting sense of humour.  Because he was so quiet many people incorrectly thought that Beverley was the head of the family. 

Dean just let her be his voice but he was very definitely the boss of the house and their relationship. 

Anyone who seen Dean probably noticed the two or three books nearby but what most might not realise is that he was reading them all at the same time. Multitasks were not beyond him.  

Over his life Dean had survived a head-on accident where a car and truck collided; being in a township surrounded by fire; a heart attack at about 41; prostrate cancer; quadruple heart bypass; and more recently several health scares relating to his kidneys. 

Right up until his body gave out his brain and thoughts were of what still needed to be done.  Jo-anne has been stating that his brain wanted to stay but his body said enough.  

We will all miss him and love him.  

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