Reginald (Reg) Trebilco, passed away peacefully, in his sleep, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.
Reg was a respected artist of considerable talent, a gentleman and a scholar. His life of 101 years, spanned the transition from horse and cart and steam engine to intergalactic space exploration. He watched the boom and bust of many industries, the rise of consumerism and the advance of technology. He never used a mobile phone or a computer.
Reginald Trebilco was born on November 28, 1915, on Higher Downs, Feock, Cornwall. His heritage can be traced back to 14th century. His father’s occupation was a ‘woodsman’ attached to a local estate. Reg was born one of a twin. His twin sister, Nora died in 1996 and his older brother Frank died in 1998.
His childhood despite the challenges of poverty was idyllic. His learned the art of growing vegetables from his mother, who he loved with a deep admiration. His father, an amateur poet, encouraged his son to explore cultural pursuits. Reg spent many an hour, roaming around old cathedrals and castles studying the architecture. In his early twenties, Reg spent five years studying art, initially on a two-year scholarship with Arthur Jackson, and later again on a three-year scholarship with Lord Methuen at the Royal West of England Academy, an offshoot of the Royal Academy of Art.
He had a remarkable general knowledge which he generously shared with others. He was not afraid to bowl Tony Abbott up in a Launceston street, during political campaigns and challenge his party to address unemployment with statistics on the death of the Tasmanian manufacturing industry.
He greatly feared that the ‘turn of the world lay in the hands of multi-nationalists’.
Reg’s deep unwavering faith and optimism, served him well through his British military service during WWII. Reg volunteered and served in the Royal Air Force as an aviation mechanic. After six months with Bomber Command he was transferred to the Fleet Air Arm sailing on the Atlantic Andes and HMS Malagas.
He was fortunate not to fall victim to the Admiral Graf Spee, the most famous of the German naval warships that sank many British ships during that time. During war he kept journals, filled with detailed pencil sketches of his Cornish home drawn from memories and sketches of his time in South Africa. In the final four months of the war, he was attached to an aircraft salvage unit in Somerset. There he met Mary (Molly), who would later become his wife.
Molly, a qualified nurse was born in the same year. At the end of the war, Reg was discharged and given the ‘princely sum of 120 Pounds Sterling’. In 1953 Reg and Molly, immigrated to Australia, settling on a bush block in Brisbane. They built their home, brick by brick and raised a garden of great beauty and practical purpose. The couple demonstrated an early commitment to organic gardening principles, recycling and environmentalism.
Reg and Molly had two children, a son born in 1959 and a daughter in 1961. They remained living in Brisbane until 1983, when they moved to Tasmania to Green’s Beach in search of a cooler climate. Their new home backed onto the Green’s Beach Golf Course and over the years, while they never learnt to play, they would hand back buckets of golf balls that had made their way into their expansive garden.
In 1995, they moved to Longford where they remained until Molly’s death in 2003. Reg’s career included working for GKN Engineering, a subsidiary of BHP, as an estimator and quantity surveyor where his technical drawing skills and understanding of building construction was reflected in his artistic work.
Reg held five one-man exhibitions, under the banner of ‘Our Vanishing Heritage’ at McInnes Art Galleries, Brisbane, during the Bjelke Petersen era of the ‘70’s. One such exhibition was opened by Mr Peter Forrest, Hon. Sec. National Trust of Queensland and the Australian Council of the National Trust.
Reg’s exhibition at the Galloway Gallery featured his work alongside those of Pro Hart, Norma Dickason, Ralph Wilson, Kenneth Wenzel and Max Boyd. His talent was described as ‘the best of Brisbane’s Historic Architecture transcribed into paint by an artist of immense talent’.
His work is featured in many galleries and private collections including AMP, Westpac, ANZ, Queensland State Government, Brisbane City Council and Alcan Canadian Aluminium.
He has raised thousands of dollars for charity by the donation of works of art, with recipients of his generosity including the Launceston Presbyterian Homes for the Aged, Rotary Club of Northern Launceston, Launceston General Hospital and St Margaret’s College for Ladies, Ascot Brisbane.
Most recently Reg, gave an interview at the Launceston Artists Society 125th anniversary celebrations at the QVMAG, which displayed his work, ‘Clarendon 2012’.
An advocate of health living, Reg adopted a simple diet of unprocessed foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and ample clean water. He has featured in Lifestyle magazines, Centrelink’s News for Seniors (June 2014) and has been a regular contributor to The Examiner.
The secret to retirement is keeping busy, said Reg. His other interests include the environment, astronomy and helping others. ‘I meet a lot of people and I’m only too pleased to help them. That’s good for mankind and good for your health.’
If a good life is one that includes the love of others, the opportunity to serve society and one in which your individuality is realised through self-expression, then Reginald Trebilco is among the lucky of us that can claim to be lived such a life.
Devoted husband of Mary (Molly), beloved father of Tegan and Richard, grandfather to Jayden, Lachlan, Adam and Melanie, great grandfather to Noah and Logan, Reginald leaves an everlasting legacy in the values of his loving family.
Deeply loved and admired by many, who had the pleasure of knowing him. Despite never embracing the use of technology, Reg would be highly amused that he is leaving a digital footprint behind.