Gardener memories flourish

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
St John parishioner's Owen Coppen and Garry Whitwell with Reverand John Abraham in the garden tended by Joe Burdass.
Camera IconSt John parishioner's Owen Coppen and Garry Whitwell with Reverand John Abraham in the garden tended by Joe Burdass. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Beloved St John’s Church garden gnome team member William Joseph Burdass is being remembered for his dedication to the church after he was killed in a car accident returning from Esperance at Christmas.

Mr Burdass’ daughter Jill Fitzpatrick said her father, known as Joe, took tremendous pride in his time in the church garden.

“Dad was never happier than when he was in a garden,” he said.

“His time in St John’s garden was a labour of love.

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“Its reward was in creating a beautiful, welcoming space that could be enjoyed by everyone and the connections he made with so many people while doing it.”

Mr Burdass worked with the Department of Agriculture and one of his first roles was in advocating for funds for the Rural Crisis Fund in support of Wheatbelt parishes.

In the late 1980s, he and his wife Margaret moved to Albany, where Mr Burdass was officer-in-charge of the Albany Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture.

The pair became parishioners at St John’s Church in York Street, where church warden John Blake said Mr Burdass was a pastoral assistant to many of their priests, as well as a chorister.

“Joe became the champion for the ongoing development and care of St John’s gardens, which were already then nearly 150 years old,” he said. “The gardens are across the entire one hectare of the St John’s grounds on Central York Street. Joe’s passion for plants — annuals, perennials including creepers and trees — is reflected in the renowned beauty of the St John’s gardens.

“He was universally regarded as a gentleman with the generosity of spirit we all aspire.” Rev. John Abraham was the rector when the Burdasses arrived in Albany and recalls fond memories of travelling to many remote Wheatbelt parishes with Mr Burdass.

Mr Burdass’s funeral will be at St John’s Church at 2pm tomorrow.

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