Frank Fenner passes away

johnboy 22 November 2010 24

ANU are announcing the death of Emeritus Professor Frank Fenner AC.

“He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by academics, students and all of us at ANU, and many people elsewhere.

“His contribution, at and to ANU, to the nation, and indeed the world, is difficult to quantify because it is so wide-ranging.

Amongst many achievements the long time Canberra resident eradicated smallpox.

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24 Responses to Frank Fenner passes away
Clown Killer Clown Killer 10:59 pm 23 Nov 10

Can I pass you another shovel?

breda breda 7:49 pm 23 Nov 10

“you know well that the Riot-Act is not the place for respect for the dead. Witness the Mully threads.”

You are comparing Frank Fenner to Mully?

You need help – and that is a charitable assessment.

I-filed I-filed 7:48 pm 23 Nov 10

Clown Killer, no hole. The Riotact is a local forum. Indeed, federal politics topics aren’t cased here. The topics are parochial. Frank Fenner’s death is posted here because he’s local. His water use is therefore at least as relevant on this particular forum as his international regard. Possiby even more so.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 6:36 pm 23 Nov 10

Dude, normally when you find yourself at the bottom of a very deep hole, the accepted practice is to quit digging, but by all means, continue …

I-filed I-filed 6:22 pm 23 Nov 10

Well Clown-Killer, you know well that the Riot-Act is not the place for respect for the dead. Witness the Mully threads. Watering legally and profligately is one thing – being a hypocrite e.g. taking a public stance as an environmentalist while doing said watering is quite another. Denying Fenner’s flawed behaviour in this aspect of his life is optional. I choose not to.

edlang edlang 10:45 am 23 Nov 10

I worked at JCSMR for a few years in the early 2000s. Like many there, I was amazed by Frank’s stamina: even as an emeritus professor, he would be the first to arrive at work, staying until late in the day. I don’t think any of us wanted the next day to be Frank’s last.

While I was there, Frank shared an area (office? I forget) with Gordon Ada, who is still alive. I hope Gordon gets to speak at Frank’s funeral!

Mr_Shab Mr_Shab 9:40 am 23 Nov 10

Jeeze I-filed. We see some blowhardery on this site, but that really takes the cake. That’s got to be one of the most small-minded, petty, pathetic pieces of niggling I’ve ever seen.

Given Frank Fenner’s contributions to virology (which were nothing short of world-changing), and his ongoing philanthropy, I think we can turn a blind eye when he uses a licensed bore to water his property. Christ, I think almost everybody in the city would be more than happy to let Frank have a few more litres on them.

If that’s the best you’ve got in terms of denegrating the man, then I’d say he is damned near perfect.

NoaddedMSG @#8 – I’m sure that Fenner and Clunies-Ross would have been pretty certain that injecting themselves with Myxomavirus wasn’t going to kill them before they went ahead and did it. They certainly weren’t stupid. What the true facts of the matter are, you’ve got to admire the showmanship and the clever way they defused a potentially very volatile situation.

Jerry Atric Jerry Atric 8:27 am 23 Nov 10

Frank Fenner established the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies in 1973, doing what he called “a lateral arabesque”. The first major project of CRES was the study of the Murray Darling Basin environment and economy, in collaboration with the Academy of Science. It failed to get political support because of the poisonous relationship between the Federal (Labor) and NSW (Liberal) governments. If it had been followed through, we may not have the mess we now have.

Frank was not out there eradicating smallpox, he was the Chair of the UN committee that oversaw it, and he went to Africa to certify the last death from the disease. While he gave huge and quite private support to environmental projects, he always remained a virologist at heart.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 7:39 am 23 Nov 10

I think that selfish attitude was a great stain on his character.

Seriously? For watering a garen with a legal and licensed bore? Are you on drugs?

CraigT CraigT 6:50 am 23 Nov 10

The point about the selfish and profligate use of groundwater is a good one to make, as others in Red Hill are still at it.

WillowJim WillowJim 10:52 pm 22 Nov 10

I-filed said :

As I stated, I happen to think that quietly using bore water on a big lawn in Canberra was pretty poor and self-centred behaviour on his part.

No, you said it was a “great stain on his character”. Most people would take to mean that you believe Fenner’s use of bore water (legally, however morally wrong it was to you) effectively cancels out his many great qualities.

Let’s remember some of those qualities: bravery (injecting himself with a trial smallpox vaccine), determination (lobbying for years to ensure it was used effectively around the world), polymathy (have a flick through his bibliography) and compassion (an immense amount of philanthropy, especially around Canberra).

But hey: he used groundwater to keep his garden alive.

breda breda 9:54 pm 22 Nov 10

Unlike, presumably, your life, which is studded with world class achievements AND perfect conduct in every other way. Not a hint of ‘pretty poor and self-centred behaviour’, ever, right? No other human failings?

You can’t weasel out of it. There are people on this site who could weasel, and have weaselled, for Australia (only in the national interest, of course!) and are therefore not likely to fall for this lame attempt. There are also numerous gifted amateurs …

I-filed I-filed 9:01 pm 22 Nov 10

WillowJim said :

Fenner was a giant. I wonder by how far you fall short.

Indeed. I’m not interested in hagiography regarding Fenner, though. If you feel impelled to swear about my comment, do keep in mind that Fenner himself never expressed anger, so as his admirer you might like to follow one of his (many) good qualities. As I stated, I happen to think that quietly using bore water on a big lawn in Canberra was pretty poor and self-centred behaviour on his part.

WillowJim WillowJim 8:26 pm 22 Nov 10

I-filed said :

I think that selfish attitude was a great stain on his character.

As RiotACT quite rightly has moderated comments, I can’t say how I feel about what you wrote. I just wanted to let you know that.

Fenner was a giant. I wonder by how far you fall short.

NoAddedMSG NoAddedMSG 8:13 pm 22 Nov 10

I should add that he contributed very generously to Fenner Hall, financially and with his time. Each year there are quite a number of people there who have their rent subsidised by an endowment from him, and he was still attending events there.

breda breda 7:57 pm 22 Nov 10

Boo to those slagging off Fenner. For his contributions on malaria, smallpox and myxomatosis, he achieved more in a lifetime than 10,000 petty detractors could dream of.

He could have watered his lawn with Moet for all it matters compared to his contributions.

Pygmies, begone!

NoAddedMSG NoAddedMSG 7:41 pm 22 Nov 10

Fenner Hall’s mascot is a bunny.

I had a big ol yarn with someone once who told me that he used to be a techie in the Fenner lab and he accidentally gave himself a needle-stick injury with a myxomatosis-contaiminated needle somewhat before the famous injecting incident, the implication being that they were well aware due to accidental human testing that it wasn’t going to infect them.

I-filed I-filed 5:35 pm 22 Nov 10

Great man on the science front – less so on the eco front, I’m afraid. Fenner was notorious for watering an acre of green lawn on his massive Red Hill block from a private bore, freely availing himself of OUR precious groundwater throughout the worst of the recent drought – while lending his name to all sorts of environmental causes that incorporated water care and conservation. I think that selfish attitude was a great stain on his character.

Clown Killer Clown Killer 4:55 pm 22 Nov 10

The world is a poorer place with the death of Frank Fenner. Luckily for all of us, the legacy that he has bequeathed us enriches us all. Thank you.

gun street girl gun street girl 4:39 pm 22 Nov 10

Peewee Slasher said :

This man deserves a state funeral.


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