Obituary Laurie O'Brien

When the Fitzroy History Society was formed, fittingly, the first meeting of the newly formed committee was held at 35 Hanover Street, Fitzroy, the home of Laurie O’Brien. Laurie was to be an indefatigable champion of the Society and its charter to promote the history of the suburb over the next decades.

In particular, the 1980s proved an important decade in the development of the Society’s historical program. In the mid-1980s, the City of Fitzroy employed Shirley Metcalfe to work out of the Social Planning Office to support community groups. The History Society was one of the beneficiaries and a committee consisting of Laurie, Mary Lewis, Suzanne Dance, Rosemary Kiss, Shirley Metcalfe and myself commenced to organise a photographic exhibition of Fitzroy. This exhibition – “Fitzroy: Lost and Found” – was held in April 1986 at the Fitzroy Town Hall and caused much excitement for old residents returned as well as current residents of the suburb.

Such was the interest in Fitzroy generated by the exhibition that the committee, now without Shirley, decided to expand the brief and produce a history of the suburb. This was to be Fitzroy: Melbourne’s First Suburb published in 1989.

In both these undertakings, Laurie’s role was immense. Her commitment to meticulous research, her attention to all the details of publishing a manuscript and, throughout, her immense goodwill to all involved in the project. She was, indeed, a true friend to Fitzroy.

June Senyard


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