Vale, Bro Peter Bostock MM.

14th May 1933 – 5th Dec 2017

From WBro Damien of Lodge Devotion

While interviewing a potential candidate for Lodge Devotion, WBro Stephen Paterson received a sad phone call from his father, RWBro Don Paterson, informing us of the passing of Brother Peter Bostock.

Many current members will not know Bro Peter, but rest assured his friendly and gentlemanly ways influenced many of our long standing members and mentors. He left his mark on us, which is perhaps in turn leaving his mark on you.

Brother Peter joined Freemasonry in Baldwyn Lowick Lodge No 7004 (UGLE) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Peter was Initiated into that Lodge on 1 Dec 1994, Passed 5 Oct 1995 and Raised on 6 June 1996.

Peter Bostock Freemason

Bro Peter Bostock at Lodge Devotion in Sept 2008.

In Melbourne, Brother Peter became a member of The Lodge of Renown No 270, joining on 12 April 2002 remaining a member until that Lodge handed its warrant on 12 December 2003. Many members of Renown; the Brothers Paterson, extended family in Ken Nice and several other friends including Jim Hooper, joined Devotion en masse in 2003. After a period in Lodge of Transition, Peter followed them to Devotion a couple of years later on 27 May 2005. I would imagine it was the fabourable reports and encouragement of the Paterson’s which saw Peter become part of the Devotion Family. This influx of members from Lodge of Renown was critical to Devotion’s success and survival in those years and we would not be the Lodge we are today without them. Peter was part of that.

In a recent email, Bro Simon of Baldwyn Lowick Lodge describes Peter “as a soft, kind perfect Gentleman” and laments his loss. “Gentleman” is certainly an apt word to describe Peter, he was kind, generous, gracious and good company.

RWBro Don Paterson has known Peter, his wife Kamsiah and his children since 1982. Don shares some of Peter’s history;

Peter was the doyen of public relations consultants and had major accounts. When I met him he was the Chairman and CEO of Burston Marsteller (West Pacific) – Japan down the Pacific rim to New Zealand. It was and may still be the largest Public Relations (PR) company in the world. His headquarters were based in Melbourne which he loved. He advertised for an accountant and my late wife Yvonne got the job and she stayed with Peter until he left the company. We became and remained close friends.

Peter had a PR company in Singapore where he had a house and I understand that Burston Marsteller bought him out then employed him giving him a 20% equity in the business. Peter was a very successful businessman, apparently affluent, and he worked hard. When Peter left the company he established a very successful PR business with his wife in Malaysia: Bostock Mohammad PR.

Peter was born in England. His mother, Eleanor May (nee Clarke, 1910-2000), lived to old age and Peter often travelled to England to visit her. Peter’s father was Bertram Wallace Bostock (1906-1953). His parents were both generally known by their middle names and married in 1930. He was educated in a Grammar school. He was commissioned in the RAF and served as a Flight Lieutenant in PR in Cyprus and elsewhere in the Middle-East (1951-1953). He was for a while a journalist at The House of Commons. He was really a world citizen, wildly travelled with a great love of the far-east especially Malaya (as it was then) and Singapore. He also loved Australia, especially Melbourne where he made his home for the last 30 years.

Peter Bostock Freemason

Bro Peter Bostock with RTWBro Andy McKay at a Devotion Social at the German Club, 2008

Peter, hitch-hiking in Colombia, from the cover of his book "Incredible Wanderlust"

In the Bostock Family History, written by John Knight, Peter is described as “..all for the adventurous life”. At twenty in 1953, he went and joined the Kenya Police at the time of the Mau Mau uprising. He was serving there when his father died, which caused him to resign from the Kenya Police. However, he had seen much and was disillusioned with the futile way the war was being conducted; and the ill-treatment of suspects. He wrote an article in The People newspaper, which appeared in February 1954 prompting Parliament to send a six man delegation to check his facts, which broadly upheld his newspaper article. Later travelling to Canada, Peter also worked and wrote for the Daily Standard and Freeholder, published in Cornwall, Ontario. Next, after working as a truck driver he arrived in Vancouver and worked for the Vancouver Sun newspaper. After that job he set out with just £100 down the, as yet, incomplete 12,000 mile Pan American Highway to Buenos Aires. He recorded this journey in his aptly named book "The Incurable Wanderlust" published 1965. Peter’s other published books include "The Great Atlantic Air Race", (published 1970), “Toelogy” (1979), “Crisis Public Relations” (1987) and, as editor, “Economic Diplomacy”, 1978. The “Great Atlantic Air Race” was the product of his time as Air Correspondent of the Daily Sketch, where he was asked to undertake the day to day organisation and running of a transatlantic air race from London to New York, which was sponsored by the Daily Sketch, the Daily Mail and the Evening News. The Air Race, held in May 1969, was an outstanding success, and Peter's account in his book “makes good reading”. Peter’s encouragement for Devotion News takes on extra meeting in the context of him being a journalist and a published author.

Don Paterson continues: “Peter married four times, first to an English woman (Valerie 1959 in London) and then to Anne (Valerie Anne 1968 Hants, possibly Canada), well known then in the media circles. There were no children from these marriages. Peter’s travels included walking from the north to the south of the Americas accounted in his book “The Incurable Wanderlust.” Peter also wrote a book on “Toeology”, a humorous book comparing the reading of toes with the reading of hands. I was present at social event when a society lady insisted that Peter read her toes to which he said that he would but first she would have to remove her panty-hose – it just about brought the house down.

Peter’s third wife was a Singapore Chinese (Kiat 1971 Singapore) and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Claire.

Peter’s fourth wife was Kamsiah, a Malaysian from Malacca and they were married (in 1976) for over 40 years. Their children are Adam and Farah. Adam is in the media business and Farah teacher at Lauriston and is a fluent French linguist. Both live in Melbourne.

Kamsiah was educated in a Catholic Convent run by Irish Nuns, completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Malaysia then went to the US to do her Masters before working there and it made her a very well rounded, balanced person. Peter became a Muslim to marry Kamsiah: He once confided to me that he was as good a Muslim as he was once a Christian. He said that they were married by the chief mufti in KL. Peter thinks many of their middle-eastern counterparts are mad. Peter once told me he was a socialist: a “Lee Kuan Yew socialist” which means that he was somewhere further right than what we have here but enormously successful in Singapore and elsewhere.

It was through Peter that I saw a Malaysia that was not seen during the two years that I spent there as an army officer. Kamsiah was from the Straits settlement of Malacca so we were introduced to Nyonya cuisine which combines the Malay with Chinese and other cosines especially from Goa. His Malaysian Lodge was established in 1951 to allow men of all ethnic backgrounds to join and it was also met in the embassy area of Kuala Lumpur. It attracted men of high community standing one of which we entertained here in Melbourne: the late WBro Felix Abishaganadan, a former editor of the renowned Straits Times and a well known journalist in Asia. In his obituary, Brother Peter’s friend was described “ In his 62 years as a journalist and PR practitioner, Abisheganaden achieved iconic status in both fields…….Abisheganaden, up close and personal, was a big man with a big heart”. Such were Peter’s friends. I wonder how many know that they were Brothers in Freemasonry and in the same Lodge?

He told me the Masonic Centre was closed and the lodge moved to “the boon-docks”, membership slumped and community standing and support fell (does that sound familiar?) It had been like a special city club for community leaders, professions particularly in the medical fraternity, the media, and politicians. However when I last visited a roof tiler was about to go into the Chair so it as not elitist. Peter and Kamsiah hosted us when we travelled to and from Europe and for a special lodge function on our way to Thailand. They drove us on a tour on northern Malaya where I served. They had our sons for holidays.

Peter was a most generous man. He mixed freely in the company of Cabinet Ministers, Judges and community leaders. When my late mother-in-law developed cancer and her husband WBro Ken had a heart attack, they had to return to Melbourne and we had not at this time established ourselves here. So without hesitation Peter gave them sole use of his home in Toorak for some 18 months.

I had the honour of proposing Peter as a Joining Member of The Lodge of Renown and later Lodge Devotion. He was a dedicated member but had difficulty attending in his last years. Earlier, his international living arrangements saw him in Melbourne for half the year, and KL for the rest.

Peter was a man who had “presence”. He was well liked and clearly very successful. He has been most generous to his children, all of whom travelled from afar to be with him at the end. When he became very infirm some six or seven years ago he said to me all that now mattered to him was personal relationships. This, on consideration, seems to be a fair distillation of what life is about but I would add that it should be in the context of the succession of our blood-line because that is how most of us are made.

I have tremendous admiration for Peter’s wife Kamsiah, who dedicated herself to caring for him over these last years and nursing him at home until he finally had to be admitted into palliative care. Physically and emotionally it has been very demanding. She has great courage. She told me the other day that she intends leave Toorak where she now lives to return to Kuala Lumpur. We should wish her well.

Those that knew Peter will all miss him – he lived respected and his passing is regretted.