John McMillan: 1945 - 2020
Last week I attended the funeral of former Portland principal and good friend John McMillan in Sydney. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Margaret and his three children, Alistair and wife Madeleine, Robert and Jane and grandchildren Frances and Astrid
John was principal at Portland Central School from 1982 until the end of 1987. John was very well liked and an extremely good principal and his family were the last to live in the school residence in Vale Street with some of the primary classrooms now are.
John arrived in Portland from Werris Creek following teaching in some small schools prior to that. After Portland, John was the principal at Cabramatta and finally at Dennistone East (near Ryde).
McMillan children Alistair, Robert and Jane all of course went to school at Portland. The boys were a few years older than Jane and still have fond memories of the early teenage years in Portland.
Some of the important milestones that John was heavily involved in included the highly successful school Centenary in 1984 which culminated in a ball for over 800 people in a large circus tent on the side of the community centre.
John was also principal and help to take the big step to starting years 11 and 12 at the school.
Probably John's greatest legacy in Portland was the community centre itself. Following the great success of the Centenary ball and the school seeing the need for an enclosed area for sport and assemblies, the push was on for a permanent structure.
As it turned out, John found strong allies and Terry (Cloudy) Day, Yvonne Grove and the school sport staff. With the backing for the project from the no-nonsense state member, Mick Clough the plan was hatched in the community centre built. Not before a colossal fundraising effort.
Clandestine card games, two-up, walkathons, and concerts were all part of the effort and John was in the middle of it all, especially the concerts where his musical and organisational talent shone.
Outside of school, John could be seen around town having a drink and a chat with just about everyone. He will be remembered fondly for his friendliness, honesty, enthusiasm and his community involvement.
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