FIVE decades after embarking on a career that led to him being Australia’s spy boss and ambassador to the US, Dennis Richardson returned to his old Albury school on Tuesday.
The AO recipient was at Xavier High School to launch a 170-page book tracing Catholic education in Albury.
Xavier High School – A History of Catholic Education in Albury was written by alumni Greg Ryan.
When Mr Richardson, 71, graduated from the Fallon Street campus it was known as Aquinas College.
Sent there by his parents who worked at Albury railway station, mum as a barmaid and dad as a shunter, Mr Richardson said the enduring lessons of the school were stark.
“Simply a requirement to work hard and discipline, instilled through Christian Brothers authoritarian rule, combined with a love of sport,” Mr Richardson said.
The director of the Canberra Raiders rugby league club played in the first XVIII football side, captained the swimming team and was part of the athletics squad.
His appearance on Tuesday was the first formal visit to the school by the former director-general of ASIO since he left in 1964.
“It’s great to see the school developed the way it has,” Mr Richardson said.
“The fact it has a relationship with a school in China and community aid program with Thailand, an immersion program to engage with indigenous cultures – all of those are real positives that weren’t around when I was here at the school.
“There are much broader horizons.”
Mr Ryan was commissioned by Xavier High principal Gavin Dykes last February and its publication in 2018 coincides with sesquicentenary of the Sisters of Mercy arriving in Albury.
However, the first Catholic school was established in 1855 on the corner of Hume and Townsend streets where the Plush furniture store is located.
In addition to Mr Richardson, noted alumni of Catholic schools in Albury include three judges, tennis champion Margaret Court, 2017 Senior Australian of the Year nun Sister Anne Gardiner, Brownlow medallist Dinny Ryan and former federal attorney-general Michael Duffy, who wrote the foreward for Mr Ryan’s book.
Xavier High School – A History of Catholic Education retails for $35 and is being sold in Albury at the school, library-museum and Dymocks book store.