1990s >> 1997 >> no-1118-october-1997

Obituary: Peter Furey (1913-1997)

It is with profound regret that the World Socialist Party (New Zealand) inform members and supporters of the passing of Peter Furey.

Peter was one of the longest serving members. Joining the party in 1945, he was one of the nicest and genuine of persons I ever met. If ever there was a “misnomer”, it was in Peter’s surname, for I am sure a more gentler and honest person never lived. In world war 2 Peter was an objector going to what he referred to as the concentration camp at Ohakune, a very bleak and cold place in winter. Peter never said much about his sufferings behind the wire, and later on in Auckland’s dungeon Mount Eden prison, but he referred me to a book in the library, and my heart went out to those brave men and women who refuse to bear arms against fellow workers who they have never met. Some of the things they did to them—for instance, deliberately turning off the hot water when they returned covered in mud from the fields after drain laying, road making, forestry work etc. One fiendish trick they tried was to take all the bedding and blankets  from the single person tiny huts, but placing the King’s uniform with warm flannel underwear, greatcoat, etc. on a chair. However not one of them cracked. Not only Socialists but Quakers, Pacifists and other religious people offered this. After the war they were not allowed to vote for ten years. So much for their much the ruling class’s rhetoric about democracy! Peter lived in Australian for a while where he taught Marxian economics at Victoria Labour College.

Socialists and supporters of the Auckland branch farewelled Peter in what I feel sure a ceremony he would have liked. The service was performed by a member of the NZ Society of Rationalist’s and humanists. How refreshingly different from the usual claptrap spouted by the clergy. At the funeral parlour we sang “Imagine” very fervently and just as fervently at the grave, as Peter was laid to rest we sang the “Red Flag”. Farewell Peter and one last thing (with tongue in cheek of course). If there is a Heaven, well it won’t be contaminated with the capitalist class—for have not the bead-and-cassock brigade bashed our ears constantly about the camel and the eye of a needle!

Jim Ryder

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