MH17: Diggers remember player’s parents

Mary and Gerry Menke at the East Gippsland Business Awards in 2013. Photo: Supplied.

Mary and Gerry Menke at the East Gippsland Business Awards in 2013. Photo: Supplied.

The Merimbula Diggers AFL Club will hold a minute’s silence before the game on Saturday in memory of all those lost on MH17 but in particular in memory of Mary and Gerry Menke, whose son, Paul plays for the club.

Last weekend the Diggers wore black armbands when they played an away game in Narooma.

Mary and Gerry Menke and their family had been holidaying in France where they have a home, celebrating Mr Menke’s 70th birthday. The couple were returning from their holiday aboard flight MH17 which was shot down over the Ukraine on Friday, July 18. They have a home and businesses in Mallacoota and have been remembered as a generous and kind-hearted couple who did everything together.

Flowers and condolences adorn the window of Mrs Menke’s seafront hair and beauty salon.

Mr Menke was recognised as an industry pioneer, having been the first in Victoria to establish his Mallacoota abalone pearl business in the late 1990s, after spending 30 years diving in local waters.

Merimbula abalone diver and industry representative John Smythe said Mr Menke had been at the forefront of research into abalone re-seeding and tagging, and his views were valued by the south-east NSW industry.

“He had retired from diving and his sons had taken over that part of the business from him, but he was still very passionate and involved in trying to enhance the industry,” Mr Smythe said.

“Even though he was part of a larger fishery, he was always supportive of us up here,” Mr Smythe said.

President of the Diggers, Chris Hawkins said: “The minute’s silence on Saturday is for everyone on that flight but it really hits home when its one of your own players’ parents.”

Mr and Mrs Menke were among 37 Australians on board MH17, which was shot down over the Ukraine on Friday morning, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

Condolence books have been placed at all electorate offices and council buildings across Victoria and NSW, to allow residents to pay tribute to those on board.

They are available for access from 9am-5pm, from Monday to Friday.

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