Darrell Tryon (1942-2013): A Personal Tribute

tryon_rspasBy Prof. Brij V Lal, Pacific and Asian History, ANU.

By now you all will have heard of Darrell Tryon’s passing. A full account will appear in due course on his life and contribution, but for now I write simply to express my deepest sorrow at the sad news. He was my dear friend. We co-shared Coombs for over twenty years. He was our senior Pacific scholar (in Linguistics), our main link to the Franco-phone world of Pacific scholarship, and a leading scholar of Vanuatu languages and cultures. France conferred upon him its highest civilian award, Legion d’Honour. He walked tall, literally and metaphorically, but his feet were always firmly planted on the ground. He liked the good things of life, but his heart lay in the islands. He was their steadfast friend.

For many years under Jim Fox, Darrell served as the Deputy Director of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. We served on many committees together. He was a founding member of the Pandanus Editorial Board and the School’s representative on the Management Committee of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau. He was always fair minded but also fierce in the defense of  the School’s interests. Those across the table from him feared his wagging finger. Darrell was a serious scholar but not a solemn one, to use one of Oskar Spate’s favourite expressions. We ‘wasted’ countless summer hours in the Coombs Tea Room dissecting the previous day’s game of cricket. Who could not love a man like that?

It was Hank Nelson last year and Darrell now. We are beginning to witness the passing of the pioneering generation of ANU’s Pacific scholars. What a great bunch of men and women they were. They produced enduring scholarship and built up the university’s reputation as the world leader in the field. We who succeeded them stood on their shoulders. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Shukriya,  Darrell, Moce Mada.

[Read other tributes to The Late Professor Darrell Tryon from Professor Malcolm Ross (Pacific Linguistics, ANU) and the Vanuatu High Commission in Canberra.]

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