Swans fan and De La Salle legend ‘Br Stan’ dies at 91

The community at De La Salle College, Cronulla, was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Br Stanislaus Carmody at the age of 91. Better known as Br Stan, the former college principal enjoyed a fine reputation as an educator, a sportsman and a religious leader.

Br Stan touched the lives of many Shire families in his time at Cronulla. Stan (born Gregory Spohn) was one of four sons of Vincent and Elizabeth Carmody. He entered religious life at the age of 13 when he joined the De La Salle Brothers and was appointed to his first teaching post at the recently opened boarding school, De La Salle, Cronulla, in 1940.

He was captain coach of the school rugby league team in that year. Back then, young teachers played alongside the boys. The next year Br Stan was transferred to Melbourne where he rose to become principal of both De La Salle College, Malvern, and St Bede’s College, Mentone. He was also promoted to the position of Auxiliary Provincial and Vocational Director of the De La Salle Order.

Three decades in Victoria turned him into an Aussie Rules fan and to the very last he was a fanatical follower of the Swans. In 1976 Br Stan was transferred back to Cronulla to teach for a year before taking up the reins as principal. He would have nothing of the laissez faire attitudes of the time. He insisted on Gospel values, high academic standards and good  manners. His determination paid immediate dividends with one of his students topping the State in the HSC with a perfect score!

Br Stan was famous for his advice to students not to “ pair off” but rather to have a broad group of friends at a young age. Most notable was his advice to student Andrew (‘ET’) Ettingshausen. He called Andrew up to advise him not to become too involved with his girlfriend and at the same time told him he shouldn’t expect to make a living out of football. ET’s  daughters, also De La Salle students, still had a laugh about that with Br Stan. Their mum Monique was the girlfriend and Andrew’s career is still going strong. Br Stan was a builder, ensuring the school got a library, a hall and a new oval. There wasn’t enough money to grass the oval so Br Stanasked every student to bring armfuls of grass runners from home
and the job was done.

Br Stan retired from teaching in 1986 after 10 years at Cronulla. He remained living in the Brothers’ house on the site and was a well known figure around the college and Cronulla’s beaches. He would run from the college to Boat Harbour most days until he was into his 80s. Then he started early morning swims at the rockpool, followed by a coffee.

Br Stan was a keen supporter of the college league team since his days as captain coach. Last year the boys organised a surprise for him. They invited ET back to school to appoint him team patron and presented him with a patron’s tracksuit. Last year he was easily recognisable wearing a combination of the tracksuit and Swans hat and scarf around the college.

Br Stan’s passing is part of the end of an era in Catholic education. Very few schools now have any nuns or brothers on campus let alone as principals. Stan dedicated his life to education and student welfare in a way that modern teachers with family and other commitments are unable to match, no matter how dedicated they are. This generational change is best illustrated in one of Br Stan’s anecdotes.

When a bureaucrat from the school inspectorate grilled Stan about what philosophy of education he subscribed to, he replied: “The one that gets the kids to heaven!” When the inspector looked puzzled Br Stan explained that he wanted to make his students into good people, and everything else followed from that. Br Stan’s funeral was held at the Church of St Aloysius Gonzaga, Cronulla, on February 11, with Mons William Mullins was chief celebrant.

Mark Vincent, a student at De La Salle, brought the congregation to tears with a moving communion reflection rendition of You Raise Me Up. In the eulogy, Br Quentin O’Halloran FSC spoke of Stan’s lifetime of dedication to his teaching and religious vocation, his devotion to the Virgin Mary and his love of sport.

He also spoke fondly of Stan’s time as a cadet officer in Melbourne, when he commanded the most smartly turned out and best drilled corps on the parade ground, and quoted extensively from Stan’s memoir where he described the strength of God’s call to his vocation.

Br Stan was buried at the Brothers’ cemetery at Oakhill. *Byron Hurst is a longtime friend and long-term teacher at De La Salle College, Cronulla, where Br Stan gave him his start as a teacher.