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Max Modra (1929–2012)

by [unknown]

When Max was born, his father was 52 years old, the next youngest brother was eight and the oldest 19 so he was truly the baby of the family! Two years prior to Max’s birth, his parents and seven siblings had left Gawler in South Australia to establish a farm in far north-western Victoria, west of Mildura. This was sandy desert area, and although conditions were spartan Max described his childhood and family home with fondness: There was no electricity, no telephone, no hot or cold water, no fridge and no microwave: it was otherwise quite comfortable!

Despite poor farming seasons, everyone including his older brothers pitched in to send Max to Concordia College in Adelaide for his secondary schooling. However, during World War II four of his brothers were called up to service and, when Max was 15, his father died so the family abandoned their farm and moved to Nunawading.

Max then attended Melbourne Tech (now RMIT) and became a radio technician. He worked for a short time in a factory, but was most settled when he worked for his great friend, Doug Richter. Doug was a builder, and taught Max the trade. His brother Louis joined the team and Max was happy.

Max was heavily involved in “Luther League”, and at a camp in Mount Evelyn he singled out the prettiest, most talented girl, Pam Huf. They were married on 21 October 1961 at Tabor in Western Victoria, and Max joined the Huf clan. The home that Max built was almost complete by the time their oldest son Tim was born, and over the next 12 years Neil, Kaye and Danny were added to the family. Fifty years later, 8 Meringer Court is still the family home.

Sadly, Doug and Lou both died in the early 1970s, and Max then worked on his own. He continued to build homes, then added extensions, and even renovated his extensions. For many, he was the “family builder” and always strove to give people great value. Life was financially a struggle at times, but Max and Pam found the money to send all four children to Luther College. At heart Max was a craftsman who tried hard to run a business. He worked every Saturday, and worried about tax and his lack of building qualifications. Later, he got great pleasure from working on projects with George and Michael Dittrich.

Max was a man of faith, uncomplicated and foundational. He demonstrated this faith through a simple adherence to the Scriptures and through his humility (“who, me?”), generosity and thankfulness. He was dedicated to St Paul’s and was almost a foundational member, present through the period when the church was built.

Max was also a “fixer”, a problem solver with great resourcefulness. Coupled with his craftsmanship and service mentality, he completed projects often way beyond reasonable expectations. One of his final jobs at St Paul’s was the thankless task of making the pigeonholes. Have a look at the Modra pigeonhole for one of Max’s humorous touches.

And he loved to sing, especially bass – the deeper the better. All bass sounds intrigued him. He was a long-term member of St Paul’s choir, and it was one of his highest joys.

Max finally retired at the age of 76, but kept busy, most notably renovating a campervan with son Danny. This became a source of great pride, and gave Pam and Max some great holidays. In the past year, his hips deteriorated which greatly affected his mobility. Despite a successful double hip replacement, Max died peacefully from complications on 7 July 2012. Finally his endless curiosity is satisfied, the fixer is now with the Healer, and the craftsman is with his Creator.