State High Legends

Legends of State High was a vision of 1964 School Captain, Paul Morgan, a well-known Brisbane businessman and past student of the school.

His idea was to highlight the achievements of past students that have gone on to contribute to their state and country through their achievements at the highest levels in public life, business, sporting and community. Paul believed that highlighting the calibre of those who have graduated from the school and who have achieved greatness would be motivational for students who follow in their footsteps in the years to come.

In 2007, State High inducted twenty-one inaugural Legends of State High and a further nine new Legends in 2014.

This year, we proudly welcomed a further nineteen Legends recognised at our annual Foundation Day Ceremony in July 2021, whom will feature on our Legends of State High wall.

Introducing our 2021 Legends of State High


Justice Peter Applegarth AM

Judge and Social Justice Advocate

CLASS OF 1975

Peter Applegarth graduated from the Class of 1975 and went on to study law, gaining first-class honours and a scholarship to study post-graduate law at Oxford. As a Barrister, Peter acted in defence of freedom of speech at the Fitzgerald Inquiry, helping expose police and political corruption. Peter became Senior Counsel in 2001 and in 2008 was appointed to the Supreme Court. Justice Applegarth chairs the Queensland Law Reform Commission and in 2020 became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to law, judiciary and social justice.

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Mr William Bowness AO

Investor/Developer and Philanthropist

CLASS OF 1961

Bill Bowness graduated from the Class of 1961 and is the Chair of Wilbow Group Pty Ltd, which is involved in various investments and developments in Australia and in property development in the United States of America. Bill is actively involved in various cultural, community and philanthropic activities. In 2015, Bill received an Honorary Doctorate of Business from The University of Queensland and in 2017 received the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the visual and performing arts through philanthropic contributions, fundraising and advisory roles..

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Flight Lieutenant Virgil Brennan DCF DFM

Air Force Pilot

CLASS OF 1934

Flight Lieutenant Virgil Brennan graduated from the Class of 1934. As both the subject and co-author of the book Spitfires over Malta, Flight Lieutenant Brennan was an Australian aviator and flying ace of World War II. Flight Lieutenant Brennan was commissioned and awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1942 and a Distinguished Flying Cross was added to his award for gallantry. Flight Lieutenant Brennan was killed in a flying accident in Queensland in 1943.Image source: David Wilson, ‘Brennan, Virgil Paul (1920–1943)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. 

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Mr Brad Cooper

Olympian and Swim Coach

CLASS OF 1972

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Brad Cooper was part of the graduating Class of 1972. An elite swimmer, after leaving Brisbane he trained in Sydney under coach Don Talbot. After winning the 400m freestyle gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics, in 1973 he became Australian Champion in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle and the 100m and 200m backstroke. Brad became a journalist and then swim school proprietor. In 2019, he wrote an acclaimed coming-of-age memoir The Finest Gold, recounting his Olympic success and itinerant childhood.


Mrs Winifred Davson (O’Neill) MBE

Performing Artist and Teacher

CLASS OF 1938

Win graduated in 1938 and had a long career as an accomplished actor, producer, director, playwright, historical author, poet and fine artist, as well as a Speech and Drama teacher. In 1947, she became the first woman in Australia—and among the first few women in the world—to achieve a Fellowship of Trinity College London for Speech and Drama. Win was honoured to receive an MBE in 1972, to be a finalist in Queenslander of the Year in 1987 and to be the face of Telstra’s phonebook cover in 2009.

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Dr Kathleen Dickinson (Griffin) AM

Teacher 

CLASS OF 1936

Kathleen 'Mercy' Dickinson graduated from the Class of 1936. The first blind student to attend Brisbane State High School, the first blind graduate of The University of Queensland and the first blind person to hold a classified position with the Department of Education, Mercy’s work in the blind community was recognised with an AM in 1984. She was made a Doctor by the Queensland University of Technology and received the Blind Citizens Australia David Blyth Award in 1995. Image source: 1937 Annual Magazine, page 2.

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Dr Andrew Elek AM

Economist and Academic 

CLASS OF 1964

Dr Elek arrived in Australia in 1957 as a 10-year-old refugee from Hungary. Seven years later, he graduated from the Class of 1964 and was awarded the Lilley Medal for the top Year 12 student in Queensland. In 1969, he was selected as State High’s first Rhodes Scholar. His career as an economic policy adviser included working for the government of newly independent Papua New Guinea, a Senior Economist with the World Bank and having a central role in the establishment of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation process. Dr Elek was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1991 for service to international relations.

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Ms Jackie French AM

Author and Literacy and Wildlife Advocate

CLASS OF 1970

Jackie French has written over 250 books in many genres, including history, ecology, children’s literature and historical fiction for adults and young people. She has won or been shortlisted for over 150 awards nationally and internationally. She was Senior Australian of the Year 2015, Australian Children’s Laureate 2014–15 and is a patron, ambassador or director of many organisations to promote literacy, wildlife research and the right of every child and adult to access the books they love or need.

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Mr Bo Hanson

Four Time Olympian and Elite Coach

CLASS OF 1990

Bo Hanson graduated from the Class of 1990 and became Australia’s youngest rower to compete at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games at 18 years of age. Following his first Olympic appearance, Bo went on to win medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Utilising his personal experiences from his four Olympic appearances, combined with his training and development qualifications, Bo founded Athlete Assessments in 2007 with a vision to enable athletes, coaches and sports organisations to achieve peak performance.

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Dr Mary Hughes (Armbruster) OAM

Radiologist and Hockey Life Member

CLASS OF 1947

Mary Hughes graduated from the Class of 1947. Instrumental in Brisbane Women’s Hockey, such was her dedication to helping people, Mary would often travel back and forth from the hospital to Downey Park to play or attend meetings, then return to the hospital to assist her patients. In 1998, Dr Mary Hughes was awarded Honorary Life membership of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists in recognition of her outstanding service to people with head and neck cancer and, in particular, for her huge contribution to the education of cancer specialists in training.

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Mr Alasdair Hutton MEP OBE MBE

Member of Parliament, Author, Narrator

CLASS OF 1957

Alasdair Hutton graduated in the Junior Class of 1957 after emigrating to Australia from Scotland in 1954. After jobs as a radio announcer and working in media across Australia and the UK, Alasdair took an interest in politics and became a member of the European Parliament. In 1986, he was awarded an MBE for Military Service having served as a volunteer soldier for 35 years. He serves on several charities—mainly for ex-servicemen and the blind—and is an author of children’s books. Since 1992, he has been the narrator of the Royal Military Tattoo.

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Dr A James P Morton AM

Haematology-Oncology specialist

CLASS OF 1980

Dr Morton graduated in 1980 and is a highly respected specialist in Haematology-Oncology. He is a passionate advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and is the founder and previous Chair of the AEIOU Foundation for children with autism. Dr Morton was a board member at the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland from 2000–2008, where he created and initiated the World’s Greatest Shave campaign, which continues as a successful fundraising initiative. In recognition of his services to both children with autism and in oncology, he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2015 and  named as a Queensland Great in 2020.

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Dr Judith Murray (née Bruun)

Psychologist and Academic 

CLASS OF 1975

Judith graduated as School Captain from the Class of 1975 and is an endorsed counselling psychologist, a registered nurse and a qualified secondary school teacher. In 1995, she completed a PhD in Child Health and Psychology and in 2003 she was the recipient of an Australian Award for University Teaching. Judith has served on a number of national consultations for bereavement, palliative care, postvention and children’s grief and has been very involved in the training of community and frontline workers both in Australia and overseas.

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Ms Katie Page

Businesswoman and Entrepreneur

CLASS OF 1973

Katie Page graduated in 1973 and is the Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Norman and has been instrumental in the continued success of the international home and lifestyle retailer. She serves on countless boards and, in 2005, made history by being appointed to the board of the National Rugby League, as the first woman to become a member of a major sporting board in Australia. Ms Page’s commitment extends beyond NRL to include AFLW, AFL, motor-sport, surfing and Paralympic sport. She is the co-owner of the Magic Millions—the highest grossing yearling sale in the southern hemisphere.

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Ms Lillian Roxon

Journalist and Author

CLASS OF 1948

Lillian Roxon graduated from the Class of 1948 and became an Australian journalist first freelancing in Hollywood before living in New York in the 1960s and ‘70s as the first Australian female overseas correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald. Dubbed ‘the mother of rock’, she wrote the iconic Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopaedia, published in 1969, and became more widely known for her feminist stance. Lillian died at only 41 years after suffering from an asthma attack.

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AM (Retd) Geoffrey Shepherd AO

Chief of Air Force

CLASS OF 1969

Air Marshal Shepherd graduated from the Class of 1969 and joined the RAAF Academy in 1971. He graduated from the Academy with a Science degree and gained his RAAF pilot’s wings in 1976. He held a number of command posts including a diplomatic post as an Assistant Defence Attache, eventually being appointed Chief of Air Force and promoted to Air Marshal in 2005. Air Marshal Shepherd retired from the RAAF in 2008 after 37 years of service and maintains his interest in aerospace through his Chairmanship of the biennial Avalon International Airshow and Defence Exposition.

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Mr William ‘Bill’ Stoddart

Businessman and Manufacturer

CLASS OF 1960

Bill Stoddart graduated from the Class of 1960 and then laboured at his father’s stainless steel manufacturing company while working towards his metallurgist qualification. Bill went on to take over his father’s company and in 1992 the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association (ASSDA) was formed with Bill as the founding President. Having worked within the structure of the Stoddart company for over 50 years, today, with the next generation of Stoddarts, the company employs over 520 staff nationwide.

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Major General Douglas Vincent CB AM OBE

Senior Officer in the Australian Army

CLASS OF 1934

Douglas ‘Tim’ Vincent graduated from the Class of 1934 and entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1935. With a career spanning 38 years in the Australian Army, Major General Vincent served actively in World War II and as Commander in the Vietnam War. After a number of senior staff positions he retired in 1973 before serving as military adviser to the Returned and Services League of Australia for nearly 20 years prior to his death in 1995.
Image source: Virtual War Memorial Australia, https://vwma.org.au/explore/people/768428, accessed online 2 July 2021



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Dr Graeme Wood AM

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist 

CLASS OF 1964

Graeme Wood graduated from the Class of 1964 and is one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs. He is a nationally leading philanthropist for education, environment, youth and Indigenous communities. Dr Wood revolutionised the travel industry with the creation of Wotif.com and has also contributed significant funding to investments in media, including backing The Guardian and founding The Global Mail. In 2012, Dr Wood was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours.

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Legends of State High


Mr Paul Morgan

Businessman and stockbroker 

CLASS OF 1964

Paul graduated in 1964 as School Captain. 'Porky', as his friends fondly called him, represented Queensland in rugby league during his first year out of school. A stockbroker by trade, he was credited for bringing the stock market to 'mum and dad investors' and co-founding the Brisbane Broncos.

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Ms Hayley Lewis OAM

Olympic silver medallist – swimming

CLASS OF 1991

During her final year, Hayley captained the Girls' Swimming Team. In 1990, at only 15, Hayley became a household name winning 5 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. She went on to win 2 medals in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics—silver in the 800m freestyle & bronze in the 400m freestyle.

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Mr Duncan Armstrong OAM

Olympic gold medallist – swimming

CLASS OF 1985

Duncan held the title of Swimming Captain at State High. At 20, he became an Australian icon bringing home a gold and a silver medal from the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He has won a number of prestigious awards including Young Australian of the Year, a Centenary Medal and a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

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Mr David Wilson

Australian & Queensland rugby union captain

CLASS OF 1984

David is a former Australian rugby player who played 79 Tests over nine years and captained the Wallabies 9 times throughout his Rugby Union career. David won every international trophy available to an Australian Test player, which included Bledisloe Cup series wins in 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2000, a World Cup in 1999 and a Tri Nations series win in 2000.   


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Mr Jon Sieben OAM

Olympic gold medallist – swimming

CLASS OF 1983

Jon became a national name in his infamous 200m butterfly swim at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Beating all odds, he took out the gold medal beating the race favourite. He was the Australian 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly champion and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to swimming.

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Mr Ian Healy AO

Australian cricket vice-captain & wicket keeper

CLASS OF 1981

Ian is perhaps the most successful wicket keeper of all time, Ian played for Australia for more than 10 years. Missing just one Test over his career, he collected 5 world records along the way. Ian holds the record for the most dismissals by a keeper in Test history with his final tally of 395 made up of 366 catches and 29 stumpings.

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Mr Wally Lewis AM

Australian & Queensland rugby league captain

CLASS OF 1977

Wally, also known as 'The King', is an inspirational former rugby league player whose feats on the football field have gone down in history. Wally‘s countless career highlights include captaining Australia 23 times, leading the Kangaroos on an undefeated Ashes tour, 31 State of Origin games and 33 Tests for Australia. In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Queensland Great Award. 

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Dr Andrew Liveris AO

World CEO, Dow Chemicals

CLASS OF 1971

Dr Liveris is a recognised global business leader, transforming Dow Chemicals from a cyclical chemicals manufacturing company into a novel enterprise. His achievements span across prestigious committees, including the Board of Directors for IBM and the Special Olympics, a member of the US President's Export Council, and the United States Council for International Business.

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Professor Gary Roubin MD, FACC

Internationally recognised cardiologist and developer of the heart stent | CLASS OF 1965

Professor Roubin is internationally recognised for pioneering the development of stents for blocked arteries, and developing the techniques of carotid stenting and embolic protection devices. His ground-breaking research helps millions of people around the world. Professor Roubin is currently the Director and Physician in Chief of the Cardiovascular Service Line, Continuum Cardiovascular Centers of New York.

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Dr Alan Laws

Internationally recognised doctor

of anaesthesiology | CLASS OF 1953

Dr Laws graduated as Dux of the School. As a clinician-scientist, Dr Laws studied the effects of anaesthesia on breathing mechanics. He was heavily involved with the examination process and in 1977, was elected Chair of the Royal College Witten Test Committee. He was later appointed Chief Examiner in Anaesthesia in 1980. Under his influence, examinations became more clinically orientated—a process which continues to this day.

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Ms Norma Croker Fleming

Olympic gold medallist – athletics

CLASS OF 1952

Norma Croker graduated in the class of 1952. 
Norma was the first Queensland woman to win an Olympic gold medal. In the months leading up to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, she had a triumphant win against the world record holder for 110 yards. Following this, and with little formal training, her team won the 4x100m Olympic relay. Norma passed away in August 2019, aged 84.


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Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC

Chief of Air Staff Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 

CLASS OF 1952

The year after graduating, Ray began his career with the RAAF as an Officer Cadet. He had many different roles within the RAAF, such as being an Operational Pilot and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force. His career highlight came in 1987 when he was appointed Chief of Air Staff. Retiring from the RAAF in 1992, Ray was the manager of the project that established the Australian Defence Force's first strategic level college. He was the Principal from 1994 until 1999.

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Professor Lawrie Powell AC

Internationally recognised researcher in liver diseases, and Director of QIMR | CLASS OF 1952 

Professor Powell is globally recognised for his contributions to liver research. He has won a gold medal from the Canadian Liver Foundation and in 1990, the Companion of the Order of Australia medal. Professor Powell also influenced the successful development & planning of a new Comprehensive Cancer Research Centre at Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). The Centre officially opened in September 2001, and at capacity can house almost 1,000 scientists and support staff. 


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Sir Sydney Sunderland

Medical researcher, university academic and  

government consultant | CLASS OF 1929

Sir Sydney graduated in 1929. He was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Melbourne University for many years whilst actively researching in the field of nerves and nerve injuries. Widely published, an international medical society was named in his honour. Serving on many government health, university and military committees, he played a key role in the establishment of the Australian Academy of Science where he was one of 23 Foundation Fellows.  Sir Sydney passed away in 1993, aged 83.

Mr Patrick Thomas AM MBE

Conductor and musician

CLASS OF 1949

Recognised with awards such as the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Patrick's association with ABC Orchestras, and guest conductor of many famous orchestras overseas, were a major part of his distinguished career. He was the only Queenslander to hold the post as Chief Conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Patrick remained active as an author, poet, broadcast presenter, and was a Patron of the Music Teachers' Association of NSW.


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Hon. William Hayden AC

Govenor-General of Australia

CLASS OF 1949

William graduated in 1949. 
He had a successful career in parliament from 1961 to 1988, the peak of which was in 1989 when he took up the role of Governor General of Australia. During his time in parliament, he successfully introduced Medibank—Australia's first universal health insurance system—and the single mother's pension. The Honourable William Hayden retired in 1996 and now runs a cattle farm.

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Mr Robin Gibson

Architect

CLASS OF 1947

Robin was known as the man who helped transform Brisbane, turning our eyes to the river and creating the bustling cultural hub. His building designs include the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Museum and State Library, the Queensland Performing Arts Complex (QPAC) and Brisbane's Queen Street Mall. Robin's work has been honoured on 27 occasions for meritorious architecture by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. 


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General Eva Burrows AC 

World leader of the Salvation Army for two terms 

CLASS OF 1946

In 1986, Eva was elected as General of The Salvation Army. Not only was she the youngest person ever elected, but was also the second woman to ever serve in this role.
General Burrows' policy accomplishments included the return of The Salvation Army to communist countries (which had previously banned its ministry), and the restructuring and separation of the International Headquarters and United Kingdom territories.

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Sir Leo Hielscher AC

Pre-eminent public servant, past Head of Queensland Treasury, Head of Queensland Treasury Corporation, and Queensland Industry Development Corporation (Australia)

CLASS OF 1941

Sir Leo had a long and successful career in the public sector. Primarily working in finance, he was responsible for the development and funding of the state's renowned employees superannuation scheme. He has been acclaimed as one of the key figures responsible for transforming Queensland's economy over the past 40 years. In 2007, Sir Leo was presented with the Queensland Great Award, and in 2010, was recognised for his achievements when the Gateway Bridge was renamed in his honour.

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Professor Martin Green AM

Scientist 

CLASS OF 1965

Professor Green has had a successful career working on the development of silicon solar cells. In the mid-1980s,
the Solar Photovoltaics Group, a group he established, succeeded in producing a 20% efficient silicon cell. Under his guidance, the group improved the performance of silicon solar cells by more than 50% from what had previously been considered a mature technology. His group holds a number of world records for solar cell performance. In 2010, Professor Green was awarded the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

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Mr Denis Donnelly OAM

State High teacher and sporting contributor

CLASS OF 1953

After graduating from the Teachers' Training College in 1954 and completing compulsory National Service, Denis returned to State High as a Physical Education teacher in 1961. By the late 1970s, he was teaching French, Senior English, Junior Science and Mathematics, while still being heavily involved in our sports programs—including rowing, rugby, athletics and cross country. Denis has been awarded life memberships of the Commercial Rowing Club and the Queensland Secondary Schools Athletics Association. In recognition of his contributions to the school, we named the annual 1,500m run The Donnelly Dash in his honour.

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Mr William Robinson AO

Artist

CLASS OF 1951

William graduated in 1951. 

Winning 2 Archibald Prizes—in 1987 and 1995—William is a prominent painter in the art world. His national fame grew in 1983 when several of his works featured in Sydney’s Australian Perspecta exhibition. In 2004, William received the Queensland Great Award.According to William, ‘An artist does not retire’ and he continues to paint today.

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Mr Brett Dean

Composer, violist and conductor

CLASS OF 1978

Based in Melbourne and Berlin,  Brett is one of the most internationally performed composers of his generation. With over 56 compositions, he won the Grawemeyer Award for music composition in 2009 for his violin concerto 'The Lost Art of Letter Writing', and received the Elise L. Stoeger Prize in 2011 from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York. More recently, he was the Composer in Residence at the 2013/14 Grafenegg Festival


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Mr William McLean

Australian and Queensland rugby union captain

CLASS OF 1933

William graduated in 1933. He served 6 years with the Australian Imperial Force. Once home, he moved on to captain Australia and Queensland in rugby union. He captained five Tests for the Wallabies, and led the side to tour the United Kingdom in 1947–1948. The McLean family has played 77 rugby Tests between them. William passed away in 1996.

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Mr Sterge Karas AO OAM

Refugee, Greek Ambassador, Consul

CLASS OF 1961

Sterge graduated in 1961. Throughout his career, he has been heavily involved in, and is an advocate for, immigration law, current affairs and international relations. He is a committed Greek community ambassador. Sterge became somewhat of a voice for asylum seekers, working as an independent merits reviewer for the Refugee Status Authority. Sterge retired in 2012.

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Mr Bill Sole OAM

Teacher and sporting contributor

CLASS OF 1958

Bill graduated in 1958. After graduating with a B.Sc. Certificate of Teaching from The University of Queensland, he returned to State High to teach Mathematics, Science and Senior Physics. He was also heavily involved with our school's extra-curricular sports and is a life member of Queensland State School Swimming Association (QSSSA), with his Presidency spanning to several QSSSA committees.

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Hon Michael Bryce AM AE KStJ

Architect and designer

CLASS OF 1955

By 27, his drawings had made it to the Royal Academy of Arts (UK). After a stint in London, Michael returned to Australia and started his own architectural practice. His most famous logo creation was the 2000 Sydney Olympic squiggle of the Opera House. Other logos Michael worked on include redesigning the Wallabies Rugby Union team logo, and logos for the Queensland Government, Harrods London, Fendi and Valentino.


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Ms Barbara Patterson Blackman

Patron, philanthropist and writer

 CLASS OF 1945

Barbara graduated in 1945She developed a passion for contemporary music and writing during her high school years. As a teenager, she was the youngest member of Barjai, an avant-garde writers' group in Brisbane. During the early 1950s, Barbara was diagnosed with optic atrophy, which caused her to rapidly lose her eyesight. In her later years she was a campaigner for talking books and libraries for the blind, a producer for the Radio for the Print Handicapped, and was involved in the National Federation of Blind Citizens.

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Dr Nicholas S Girdis CBE

Property developer and investor

CLASS OF 1943

Dr Girdis helped to reshape and preserve Brisbane's waterfront in the 1990s by turning a run-down ship-building area into the Dockside Precinct, Kangaroo Point. He was also involved in the development of Fisherman's Wharf at Main Beach. He led the campaign to raise $5 million for the restoration of the historic Customs House for He led the campaign to raise $5 million for the restoration of the historic Customs House for The University of Queensland, and developed a 480 berth marina for the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

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Sir Douglas Wadley

Solicitor and company director 

CLASS OF 1920

Sir Douglas was an all-rounder, a law firm partner, a volunteer of the Defence Corps and a board member, chairman and director of countless companies. He was also heavily involved in the Catholic Church as a member of the Business Advisory Board of the Catholic Leader.
Sir Douglas passed away in 1984. Following his passing, the canine pavilion at the Brisbane showgrounds was named in his honour and the Sir Douglas Wadley Handicap is a major event in the Queensland horse racing calendar.

Happy 100th Anniversary Brisbane State High School