Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Vale Edric Chaffer

Edrich Chaffer

The Society is saddened to learn of the death on 6 September 2021 of Mr Edric Chaffer, a former President of the Society. He was 88 years old.

Edric Keith Chaffer was one of the longest-serving stalwarts of the Society, dedicating much of his life to its well-being. Joining as a student in 1954, he later served on Council for many years and was Honorary Secretary from 1970–1971 and President in 1975. He was a member of the Council that steered the Society through some of its most turbulent times, including the forced vacation of Science House and Science Centre, and the relocation of its library. His enduring interests were history, science, geology and engineering.

In 1949, while still at school, he attended a lecture on geology given by the Society and that stimulated his life-long interest in the subject. As a result, he was able to persuade his school, Knox Grammar, to allow him to study geology as a sole independent student for the Leaving Certificate as the subject was not offered at that school. He was rewarded with Honours in the subject in 1950. His extensive rock collection still exists.

When he became President of the Society in 1975 he was obliged to nominate his discipline – he chose geology over his profession, tanning. He worked in his father’s tanning business in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore by day and studied geology by night at Sydney Technical College, where he later lectured on the subject. However, his Presidential Address to the Society was entitled ‘Leather: why is it so?’. He stated that the most important lesson to be learned from life was how to think.

His generosity to the Society was boundless, exemplified by his donation of the refurbished boardroom armchairs and table to the Society, facilitated through his family-owned and operated tannery. He was often present in the Society’s rooms helping in whatever way he could.

In June this year he took part in the ‘Presidents’ Reflections’ interviews prepared for the Society’s NEXUS Exhibition at the State Library of NSW. He commented at that time that he had always been very fond of the Society because of its multi-disciplinarity. In 1976 he was awarded the Royal Society of New South Wales Medal for services to science and the Society. He was extremely proud of this award, which was mentioned at his funeral held on 20 September 2021.

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