Proctor : April 2018
48 PROCTOR | April 2018 Justin Francis O’Sullivan AM 5 May 1928 – 6 February 2018 Former Queensland Law Society president Justin Francis O’Sullivan, who died at the age of 89, left an extraordinary legacy of service to the law and community. That Justin was well loved and respected was evident from the large attendance by members of his extended family, friends and colleagues, and by the many compliments paid to him, at his funeral at Little Flower Church, Kedron, on 12 February. A founding student of Marist Brothers, Ashgrove, Justin’s first QLS Proctor presidential page in 1994 noted that, from the age of 10, he “knew that more than anything else, he wanted to be a lawyer”. The source of Justin’s inspiration was his father, respected Brisbane Lawyer Francis O’Sullivan, a pioneering defender of the trade unions during the heady 1930s and ’40s. His father’s dedication to the legal profession, his sense of responsibility to the wider community together with a relentless work ethic – which probably contributed to his early death at the age of 52 – greatly influenced him. Justin was admitted as a solicitor in February 1951 after completing his articles at Timbury and Taylor in Roma and then being employed as the managing clerk of the Cairns firm of MacDonnell, Harris & Bell. These firms provided the foundation for his sterling legal career. Health issues then led him to the drier climate of Dalby, where he built a successful practice from scratch and began the pattern of community service which characterised his life. This included taking on the positions of secretary of the Dalby Show Society and a foundation member of the Dalby Apex Club. He served on Dalby Council for a number of years, including as deputy mayor. Justin’s first receptionist was his lifelong soulmate and confidante, his wife Rita, whom he had met in Roma and married before his admission. This partnership continued to flourish to the day Justin died. Between them, they had five girls, two boys, 15 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Justin will also always be remembered for his moustache. Its origin goes back to the advice of the principal of the well-known Brisbane firm, Macrossan, Byrne and Co., who told a youthful-looking Justin that a moustache would give him gravitas and the look of experience. Justin’s firm became O’Sullivan and Edgar in 1969 when his articled clerk, John Edgar, became a partner and then Justin’s son, Frank, joined the partnership in 1985. In 1999, Justin had retired, but then Frank’s ill-health and untimely death at 52, (the same age as his grandfather) was the catalyst for his return to legal practice. In the words of Frank’s son, Aidan: “Supporting family was always a given with Granddad, and this selflessness was unmistakable in a sad time in our lives when Dad got sick. Granddad never faulted, he came out of retirement to look after Dad’s business (Laherty & O’Sullivan in Toowoomba), to support the family and most of all to support Dad. I think about the times that Dad and Granddad got to spend together, and we will be forever grateful for his compassion, concern, support and love.” Justin was a man who always set the bar high. In the words of his son-in-law, Peter Varghese: “People underestimated Justin at their peril. He had the unstated and laconic style of his generation but behind that, he was a man of steely determination. He was also a restless soul who wanted to live a larger life than a provincial solicitor.” To that end, Justin held various positions in the national and international administration of Apex, including being elected as treasurer and member of the International Officers’ Board of the World Council of Young Men’s Service Clubs in his 30s. “I’ve always believed that if you were born with the capacity to do more for the community, then you have a responsibility to do so,” he said. Justin’s involvement with QLS had commenced in 1986 when, as an active member of the Queensland National Party, he was the Attorney-General’s appointee to the QLS Council.