A tribute to...

David Diss

Published: 28/6/2023

A Tribute to David Diss

11 October, 1930 - 26 May 2023

Throughout his life Dave was an idealistic activist, strong family man, Speakers' Corner Orator, press letter writer, broadcaster, autobiographical author and visual artist all aimed, in one way or another, at the creation of a better world.   

In so doing he was not afraid to confront authority, with others, in a good cause when needed.   

Born in London's East End (Barking) he was radicalized by his experiences of worker oppression, firstly in England, and then later in Australia. He experienced the Great Depression of the 1930s as he grew up in Sussex England.   

Wanting a new adventure - and disillusioned by an unfair employment dismissal and the wider British class system - he emigrated with his family in the 1970s as a 'Ten Pound Pom'.   

Here in Adelaide, together with his adored wife Pauline, and their beloved children - Simon, Melanie and Tim - they remained a tightly knit family.  

Dave worked in that time for Chryslers, the PMG, and finally Telecom.   

His interest in street corner oratory began in his youth in England when he used to attend a Speakers' Corner at London's Tower Hill during his lunch break.   

Here in Adelaide he was one of many local orators who spoke at Adelaide's later Speakers' Corner over several decades.   

That revived speaking began in 1986 at the old Speakers' Corner, now known as the 'Speakers' Ring', in Adelaide's Botanic Park before it moved on to various other venues - especially folk festivals - right up to the present day. 

He was a quiet, reflective orator preferring this to the much more demonstrative histrionics practiced by other speakers.   

Up until his death Dave was a valued participant in the casual group discussion of the topical issues of the day which occurs every Thursday lunch time in the Aces Bar and Bistro in the Adelaide Central market.   

He also broadcasted a couple of programmes for Radio Adelaide 101.5 fm.   Art and writing were passions of Dave's over a very long period of time. He was a fine visual artist, and a prolific writer of press letters for local and overseas papers.   

Pride of place in his visual art collection is a life class painting of his he did at Worthing Art School in the mid 1960s - and several landscape paintings - all of which were on display at his wake held recently.   

Later in his life he wrote and published a three volume autobiography describing his life experiences both as a youngster in England, and then here in Adelaide.   

These volumes cover his childhood in England during World War 11 when he was a displaced child sent away from his home to avoid Nazi bombing, his years of service in the British navy during the Cold War in the 1950s, and his life in Australia when he migrated here with his family.   

He was strongly active at the grass roots level in the labour movement here in Adelaide over a long period of time. As part of this he was, for a time, mentored by the late Philosopher and activist Professor Brian Medlin in his artistic and protest activities.   

Dave maintained his quest for a better world to the end of his life. His causes were many and varied. He opposed Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, Apartheid in South Africa, and the sacking of Whitlam in 1975 for example. 

In all of this he managed to get some of the way forward in learning to communicate in French.   

Au revoir Dave.  

Yours was, to quote another friend of ours, 'a life well lived indeed'. The world is a better place for you having been here.      

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