Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Boreham and Son

In his auto-biography, F W Boreham quotes Mark Twain when saying, that people should be careful in the choice of their parents! With this in mind I write a commendation of Frank Boreham junior, in the choice of his parents, F W and Stella Boreham.

The following is the eulogy that I gave at the funeral of Frank Boreham junior in 2001.

I wonder what things surface in your mind as you ponder today, the life of Frank Boreham? Hasn’t it warmed our hearts to recall the pleasure Frank gained through sport, film and collecting, his record in commerce, his contribution to business, his faithful commitment to the church and his devotion to his family?

I find it hard to think of Frank without thinking of Betty [his wife], because didn’t they do so much together? They enjoyed their own space and they cultivated their own interests but they extended hospitality together, they initiated social gatherings together, they coordinated holidays with friends together, they traveled with this wide eyed interest in the world together and they delighted in telling their stories together on their return.

They often invited me to their home at the Templestowe Orchards and over these times I came to know Frank as a fascinating storyteller, a person with a keen wit and a thoughtful friend.

Frank and Betty inspired me because even in their seventies they were galavanting around the world and they had this unquenchable thirst to drink in beauty, to appreciate wonder and to keep on being people who were forever learning and always growing. I found this most impressive!

For Frank and Betty their friendship with God was something that flowed naturally out of who they were. I loved the way that at lunch Frank would invariably give the same grace. A prayer that his father had often always prayed. I wonder if you know it?

Back of the loaf is the snowy flour,
And back of the flour is the mill,
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,
And the sun, and the Father’s will.
For mill and flour,
And sun and shower,
We give You thanks, O Lord. Amen.

This personal faith that Frank and Betty possessed was fleshed out in so many ways, not the least in their gift of time and friendship and resources. They demonstrated a breadth of concern. They gave generously to Whitley, the Baptist College, the Australian Baptist Missionary Society and other groups that trained people for Christian ministry in this land and overseas.

Having the Boreham name was to Frank a privilege and a responsibility although it wasn’t until later in life that he came to realize how famous his father had become through authoring more than 50 books, writing weekly editorials for the Otago Daily Times, the Hobart Mercury and The Melbourne Age for more than 50 years and as a much loved pastor and international speaker.

Because his father had this insatiable itch to write, there’s a lot that we know about Frank’s childhood. In fact on the day of his birth F W Boreham started a journal for young Frank that he kept going for his son for 16 years!

On the first day he tells with a great flourish of Frank’s birth in Hobart. Later he writes about the name they gave him. After several months he writes about changing his name to Francis Randolph after FW’s close friend in Christchurch.

There’s the record of holidays in the Dandenongs and playing cricket in Munro Street, Armadale, outside the family home.

While generally reserved about inserting personal and family details in his books there are several instances when Dr Boreham breaks his own rules and writes about looking up at the sky with Frank to view the shape and movement of the clouds.

On another occasion he writes about being with his young son sitting out under the inky sky and watching the stars with wonder. What a great friendship they enjoyed.

In Dr Boreham’s journal that records the last and difficult decade of his life, amid the entries that report the visit to the Boreham home of such famous people as Rita Snowden, Leslie Weatherhead and Billy Graham there are so many notes that read:

“Frank and Betty visited” or “Frank drove me to the doctor” or “Frank helped me with my tax return” and “Frank and Betty had us around for a meal” or “Frank came to get the possum out of our roof!” This last episode goes on for several weeks!

There are so many glimpses of Frank’s practical and unstinting devotion to his frail parents, a commitment that we’ve seen mirrored in Frank’s decision to take Betty to a warmer climate [Cairns, Queensland] to enjoy a better quality of life.

Earlier this morning we laid Frank to rest in the Boroondara soil and we have no need to fear. Many times, I have walked through that cemetery with Frank in search of the family grave and very calmly Frank would point to his own plot and he had a quiet peace about the inevitable. Frank Boreham was not afraid to die!

In fact he often expressed with amusement that in the 1950’s after his sister was buried there his parents would regularly take a picnic and enjoy it in the cemetery! Picnicking in the cemetery! It may sound rather macabre but the people who know that death is not a dead end can even turn a cemetery into a place of celebration!

There are very few people who have a newspaper editorial written about their birth and still fewer whose advent is written up in a book.

Listen to F W Boreham as in his autobiography he sets the scene:

“We had to wait nearly twenty years for a boy. I myself had long abandoned all thought of such a possibility; my wife, on the contrary, never for a moment wavered in her confidence that he would arrive in due course. All through the years she was constantly telling me of the things she would do ‘when our boy comes.’ He arrived just before the outbreak of war in 1914.”
F W Boreham, My Pilgrimage, p191.

Sense the exuberance with which Frank’s father records the actual event:
It’s a boy!’ The thing seemed incredible. Nobody knew what to make of it. We had
spent nearly twenty years on the cultivation of a choice little garden of girls.
But a boy! Who could have dreamed of such an astounding and sensational

I was away at a committee meeting when this bolt fell from the blue. The
doctor’s car gave me the first hint of the excitement awaiting me. A feminine
form was waiting at the gate.

It’s a boy!’ she exclaimed, in breathless amazement.

It’s a boy!’ I was informed by a second emissary when half way up the path.
And, at the top of the steps, stood the nurse in consultation with the doctor,
who was just taking his departure.

It’s a boy!’ they exclaimed simultaneously, on catching sight of me. It is
with unusual confidence, therefore, that I approach my first theme in this new
The Fiery Crags, p1.

Friends, if we can understand this earthly father’s longing for a son and if we can appreciate the sheer exuberance that was there at his birth then is it not too hard to believe the Bible when it speaks of heaven as a home and these words of Jesus?

“In my Father’s house are many rooms…And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

The longing, the expectation and the love that welcomed Frank Boreham into the world is wonderful but it’s a pale shadow of the longing, the expectation and the sheer delight that has welcomed him at his death.

This is the good news that we celebrate for Frank today. This is the Gospel truth for all who believe—Heaven awaits us! There’s a right royal welcome prepared for us! Thanks be to God!

Geoff Pound

Image: Three generations. F W Boreham with son, Frank and his son Howard (outside FW's home in Kew, Melbourne).