- 77 years old
- Date of birth: Oct 28, 1937
- Date of passing: Nov 30, 2014
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Roger Bolton, 77, born on October 28, 1937 and passed away on November 30, 2014.
By clicking on the Tabs above you can:
Read and add Tributes and Memories under the Stories tab
Look and listen to Roger's Desert Island Discs under the His Life tab
See a few photos of Roger and St. Mary's his church under the Gallery Tab
On December 18th, we held a memorial service for Roger at which Michael and John Bolton read the following:
Words of Tribute and Remembrance
In 1949 two boys from Perth, Australia with lively minds, a sense of mischief, and some small change earned doing odd-jobs decide to expand their experiment. Yes, their explosive works pretty well when you hit it with a hammer or strap it to a gate and slam hard but what could happen if they make a bigger packet of potassium chlorate and sulphur, set it on the steel tram line on Angove Street, and wait for 16 tons of commuter tram to drive right over it? How loud will that be?
Well, three things happened next and in the following order:
1) The boys run down a side alley to escape the tram conductor who swears a blast like that belongs to professional-grade mining explosives,
2) The experimenters gain a very clear understanding that the explosive is in fact pressure-sensitive, and
3) Roger Bolton and his lifelong friend Ron Bowyer begin their careers as chemists, general co-conspirators, and perhaps ironically, University Safety Officers.
Within nine years there would be no more trams in Perth. Draw your own conclusions.
When Dad told me this story several years ago, I could still hear his satisfaction in some simple chemistry done well and the insight that came in scaling up the experiment: more pressure, bigger bang. The spark of curiosity in him that day was still evident sixty years later, in fact it lasted a lifetime.
Dad was a very, very, good chemist and as a result Chemistry was good to Dad. It offered him a world of intellectual adventure, introduced him to the wife he loved for more than 50 years, allowed him to travel widely, and brought him friends and former students across six continents--some of whom are here today and many more of whom are with us in spirit.
Being brought up by two PhD chemists made our household out of the ordinary in ways we didn’t realize until much later. For example, sat at the kitchen table eating tea Mum might ask Dad the standard question of any household, “What did you do at work today?” In response, Dad would turn over a used envelope and then draw out a set of chemical compounds and equations. To which Mum would then respond in kind using that same secret, shared language. Back and forth it would go and even when we had no idea what it meant, we knew it was something special, something worth talking about and exploring. Years later when Alexandra was at Cambridge, her supervisor told the class that if they really wanted to understand reaction mechanisms there was only one book to bother with, and then she held up one of Dad’s titles. As kids, we had no idea his work was that well regarded or that it had a larger place beyond the kitchen table.
Like Geoff, the big-brother he was so proud of and who was so fond of him, Roger was also blessed with a broad set of talents. He was a fantastic classical pianist who stopped short of making that a career only because he didn’t enjoy playing for large audiences. Those who did hear him play recognized their good fortune.
Dad also spoke and read German fluently, had an impressive knowledge of opera, was an expert puzzler, and loved nothing more than quietly finding the right moment to drop a clever quip into the conversation--sometimes all the more entertaining for its surprising spiciness.
Dad’s humor was gentle and often self-deprecating. When nine or so, I was watching a cartoon with Dad in the room but reading something and seemingly completely uninterested in the drama on screen. The main character was being bullied or threatened in some way and decided to call upon a higher power, warning the bully that if he wasn’t left alone he'd call his father in the classic "My Dad's bigger than your Dad" way. Roger, who was never a physically imposing figure, said quietly, and without looking up, “I don't think that’s going to work for you John."
What Dad may have lacked in athleticism he more than made up for intellectually. Dad had high academic standards that helped his children, his students, and those naïve volunteers who asked to undergo his practice interviews—a tough ordeal that Roger’s God daughter Louise said made you feel simultaneously humbled and thoroughly believed in.
Beyond all this, Roger left his children and grandchildren a rich legacy:
- We have tasted the greatest scrambled eggs known to man,
- We know that Moses is in error when he supposes his toeses are roses, and
- At least one of us has those unruly but so expressive eyebrows (thanks Dad)
In later years while illness restricted his movement Roger found other ways to broaden his horizons. Most strikingly, Dad made a point to try and overcome his natural shyness and express as openly as he could his pride in and love and respect for friends and family. While always there, this was never easy for him, mainly because it took him a long time to accept how much he meant to the rest of us and therefore how much his opinion mattered. He was very well loved and cared for, particularly by Anne, and also by his wide circle of friends and family and his parish community.
Dad was very appreciative of the great comfort that his friendship with Adrian and being part of the St. Mary’s community brought and he was invigorated by the chance to further explore scripture and his faith, asking still more of the complex questions of life.
Each of us are different people to the different people we know. And so, we can’t do justice to all that Roger was in his 77 years. While each of us knew him from our own perspective there in our common view was kindness, intelligence, loyalty, faithfulness, honesty, and that sharp sense of humor. Above all though, there was always that spark of curiosity and wonder. It was there in 1949 within a boy just starting to come into his own and it could not be extinguished by the shadow of illness.
Thank you again for coming today. When you remember Roger Bolton we hope you will always remember that spark with the greatest of affection.
"Thanks Michael for doing such a grand job of putting this tribute together. Anne and the whole family have been much in our thoughts these last few weeks. Roger will be greatly missed. R.I.P."
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