Home Eulogy - Peter Thiel Eulogy - Celia Thiel (nee Hanckel) Memories Poems

Memories of Mum and Dad 

(written and read by Amos Thiel)

There is a destiny available to each one of us, to shine, to become love, to be the best us we can possibly be.   A person can become a fountain of hope, healing, encouragement, and stability to all those around them.  Our Mother was such a person, and only in the light of recent events, have I come to realize just how many people where inspired and touched by her life, and what a difference she made.  In her there was serenity, a sweet, empathetic social nature, and a deep sincerity.  Some have described her as angelic, and as we look at her ability to touch others, at her supernatural patience, we know that her fountain was fed by one much deeper - one who is the definition of love itself.  In her we see a love not easily provoked, that thinks no evil. She always gave others the benefit of the doubt, was always thinking of another’s good. Mum suffered long, she was kind, she bore all things and believed all things, and there was a very deep humility about her.

We can be inspired too, by my  father’s life, by his long but successful battle against his nerves, to see him unwind and mellow and that quirky and inappropriate sense of humour that was always present, come out to play.  We can be inspired too by the brutal honesty that lead him to step outside the arena of his faith for a while, because he felt his life did not match his profession - something that breathes like a breath of fresh air in a world so full of hypocrisy, facades, and disappointing illusions of love. Among those who knew him best dad was a steady and unbiased voice.  He was never afraid to speak the truth, and would never back down for the sake of saving face or looking good in the opinion of others. This was what made people value his advice so much. For years on church business meetings I used to watch as his name would remain 5, 10 or 15 votes ahead of the rest as a committee was being voted in. He helped, even beyond his ability, even at times when he probably should have taken a break for the sake of his nerves.  In recent times he was known to have said that the only thing that kept him from fully joining with the little church he attended here in Adelaide was because he knew he wouldn’t be able to say no to responsibilities he that he wasn’t able to bear. 

Your perfectionism and your desire to  have things a certain way did drive us crazy, but dad, I love you and I thank you so much for sharing your life and everything you have to offer.  When we understand your language of hard work, support... and hugs, we know truly that here was a heart where love lived. Whether it was a good deal on the first car, financial help in times of need, or sound advice, you where always willing to help.

Of all of Mum and Dad’s children, I feel I owe them the most gratitude.  They stood by me at a difficult time of my life, a time when illness wasted my body and left my mind in a confused haze of forgetfulness and inability to think straight.  As days went by and then dragged into weeks, and weeks became months, and months dragged on into years, Hope became less certain but they where there every step of the way. It was an incredibly hard two years.  I know it took a heavy toll on them, but they where there for me, patiently quietly caring.  They didn’t institutionalize me, and as a result of their devotion, I stand here today.

Of all things that inspire about our parents, none shines so brightly as their dedication and commitment to each other.  They were so different, and there where rocky times along the road that tested that dedication to the limit, but they stood by each other when most would have simply washed their hands and walked away.  Now even in death, they remain together, proving that true love endures all things. 

For us this is a really hard time, but for them this was most likely quite easy.  It is very likely that one day we will have this conversation with them.  “What happened, we seem to have dropped out for a while? Well, there was an accident – a head-on. Really we’re so sorry you had to go through that.”  And then... Forever.

I think that if today just one person can be shaken up and shaken out of their contentedness with living small, and become a fountain of hope and healing, then it will give meaning to loss, and beauty to pain.  Mum and Dad, I love you.  Thank you so much for sharing your life with me, with us, and with the world. 



Memories of our Parents

(as read by Joanna & Ben)

(Ben read)

It has been said that children are a gift given to parents. But looking at the lives of our parents which were snatched from us all too soon we have to conclude that parents are also a gift to children.  Over the years we have had our loved parents with us we have all received something from them.

Whether its some of Mum’s tact, consistency, organisation, tolerance, her endless writing of lists and notes (which some of us used to tease her she needed to write an index for) her love of finding something good quality in a second hand store hunt or her properness which I’m not sure any of us really absorbed, we have all received something.

While mum might have seemed to have many of the softer characteristics, she was by no means lenient in our upbringing. Very early we were given a small sum of pocket money each week which was debited in 20 or 50 cent increments according to our misdeeds causing pain and tears with some of us and “who cares you can take it all” in others after which other discipline methods were employed.  For all of us, at least part our education was completed via home schooling and here some stronger characteristics also came out –if our time for breaks was exceeded the whistle was blown with more than usual energy and we knew we had to rush in and avoid other consequences!  Receiving the “I can’t do” that plea on one occasion, her reaction was “just sit down and say to yourself I can, I will and I must!”. Bringing up four lively and opinionated individuals is not for the faint hearted and our mother did admirably at the task. Often running through our names, Joanna, Rebecca, Benjamin, Amos before arriving at the right individual to intervene in some minor catastrophe in the house. Or Rowanna, Jebecca, Benjamin can you please get me this or that!

Mum’s calm air in the midst of difficulty was always amazing. On one occasion, when Dad was away working in the country, we were late for church and once on the way Mum was driving at a very rapid rate and singing as she often did when Amos aged about 5 at the time asked “mum what’s that smell?” to which she calmly answered “oh it’s the car on fire because we are late!” The next week the car was to be booked in for a service, Mum was there on the phone looking all official with her note pad making the booking and when asked “What sort of car do you have Mrs Thiel? Mum pulled one of her well practiced funny faces, raised one eyebrow and said, “well it’s green and, er, it has four wheels!”

Mum’s musings sometimes landed her in trouble and sometimes she caught herself saying things before realising their possible impact. I remember name of an Islander friend being mentioned in conversation and Mum said in a thoughtful tone, he’s a nice young man rather angelic, like, like a dark angel! Upon realisation of the statement’s import, it was hurriedly but carefully corrected causing great amusement to all present.

Mum spent three years in Papua New Guinea where she as a young person reached to touch the lives of others there. As I have travelled the Pacific Islands over the last 15 years, I have realised that the three years mum spent in PNG affected her life in more ways than I had previously realised. Her straight forwardness unassuming, down to earthiness, her love of the natural, her lack of being rushed on time the way the western world demands it and other things about her general demeanour resonate with the people there. Travelling back there with her in 2009, it was interesting to see how “white grass Mary” as they called her fitted in, understood the people and how quickly the language she hadn’t spoken for forty years came back to her again.

(Joanna Read)

Dad taught us how to work hard, be frugal, make do, not hoard, was brutally honest, had a quirky sometimes inappropriate sense humour which though it sometimes embarrassed us we loved him for just the same, and he was level headed in whatever advice he gave. Though his bad nerves and allergies often made him edgy, he was never condescending but would apologise to us for being a bad Dad which gave us more respect for him than anything else he could have done.

Dad worked hard and fast and taught us from little on to work. We remember the rows of carrots and radishes we helped thin on the farm near Mt Compass. From a child’s perspective they seemed kilometers long. As we got older we shifted to northern NSW, to “Bimbadeen”, a beautiful 13 acre property over-looking the Nimbin valley about 30 km from Lismore, NSW. It was a place where plants grew incredibly well and the weeds grew even better. For us the place was strange and different, there were tropical fruits that we’d never heard of before, strange sounds from night singing cicadas, and the people were different too.  Alternative lifestyle people, otherwise referred to as hippies roamed the hills of nimbin and it took some getting used to the locals. This was to be home for our parents for the next 25 years. After preparing the ground, 200 custard apple trees, 60 mango trees, and numerous other fruit trees such as bananas, papaya and avocados where planted. There was always a huge vegetable garden. Bimbadeen became a hobby farm providing lots of fresh fruit and vegetables for the family and friends, and some income.  All this meant plenty of work for everyone, often we’d all hoe weeds in the orchard before enjoying a trip to the local swimming hole in the creek down the road.

During our school holidays Dad took us Macadamia nut picking. He was unstoppable, even when we had to pick nuts covered with ice in winter he would just rub his hands in the prickly leaves till they were warm and just keep going. We had races who could pick the most nuts in a day and boy was Dad hard to beat! Only twice we would manage to do a proper job of it after keeping quiet as to how many buckets we had picked and powering on as hard as we could.

Dad, worked part of the day delivering mail on a local country postal run. This was Dad’s happiest time of employment.  He loved his run and the casual contact with so many people.  Initially he felt guilty that he enjoyed it so much and that it wasn’t hard work and spoke of having to adjust his thinking to believe that this could actually be called work at all. On coming home from work he often kept up amused with stories of accidently wiping out a letterbox or hair raising adventures on the narrow mountain roads.  During this time we left the nest one by one.  Dad had his postal run, but it was a lonely for mum, so she also took up a postal run for a while, and later delivered meals on wheels, and volunteered in the local SDA second hand shop.   

Dad’s stories were fascinating and he told them with his whole heart and emotion. I remember people nearly in tears as he told the story of “Robust and Tenderheart” two lettuces who lived to make people healthy but never got to fulfil their life’s purpose because they died in the fridge before they were eaten. Or his parable of the wolf who was offered an operation to become a sheep but refused and instead became a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Dad's frugality led him to attempt to persuade us that we did not require a proper saddle for our flighty, poorly trained 3 year old Arab cross, Bubbles. A perfectly good saddle could be made from a Hessian sack, he said. After much careful measuring and stitching, the 'saddle' was attached and as we naturally refused to mount up, Dad did the honours himself. We all watched on in fear and amusement as he trialled this homemade contraption. Just a few steps down the road proved our need for a ‘real’ saddle as Dad nearly came to grief. He quickly found himself on the road with one leg caught up in the reigns high above his head while still being pulled along by a very scared Bubbles. Needless to say a real saddle was quickly forthcoming which provided us with many more successful horse adventures after that!

Through his struggles as a young person Dad sought a steady, consistent, loving relationship to fill a hole in his heart as reflected in the following words of poetry, which he wrote many years ago.

(Ben Read)

The Most Important Thing in Life!


Have you ever stopped and pondered,

Or have you never wondered,

Of which, in life, we need the most.

To some, no doubt it’s fortune, wealth ...

Which they must acquire no matter what the cost.

They even go as far as to sacrifice their health.

Yes health, that is important,  - even vital

But many waste it and do not mind

Until it is too late and fatal.


Sometimes, I wonder is it importance, fame?

I observe the ones who on this mountain climb.

How hard they try to reach their goal!

Little realize how they lose their soul.

They do not shrink from fraud or bad,

Care little whom they hurt, or make sad.

Lord, preserve me from the urge for fame,

For it costs your all and all your time.


Maybe it is to be content,

But let me ask you, friend,

Is it possible to be in such a state of mind,

If you have no resting pole of any kind?

That’s important too, a resting pole,

Someone, somewhere, who can console.


More subjects could well be considered

But my mind for them has withered.

For me the important thing in life

Is, to have a good and loving wife.

How otherwise shall I be content,

Or happily my time can spend?


Through woman, men do stand or fall,

Through them, we are either big or small.

You may admit it or you may forbear,

Your state depends on the one with whom your life you share!                                                                                                                      - Peter Thiel - 

Though they found each other in an unusual way, the 45 years our parents spent together are proof that Dad found what he was looking for in mum and despite their ups and downs, good times and fiery ordeals we know they cared about each other and stuck together. Finally, they were both snatched from us by a fiery ordeal marked by an ugly black full stop in the middle of the Eyre Highway. Taken too soon to our human understanding to grasp and so suddenly but together and in the hope of Jesus soon coming to conquer the enemy called death. We will miss Mum and Dad but value what they have given us and share the hope that one day soon they will be raised up and be in heaven together with us.

For my Dad

I will always be so very grateful for your courage to include me in your life.

In the past five years there was no need to take the time to get to know you, for I have always been a part of you.

My journey through life continues without you once again; yet the gratitude remains.

With our love always, your daughter Esther, son in law Lincoln, and grandchildren Chantal & Adam.

Memories of Peter and Celia 

We had the good fortune of Peter and Celia staying with us for a few days when they came to K.I. It was so lovely to get to know them a bit better. Auntie Celia and I talked plants and I enjoyed her gentle nature. Papa Peter told stories from the past, which we loved to hear. They both came with me on my 'power walk' and nearly left me in the dust! Gulp. 

On later visits Papa Peter always brought a little gift to share. He couldn't resist a bargain and I will never look at Pine Nuts the same way -they will always remind me of him! He enjoyed my Butterkuchen and couldn't resist a third piece when offered.

My family and I treasure that we had the chance to get reacquainted and we will dearly miss them. We will keep them in our hearts forever. Helena and Family

Eulogy - Peter Thiel
Eulogy - Celia Thiel (nee Hanckel)
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