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Stephen Priest - A Eulogy
Stephen Priest - obituary
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Delivered by David Hannay October 24 1989

At The Northern Suburbs

Crematorium, Sydney

"I first met Stephen in the tape room at Channel Nine in 1970. He was this chubby kid from Gunnedah with the cheery smile. He was bright, eager, friendly, helpful and hardworking - but he was much more than that. He was exceptional. He brought a joy and enthusiasm to his work. The tape room during our late night edit sessions ceased to be a grey place of mediocrity and machinery with limitations. It became a humming creative environment. What we take for granted today in computerised video production, Stephen strove to achieve, and often succeeded in doing way back then. I looked forward to our regular working sessions with high anticipation. I was in awe of and delighted by his flying fingers and flying brain. At 18 he was the most intelligent person I had ever met without a developed intellect. His thought processes were uncluttered by unneeded learning. He saw things in a fresh almost primitive way. There were no limitations. Anything and everything was possible. The ideas just tumbled out. He was unstoppable, although there were those who tried to stop him even then. I was called to a meeting and informed that I had done Stephen great harm by choosing to work with him all the time. I was shocked. 'He's just a kid. You are giving him ideas. He's in danger of getting big-headed' I was told. 'He's a terrific editor', I protested. 'He's not an editor', was the rejoinder. 'He is a videotape operator. There are nine other operators in the tape room. He is just one of them.' Stephen was then transferred to the relay room. Can you imagine what it was like for him to sit and watch monitors and dials all day long? If it was meant to be punishment it didn't work. It gave him time to plan the future. There and then he began to entrepreneur his best possible asset - himself. From that point he created the environments that saw him flower both professionally and personally. We all know what he achieved and that was extraordinary. However, it is more important to recall who and what he was. He was a giver. He gave time, energy, effort, opportunities, support, loyalty, love. He created whole careers. He was a builder, not just for himself, but for all of us, and the future. In the very best tradition of what is good about Australia he was a pioneer and a visionary. He had passion and commitment. He was ahead of his time. We were lucky to know him.