VALE: Graham Coldwell AOM

Graham passed away peacefully on Monday 28 November 2022.

“Love of water led to rowing”
The Advertiser, June 10, 2012

“WORKING in shipping at Port Adelaide was short term for Graham Coldwell, but his love of water persisted.

Sailing in the port, his siblings encouraged him to change sport to rowing, where he eventually captained the Port Adelaide Rowing Club.

A sea change was forced upon him when his new career of teaching led him to Renmark, where he continued his involvement in rowing.

Mr Coldwell is being honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) today for his services to rowing in South Australia. “I’m proud, very much so,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to thank my family for, especially my wife. They talk about ‘rowing widows’, and my three boys were supportive.”

Mr Coldwell, 80, was a rowing coach at school, club and state levels for more than 50 years from 1956 and served on the general and executive committees of the South Australian Rowing Association 1950-86.

He was made a life member of Rowing South Australia in 1978.

Mr Coldwell also helped to design and build the Kings College boathouse on the Torrens River.”


Thanks to Australian Rowing History, Andrew Guerin for the history below.

Graham D Coldwell OAM

Port Adelaide Rowing Club (SA)

Athlete, Captain of Boats and coach at Port Adelaide Rowing Club (SA).

Coach at Renmark RC and Mannum RC.

Rowing Master and coach at Kings College (now Pembroke School) and Prince Alfred College.

Coach at Torrens Rowing Club and Adelaide University Boat Club and coach of South Australian (Penrith Cup and King’s Cup) crews.

A leading rower, coach and administrator of the sport. He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to the sport.

Graham has been a superlative mentor to school rowers.

Graham was appointed by the Kings College Headmaster Rev RA Cook in 1958 to develop for the school a vibrant rowing program from scratch.

He had a very strong affinity with the school, the rowers and its rowing program.

Graham has been a superlative mentor to school rowers.

Under Graham’s leadership the school, notwithstanding its small numbers, was very successful winning the Head of the River on three occasions (also one second), State Championships and a National Schoolboys Eights Championship.

Under Graham, by focussing on coaching at all levels, the school won many of the other under age events at the Head of the River. In fact in 1970 they won all underage events.

Graham was instrumental in the school building the schools boathouse on Torrens Lake and was integral in its forward thinking design.

In 1973 Graham moved to Prince Alfred College as Rowing Coach with PAC winning their first Head of the River for 37 years in 1979 under Graham’s coaching excellence

Graham’s Rowing and Coaching Record

1952 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championships stroke – Sixth

1953 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championships stroke – Fifth

1955 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championships two seat – Sixth

1958 – Interstate Men’s Lightweight Four Championships coach – Fourth

1958 – Appointed inaugural Rowing Master and coach at Kings College to start their rowing program

1961 – Kings admitted to the SA Head of the River

1963 – Kings win their first Head of the River for the Gosse Shield

1966 – Kings win the SA Head of the River Schoolboy Eights

1967 – Kings win the SA Head of the River Schoolboy Eights

1967 – Kings win the State Championships for Schoolboy Eights

1967 – King’s win the Schoolboy Four at the King’s Cup Regatta at Murray Bridge

1968 – Kings wins the Australian Schoolboy Eights Championship in Ballarat

1970 – Kings wins all the under age school fours races

1971 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach SA – Second

1972 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach SA – Fourth

1974 – Interstate Men’s Eight Championship coach SA – Second

1979 – PAC wins the SA Head of the River (first win since 1942)

1984 – PAC wins SA Head of the River

1988 – PAC wins the Australian Schoolboys Four Championship

1952 South Australian Crew

Graham served on the General and Executive Committees of South Australian Rowing Association, 1950-1986.

SA representative as Councillor, Rowing Australia, 1960s.

Life Member Rowing SA, 1978.

Chairman and Member, Head of the River Committee, 1963-1991.

Founding member of the Resting Rowers Consortium which raises funds initially for the development of West Lakes Aquatic Centre and also SA Rowing.

A leading rowing coach at school, club and state level, from 1956, including a period of 50 consecutive years.

Graham recently reflected on his 70 plus years of being involved with rowing in correspondence with Colin Smith with the following words:

Rowing has been an important part of my life and I have always striven to use that experience to help others especially those who benefit from the team spirit, social interaction and life lasting friendships especially in schools. If what I have done in this way has been achieved then I will die as a satisfied man. I use you as one of my favourite examples in all the good things I value about the sport.

Andrew Guerin, and considerably updated by Colin Smith in May 2022 with much additional information.
January 2021



Funeral service details for Mr Graham David Coldwell OAM, including Livestream Link

“Family and friends of Graham are invited to attend his Funeral Service

on MONDAY, 5th December 2022 at 10:00am in the
Chapel of Berry’s Funeral Home, 204 Magill Road, Norwood.

Please enter the Chapel car park via Prosser Avenue.”

For those who can’t attend, the link for the “Livestream” video of the Funeral Service will become active at 9.45am, Monday 5th December, and the recording will be available later.