Obituary (from Pastor Mike Fulwood 4.9.01)
Heinar Streimann was born in Tartu, Estonia in December 1938 and his early life was shaped by the events of World War II. His father, serving in the air force, was killed in the fighting and his family including his mother, grandmother and brother Illar were forced to flee their native Estonia towards the end of the war. They made their way to Oldenburg in Germany to begin a new life and it was in Oldenburg that Heinar began his schooling, before emigrating to Australia with his family in the winter of 1950. There he settled in Seymour, Victoria where he completed his matriculation at Seymour High before moving to Melbourne to take a job with the Bureau of Meteorology. In 1961 he moved again, this time venturing to Papua New Guinea where he worked in the forestry industry. He particularly worked at surveying -planning and building roads for this growing industry. It was in Papua New Guinea that Heinar's love for botany began to come to the fore. He pursued his interest with a passion and eventually began teaching about botany at the forestry school. At the same time he continually developed his interest in the tropical plants that he saw around him every day.
During this period he began to correspond intermittently with a pen pal named Angelina from the Philippines. Lina remembers that sometimes his letters were long and perhaps "a little boring" and because sometimes it was hard to read the writing she didn't always reply at once to Heinar's letters. But he was persistent and their correspondence continued. It wasn't until he visited the Philippines in 1965 that their relationship blossomed -in fact they were married in Manilla on the 12th July 1965 after a whirlwind courtship. Theirs was a lifelong friendship that stood the test of time and lasts even today.
Together, Heinar and Lina had three children, Arlene (born in 1968 in Seymour, Victoria), Mirja (who was born in Lae PNG in 1972) and Arvid who was born in the Philippines in 1977. As the different birthplaces of the children attest Heinar and Lina travelled widely, working in various parts of the world as well as discovering the different things that each place had to offer. Only last year they spent six months overseas visiting Egypt, Greece, the US, Finland and Estonia where Heinar was interested to "rediscover" his family roots. This desire to travel and "explore" remained a passion of Heinar's throughout his life.
But his greatest passion was botany, particularly the study of mosses, which became a speciality and in which field he was recognised as an "expert" and was widely respected amongst his colleagues and peers. Heinar studied for many years part-time to complete a Degree in Applied Science and a Master of Science. In the field he worked to discover, collect, identify and catalogue a wide variety of plants, some of the previously unidentified ones being named after him. Under his influence Canberra became host to the biggest collection of mosses in the Southern Hemisphere. The family recalls how often a family trip became a work expedition as Heinar suggested that they stop for "just a half an hour" by the roadside as he investigated a specimen he had caught sight of from the car. But field trips also were turned into family trips as he combined his love of travel, botany and family into a memorable mixture of work and play undertaken in many different places.
Even up to his death Heinar was concerned to complete a catalogue of mosses that he was working on. It was almost complete but it bothered him to leave the job unfinished and he was relieved when his friend and colleague Jack Elix agreed to complete the task.
Heinar also had other interests in life. He maintained an extensive stamp collection, was deeply interested In trains and travel, and was, quite naturally, a committed gardener. He not only worked on his own garden but. planned arid built gardens 'for the children and helped neighbors and friends in the garden -too. It was in his nature to be precise and planned so he left detailed plans for the garden at home when he became sick.
Heinar also loved Estonian music, although to the amusement of Lina and the children he would often sing along tunelessly with his favourite songs.. Quiet and private by nature Heinar was more of a "one to one" person than someone who was at ease in large group. He gave himself to his family and his friends and was generous to others and willing to help those in need.
Perhaps the term that would describe him best was "gentleman".
At the heart of Heinar's life was his family. He was an active father. The children remember the bike rides that they took with dad each Saturday evening when they were growing up, the numerous trips they took together and the way in which he would "swing" them to bed in the evenings.
In Mirja's words "he was always there when you needed him."
Arlene recalls how when she was a little girl, she could always climb up onto his desk, sit on his work and be sure that he would gladly read her a Donald Duck comic.
For Arvid there were many precious times spent camping and bush walking.
Lina remembers Heinar making pancakes and banana fritters for the whole family. He loved to cook and make everyone this treat but she also remembers that he was never very good at cleaning up.
In short Heinar was a family person.
In 1999 Heinar was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Treatment followed and for most of 2000 he was able to live normally but earlier this year the cancer returned and in June it struck him hard. Finally after a tough struggle with the effects of his cancer Heinar died on Wednesday 29th August at around 6.30am in John James Hospital. He was aged 62 years.
Heinar is remembered and mourned by his wife Lina, his children Arlene, Mirja and Arvid and by many other friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
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