Thought to be the College’s longest ever resident, George Mounsey lived at Ormond for sixty-five years. Loved by generations of students and staff, George defined Ormond for so many who passed through its doors, with his warm friendships, love of football, care for the grounds and reliable fires long remembered by the community. 

George’s early life was difficult. Born in a Fitzroy foundlings’ home to a teenage single mother, he never knew his parents. During his early years he called several orphanages home and with no opportunity to learn to read or write he worked on farms and as a drover whilst still a boy. In his early teens he contracted polio which robbed him of almost all use of his left arm; his left leg also dragged when he walked from then on. 

George Mounsey at Ormond.

When Ormond offered him a home and work in 1954, George’s life took a better turn. Employed to stoke fires for heating and hot water, the hard-working young man soon took on other jobs. He became a familiar figure around Ormond, always followed by his two dogs. As well as lighting fires, in the early days he swept, washed, waxed and polished the linoleum floors that were in all the corridors in the 1950s, and often helped ‘Smithy’ the gardener and Matron Bell. Even forty years later, when fires had long since been replaced by a heating system, the Vesti fire that George lit each day in winter was a beacon of warmth for students returning from University. No one could set a better fire, and George’s fires never went out.

George had an excellent rapport with Ormond students, who delighted in covering for him when Government Departments were unsympathetic to his illiteracy. In one case they helped arrange a driver’s licence for him, out of necessity inventing a birth date for him along the way. Another student has fond memories of chatting with George for hours when working over the summer break. He also recalls a standing bet with George of a dozen bottles of beer to the man whose football team did best for the year. The bet continued for years after the student left Ormond. Others recall him as a firm friend and as a mentor to them in their efforts for the College football team.

In 1993 George officially ‘retired’ but continued to light his legendary fires to warm the Vesti. Later, ill health forced him into care at Mercy Place in Parkville, where he lived until his passing in 2016. George lives on not only in the memory of all who knew him, but in a scholarship established with funds left by him which will support country students to attend Ormond. In addition, George’s life is commemorated with a brass plaque beside the Vesti fireplace; an appropriate location to remember one who warmed the hearts of so many Ormondians.

He was truly one of Ormond’s ‘eternals’ – someone you always expected to see when you walked into the College and someone who’s presence defined and dignified Ormond for so long.

– Ed Morgan (1993)

George (left) with other longstanding staff members in 2007 (L-R) Colin Barnes, Despina Kostantinidis and Dennis Stammers.

Share your Ormond story

Every Ormondian has their own unique experience of College life, and their own story to tell. Do you remember George? Share your favourite story with us.