DORY STERN (1912-1990)
Dory Thorenberg grew up in Austria, and became the youngest to graduate from the Vienna Conservatorium of Music. In 1934, she married Egon Stern, but in 1938, they were forced to flee with just a suitcase after Hitler’s annexation of Austria. After a year in Luxembourg – during which time, Dory’s mother was taken to the Warsaw ghetto and eventually gassed in Dachau concentration camp – they came to Australia. In Sydney, Dory became the musical director of the world renowned Bodenwieser Ballet. Founded by another Holocaust survivor, they toured with their troupe of dancers over many years: South Africa, New Zealand and rural NSW. As proponents of modern expressive dance, they received rave reviews where ever they went. Having left her reproductive run too late, she adopted Nikki in 1956, later moving to Melbourne. Here, she became the pianist for several private girls’ schools, including MLC, Ivanhoe and Camberwell Girls’ Grammar. A passionate supporter of the arts, Dory loved not only music, but theatre and fine art. In an article in The Age, journalist, Martin Flanagan (who had visited Dory just days before her death) wrote of her intellectualism and compassion, describing her mind ‘as bright as sunlight off water’; and the unfathomable life experience of this ‘brave’ person. She’d played for him with her arthritic hands and he recalled: ‘That afternoon, for the first time, I heard Beethoven live’.

 

EGON STERN A.O (1910-1981)
Egon was raised in Vienna where he qualified as an engineer. He married Dory Thorenberg in 1934 and fled Vienna with just a suitcase after Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938. In Sydney, he worked as a design engineer for HMV before joining the Department of Civil Aviation in 1949. He rose rapidly through the ranks, becoming Chief Navaids engineer by 1962. He headed the team from DCA, who together formed a joint venture with the CSIRO’s Radio Physics division to develop Interscan, the Microwave Landing System (MLS). Although later adopted as the international standard by both the FAA in 1975 and ICAO in 1978, the technology was sold to American interests, where it was further developed by NASA. In 1978, Egon was praised in the Australian Senate for his pivotal role in the development of the MLS. On retirement from the Department of Transport (as senior assistant secretary), he became a consultant to several government departments; in 1979, he received an Order of Australia for services to aviation. Egon died at his home in Balwyn in 1981 after complications from Parkinson’s disease.