James Duke moved to Altona in 1917 with his wife Mary from Brunswick where they had contributed to Victoria’s growing population by producing 12 children.
Although many of the children had reached maturity by the time they moved to Altona, there was still a brood at home needing James’ attention, yet he was able to involve himself in a number of local projects that would eventually benefit the whole community. He was a founding member of the Altona Life Saving Club, Altona Football Club, and Altona Hospital to name some of his achievements.
James was part of the first committee organising the establishment of a new hospital in the local area, bringing the project to fruition when the doors in Pier Street opened in October 1932, although we suspect James becoming the first inpatient of the new hospital may not have been planned.
Alan Paproth enjoyed the distinction of being the first baby born at the new hospital when he came into the world on 18 October 1932, a welcomed fifth addition to the family of Herman John (Jack) Paproth and Annie Elizabeth Paproth (nee McCann).
When the new hospital building was opened in February 1938 on the corner of Queen and Sargood Streets, five year old Alan participated in the ceremony presenting posies of flowers to wives of the official party.
At the tender age of eight years young Alan’s happiness was to suffer a serious setback with the death of his mother Annie in early 1941 and then his older brother Leonard in 1943. His father Jack was conscious of the family’s need for a maternal influence in their lives and by 1949 had married the widow Annie Gaynor Walker creating their own blended family of up to 10 children.
Alan was again receiving care and support from the Duke family as his step-mother was the daughter of the same James Duke.
Alan’s father Jack Paproth gained his own distinction in the community where he lived for 45 years. He was a returned WWI soldier who received two prestigious awards in recognition of his work for being a founding member of the Altona RSL, and all the effort he put into looking after returned veterans.
Alan married Cynthia Margaret Mullins producing daughter Suzanne, and was predeceased by wife Cynthia when he eventually passed away in 2007 aged 75 years.