Sadly, the FCC has lost two of our most distinguished members, Ray Cranbourne and Gopi Gopalan, in the same week. Both Ray and Gopi were stalwart members of the Club and important contributors to local and international media for many decades.
Gopi Goplan 1935 – 2015
The FCC regrets the passing of Gopi Gopalan, a long time journalist in Hong Kong and a member of the FCC, who passed away in India on Nov. 12 after a long illness. We extend our sympathies to his family.
Gopi was a popular and respected figure in the club, and a distinguished journalist for more than 50 years. Over the years he interviewed figures including former Philippine President Marcos, Hong Kong’s last governor, Chris Patten, and the Beatles.
Gopi came to Hong Kong in the early 1960s and joined the Far Eastern Economic Review as production editor, later becoming one of its assistant editors. In 1964, he left the Review and joined Asia Magazine, a weekly based in Hong Kong and circulated with many leading daily newspapers in Asia.
For a period, he was its correspondent in Malaysia. After Asia Magazine, he has worked with the Press Foundation of Asia in Manila, The Asian (a Hong Kong-based weekly broadsheet circulated with major Asian dailies), the Asiaweek, and as the editor of the monthly Hong Kong Business.
When others would have long since retired, Gobi never slowed down. He walked the streets during the occupy protests and last year at age 79 started a magazine on the fresh produce trade.
Ray Cranbourne 1933-2015
Sadly, the FCC has lost another of its iconic, Vietnam War era members. Ray Cranbourne passed away in Manila earlier this week. Ray and his wife Nida have been living between their apartment in Makati, Manila, and their home in Mui Wo, Lantau island, since Ray hung up his cameras and took up his golf clubs full time several years back.
Ray worked as a newspaper photographer for the Herald Sun in his hometown of Melbourne before setting off on a marathon world tour by Vespa after covering the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He travelled extensively in Europe and the UK, then set sail, with his Vespa, to New York where he proceeded to crisscross the US extensively before returning to Melbourne a year later.
In1966 Ray again set sail, this time to Indochina to cover the Vietnam War, and where he again bought another Vespa to get him around the hotspots in and around Saigon, including the 1968 Tet Offensive.
As the war wound down Ray moved to Hong Kong, one many of Vietnam War correspondents who had made the FCC their second home during their R&R breaks there. He then married Nida, who he had met in Manila while he was covering the 1970 papal visit, and yes, he bought another Vespa.
Ray and Nida ran a photographic studio in Central and, as well as working for the major media groups in the region, they included a number of Hong Kong’s leading business groups and government offices among their clients, including Cathay Pacific, Swire, HSBC, HKTA and HKTDC.
Ray was a regular at the Club and a keen supporter of the FCC Golf Society, never missing an overseas tour or the local tournaments. As his old colleague and friend, David Thurston recounts below, he will be remembered fondly and missed by many.
“Very saddened to have a phone call just now from Kent Hayden Sadler to tell me that our old friend Ray Cranbourne had not survived a massive heart attack in Manila. He was 82. and must have been one of the last of the single figure FCC membership numbers veterans, the Charlie Smith, Bert Okuley, Hugh Van Es, Vietnam war boys.
“What a dear man he was. Always there with a ready wit – “bon mots” he called them, eschewing the French pronunciation in favour of his native “melb’n strine”. Generous with hospitality, he was never more at home than when on his roof at Tong Fuk, Lantau, tending ribs, wings and sausages, tongs in one hand, glass in the other.
“He truly loved to laugh and I never ever heard him say a bad word about anyone.
“ Someone must tell the story of him leaving Oz, buying a Vespa to go and shoot the Rome Olympics in 1960 and travelling around the world on it. Marrying Nida and leaving the wedding with her perched on the back.
“We shared a common passion for photography, but Ray, with typical lack of pretentiousness, never considered himself as anything more than a good craftsman.
“Always ready to help the beginner, whether it be taking pictures or starting out at golf, he was, with me, proud co-founder of the Tong Fuk Golf and Paddy Club to which we would repair after lunch on Sundays and try a hit balls into an oil drum 100 yards away on a piece of rough swampy land.
“I am lucky to have spent many happy hours in his company.”
David Thurston, Totnes, UK.