Egyptian obsession a labour of love

Our home care client has big dreams despite rheumatoid arthritis taking its toll. While we help at home, he can focus on his goals.

Former senior hotel manager Russell Decke’s (JP) passion for ancient Egypt has not abated for nearly 70 years, ever since he discovered this rich and mysterious world in the library at age five.

“I was just fascinated by the costumes and the statues … my first interest flourished years later as an adult when I went to a Tutankhamun exhibition at the art gallery in Perth.”

An avid “on and off again” collector with an interest in genuine and reproduction pieces, Russell filled his home with Egyptian objects and art.

He is now downsizing his vast collection, but will keep a life-size sarcophagus, a piece of pottery from Cleopatra’s bathing pool and stone from the floor of the Valley of the Kings.

In 2009, he realised his boyhood dream, travelling to the famed land of the Nile Valley, with its 5,000-year history of art, culture, enormous pyramids, statues and temples built by powerful kings and queens.

Home Care client Russell with his collection of Egyptian Artifacts
Home Care client Russell with his collection of Egyptian Artifacts

“What a lot of people don’t realise is that there were seven Cleopatras!” Russell said.

A chance meeting led to Russell attending some historical presentations and before long he became the longest serving president and life member of the Ancient Egypt Society of WA.

After organising with his committee a group trip to Egypt, he visited many “absolutely amazing” sites in Cairo, Alexandria, Amarna and Abu Simbel and had the ‘good fortune’ to meet the preeminent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.

And Russell has also met famous Aussie Egyptophile Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum a few times too!

Russell’s self-taught passion and knowledge eventually caught the eye of a cruise ship PR agent, who arranged for him to give presentations that led to more than 40 cruises.

Despite a career in hotel management being cut short by osteoarthritis, Russell’s passion for the ancient world has not waned.

His dream with partner Pam is to visit the new $1.5Bn Giza Museum, the world’s largest archaeological institution, that will show all of King Tut’s treasures for the first time since their discovery in 1922.

Home care client Russell is an avid collector