People Australia

  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites
  • searches all National Centre of Biography websites

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Lawrence Gustave Grulke (1909–1990)

This article was published:

Lawrence Gustave Grulke (1909-1990) teacher and trade union official

Birth: 18 October 1909 at Pittsworth, Queensland, son of Gustave Edward Ferdinand Grulke (1885-1958), a housepainter, and Annie Amelie, née Jorgensen (1888-1969). Marriages: (1) 15 February 1936 at Brisbane to Julia Catherine Healion (1895-1954). (2) 1957 at Brisbane to Betty Florence Hilda Pledger (1931-1992. Death: 11 September 1990 in St Mary’s Nursing Home, Manly, Queensland. Religion: Anglican. 

  • His paternal grandparents had been born in Pomeranie, Germany, his grandfather Gustave Edward Ferdinand senior (1848-1885), a labourer, at Dargeslaf, Kreis Greifenbert, and his grandmother Henriette Wilhelmine Karoline Beier (1847-1943) at Oaks Forest, Echstadtwalde. His maternal grandfather Hans Jorgensen (1857-1896), a farmer, was born at Andkjar, Jutland Denmark.
  • Lawrence was educated at State Schools, Toowoomba, Oakey, Wangary and Roma. He became a junior teacher, completing a BA part-time at the University of Queensland in 1929-1933. Graduated B Ed in 1948.
  • First teaching appointment, Roma, 1928, then worked in numerous schools before joining Teachers’ College as a lecturer in 1956.
  • Was a skilled public debater with the Workers Educational Association.
  • President, South Coast Association, Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU), 1943-1945; president, Stanthorpe group, 1946.
  • With his power base in Secondary School Teachers branch, Brisbane, he became council member of the QTU in 1950. In 1954 he was elected to executive. In 1955-1956 he was vice president.
  • In September 1956 Grulke was elected general secretary of the QTU.
  • Supported the Masonic/protestant faction in teaching service and union. ‘The epitome of a gentleman…urbane…evoked the various traits of civilised behaviour’. Took strong control of QTU, but a more militant, less reasonable approach may have achieved more for members.
  • Rejected approaches of the Trades and Labor Council re affiliation, striving to maintain distinction between blue and white-collar workers. Ineffectively resisted deterioration in teaching conditions/class sizes, though achieved notable success in securing equal pay in 1966.
  • His term as QTU general secretary ended in 1971.
  • Cause of death: bronchopneumonia (4 days), congestive cardiac failure (4 days) and Parkinson’s disease (20 years).

Queensland Teachers’ Journal
, September 1956, November 1971, July-August 1972. Andrew Spaull and Martin Sullivan, A history of the Queensland Teachers Union (Sydney, 1989.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Grulke, Lawrence Gustave (1909–1990)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


18 October, 1909
Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia


11 September, 1990 (aged 80)
Manly, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations