Godfrey Eugene ''Rusty'' Priest was born in Melbourne in June 1927, one of three sons of William Priest and his wife, Patricia (nee O'Keeffe). Patricia died when the boys were young and William raised them.
As soon as he turned 18, he enlisted in the 2nd AIF, but just as he finished his training at Cowra, Japan surrendered and the war ended. He served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces Signals Regiment, 8th US Army Signals Corps and “A” Field Battery Royal Australian Army in Japan from April 1946 until December 1948, and stayed in the Army over the next 22 years moving through artillery, infantry and combined operations. In 1955, he married his wife, Merle.
He finished his time in the army with a promotion to Warrant Officer Class I and a posting to the Directorate of Artillery at Army Headquarters in Canberra, and retired in September 1967.
The Priests moved to Revesby in Sydney and Rusty took an administration position at the University of Sydney, where he stayed until he retired again, in 1990. He was to play a significant role in the Returned Servicemen's League holding the position of state president of the NSW RSL from 1993 to 2002 and deputy national president of the RSL from 1997 to 2002. He also played a significant volunteer role in a number of organisations including the office of chairman of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway Committee from 1995.
In 1997, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 he was awarded a Centenary Medal.
He was a champion for the those who served, and he played a significant role in restoring ANZAC Day as a central national observation, and raising the Kokoda Track as the a sacred memorial to those who served in the Second World War. On his proposal, the ANZAC Bridge was so named honouring the diggers of the First and Second World Wars. He was always a strong supporter of the Australian Flag and of the Crown.
His service was recognized by the State and Nation at a State Funeral in St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney on 1 October , and in a service at the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park.
This video report was broadcast over the national news network, SKY News Australia.