November 27 1930 – May 14 2012
The daughter of a country policeman, Maureen Morrissey was born in Cooma, lived in Talimba, Cootamundra, Batemans Bay and finally in Yass, where she married Ron McGrath in 1952.
The second born in a family of 10, Maureen well knew the love, care and commitment required to raise a family and faced many challenges throughout her life. Around the age of five she was isolated in hospital in Cootamundra with diphtheria. She also left her family to board at St Michael's Hostel while attending Sydney Teachers College, although from the stories of the dances she didn't have too bad a time there!
Maureen went on to teach in Cootamundra, Yass Public and at Mt Carmel.
She underwent two major life-threatening operations in the 1960s and the 1980s. By far the most confronting thing she faced was the emotional and physical challenges of living with Parkinson's disease.
Despite these challenges Maureen lived a fulfilling life with Ron and their three sons Paul, Jim and Mark, and later with her grandchildren Michael, Richard and Georgie as well as Kate, Thomas, Lucy, Sean and Cody. She was also blessed with great grandchildren Matthew and Isabella.
There are many stories of Maureen helping Ron fencing, rabbiting, mustering on her own little postie bike and various farm vehicles, in which she taught her children to drive, often with hilarious results! Maureen loved being in the paddock and exploring around the river and, even when her mobility declined, she still took her little ‘tooter’ bike off to explore.
Maureen taught Paul and Jim at home for the first couple of years of primary school until she and others were able to organise the first Black Range school bus. She was a dedicated teacher and as her sons went through Mt Carmel, she was a constant volunteer at the school and took on the major project of developing the school library.
Maureen was always busy with a project. When her sons were attending St Patrick's in Goulburn, she was constantly knitting jumpers and beanies, baking biscuits and slices, re-covering chairs, writing stories, painting and the list goes on, right up until she and Ron took over the Rivett newsagency in Canberra and later the Yass newsagency.
Maureen had a great love of books and libraries; she read widely and belonged to Book Club for many years. She also wrote a number of short stories.
A proud 'old girl' of Mt Carmel, she was a member and later the president, of the ex-students association and, during those years, thoroughly enjoyed the training and presentation of debutantes at the Annual Ball.
Maureen loved the town, the countryside and the people of Yass. Her efforts in and around the community were officially commemorated when she was awarded the Centenary Medal in 1988, the Senior Citizens Award in 1999 and received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) from the Governor General in 2003.
The Red Cross was also one of her great loves and she devoted many years to their service, which was formally recognised with a 30-year service medal.
Despite the toll that it took, Parkinson's was a huge part of Maureen's life. When her everyday life started to be directly affected by the symptoms, she saw the need to start a support group locally. She was the founding president of the Yass Parkinson's Society which still continues today. Maureen did much fundraising for the organisation and was rewarded for her efforts with a voice amplifying microphone, which made life a lot easier for her for some years.
These things aside, apart from her family, flowers were Maureen's greatest passion. With flowers, oasis and vases often taking over the entire laundry and rest of the house, she put together the weekly floral arrangements for St Augustine's, created elaborate decorations for special occasions and for many people. Each year she particularly enjoyed submitting multiple entries for various Yass flower shows and won many prizes.
Her resolve to get it 'just right' with flower arranging flowed through all different parts of her life.
After leaving her beloved ‘Rosebank’, Maureen loved life in town; she enjoyed taking her bike down the street and loved the closeness of neighbours. Maureen left Rossi Street and moved into Linton just over three years ago, where the staff looked after her with great affection and kindness.
Maureen's strongest support was her husband Ron. They worked side by side, travelled the world and grew old together. Ron never left her side; they would have been married 60 years on August 25 this year.
Maureen was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, a god mother, aunt and friend, always smiling, carrying herself with grace and dignity, a beautiful and articulate woman who was passionate about teaching and her family. She lived and practised her faith and was an inspiration to all.
Maureen will be greatly missed.
Maureen's family would like to thank all those who donated so generously to the local Parkinson's Society in Maureen's memory.
They would also like to especially express their sincere thanks for all the kind wishes and wonderful support received from friends and family far and wide.