Elders farewelled

Over its more than fifty years, St Philip's has enjoyed the fellowship of many fine elders. Here are some we have farewelled recently.

Betty Heaton

Betty June Heaton, 1924-2017

Betty Heaton (neé Williams) had lived in her O'Connor home from the early fifties.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the pioneers of whom Betty was one. They established the parish and built the parish hall (now used by the kindergarten). The women worked tirelessly to pay off the parish debt. They raised their families here and supported schools and activities such as scouts and guides as well as the church. Betty was the wife of Joseph and mother of Dennis, Chrystine and Gary. Her funeral was at St Philip's on Friday 31st March 2017. Thank you Betty, we farewell you with sorrow and with gratitude.

Ethel Rae McInnes, 1832-2016

She was working quietly in her beloved garden, one sunny Canberra afternoon, when Ethel felt a little tired and decided to take a nap. She died peacefully and was found at rest later that afternoon.

Ethel Cootes was born on 19 February 1932 in Bombala and died at her home in Canberra on 24 March 2016. She was the wife of Mervyn who died before her. Ethel had cared for him for a long time after had a stroke. Ethel loved family—her children Gregory, Colin and Lynne, grandsons Sebastian and Zachary, sister Janice, brothers Albert and Ted (dec), brother-in-law of Barry and sister-in-law Pamela.

Ethel's career was as a primary teacher. She was a masterly innovator and curriculum designer and powerfully dedicated to the wellbeing of her pupils. At St Philip's, Ethel imersed herself in a great array of practical help and ministry, with joy and loving care.

Ethel's daughter Lynne gave the eulogy of at Ethel's funeral on 1 April 2016.
You can read it here (pdf file)

Words that Ethel might have said

Relatives and friends, I am about to leave;
my last breath does not say “goodbye,”
for my love for you is truly timeless,
beyond the touch of death.

I leave myself not to the undertaker,
for decoration in his house of the dead,
but to your memory with love.

I leave my thoughts, my laughter, my dreams
to you whom I have treasured
beyond gold and precious gems.

I give you what no thief can steal,
the memories of our times together:
the tender, love-filled moments,
the successes we have shared,
the hard times that brought us closer together
and the roads we have walked side by side.

And all I take with me as I leave
is your love and the millions of memories
of all that we have shared.
So I truly enter my new life
as a millionaire. .

Fear not nor grieve at my departure,
you whom I have loved so much,
for my roots and yours
are forever intertwined.

Adapted from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim,
by Edward Hays, 1989; read at Ethel’s funeral.by Revd Jeannette McHugh.


Ethel has picked her last bouquet,
bottled her last harvest and
baked her last cake.
She has gone, peacefully
and content, to her rest.
—family tribute


Dr Michael Sawer OAM, 1942-2014

Michael was a parishioner here at St Philip's for many years. Friends and family farewelled Michael at a private service on Friday 15 August. There will a joyful public celebration of Michael's life in a few weeks.

Dr Michael Sawer OAM was an Associate Professor in Chinese linguistics in the School of Languages and International Studies of the University of Canberra. He remained an Adjunct Associate Professor until his death.

Michael held a Bachelor of Oriental Studies with 1st Class Honours and PhD in Chinese Linguistics—both from ANU. He studied the teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language at Beijing Language and Culture University and taught Mandarin Chinese at Australian universities and English at universities in China and Taiwan from 1970. He led study tours to China and undertook language research in both Beijing and Taipei.

Dr Sawer was awarded OAM for contributions to Australia-China relations.

Michael was a fine musician and bass singer. He appeared in many theatrical and choral productions presented by a wide variety of Canberra musical organisations.

Valarie Reeves 1933-2013

Val Reeves died on 18 June 2013 and her funeral was held at St Philip's on the 25th. Our Rector, the Revd Rebecca Newland, summed up our thoughts well when she said:

Val was a special member of our church family and we will miss her very much. We will always remember her beautiful smile, her soft face and her thoughtful care. …

We can let her understanding of God comfort us and point us to the love that overcomes all endings and all death. Val chose Psalm 23 and the reading from John's gospel (Jn 14.1-6). …

All the music and readings Val chose are about going home to God, dwelling in God's loving presence. This faith, this hope and assurance meant that Val could face her ending with courage, hope, love, acceptance and trust that God was with all of you. … Val trusted in God and put her life in God's hands and heart. This gave her immense dignity and courage.
Valarie Reeves
David Gowty

David Gowty 1946-2013

The St Philip's community was saddened by the death of David Gowty on Wednesday 6th March 2013, the day before his 67th birthday. He died in hospital in Brisbane from organ failure caused by aggressive non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

David's funeral was on 11th March in Brisbane. A well-attended memorial service was held on Wednesday 27th March at St Philip's.

David and Beryl were long-standing members of St Philip's and had moved from Canberra to Brisbane only recently following David's retirement. David and Beryl visited us on 3rd of February for Melinda's confirmation. Beryl and David's daugher, Sarah and son Tim and his wife Melinda are members of our church family.

David's life-work was in international development, which took him and his family on assignment to Africa and Asia and the Pacific. Most recently, David was a Planning Adviser in the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Nouméa.

At the commencement of David's funeral service in the Church of St Andrew the Apostle, Indooroopilly, family members brought symbols of David's life: a candle of faith, a jar of David's honey, an African milk container, a Vanuatu chief's spear, a book about the Geelong Cats, and a Mongolian head piece.

Read here about David's Bee-keeping legacy, as told by Dimitri Markotsis.

Lenore Carola Parke 1931-2012

Linda Anchell writes:

Many from the parish attended Carola's funeral at St Philip's on Friday 17 August 2012. The special thing about a funeral is learning of those parts of a person's life that you did not know. It is a privilege to hear but also a reminder that our lives are full and are lived in many different place.

Carola was born in England, near the village of Sturminster Marshall, East Dorset,, on 8 February 1931 and died in Canberra on 19 July 2012.

Carola's sister Isobel wrote from the USA of her early years.Carola lost her father Charles when very young. (From our Memorial book we learn that she was five years old.) Her mother was determined that the four girls should have a good education. Carola went to St Andrew's University and graduated with a degree in liberal arts. There was work in London. Then Carola took advantage of the opportunity to migrate to Australia, working first in Alice Springs, but soon coming to Canberra.

We heard from many of Carola's work colleagues at the ANU. She was a very good teacher and mentor in Administration in various sections. Neighbours in Dryandra St and parishioners also spoke and told of her neighbourly kindness. Carola was creative and had great curiosity; a lover of flowers and her 'English garden'. Philida Sturgiss-Hoy describes her as a "walking dictionary" and spoke of her flower arranging here for many years. Marmalade and cumquat brandy were remembered. St Philip's has kneelers made by Carola and also by her mother.

Annette Horvath who was Carola's carer and brought her to church told of a time by the lake when swans and their cygnets swam away from them. Annette retreated, Carola went down towards them and the swans returned, cooing at their young ones and quite comfortable with Carola's presence near them. Carola came back when the swans left, beaming with pleasure. Annette reminds us that an hour spent with someone who will not remember is still a valuable time: treasure it.

And now I pray that God is holding Carola's hand as tightly as she often held my hand as we left the church, going wherever it was Carola was wanting to go! But more especially, that God would be holding and guiding her, just as Annette would then hold and guide Carola to where they needed to be going.

Carola Parke

Rose Anchell 1916-2010

The Revd Rebecca Newland's reflection given at Rose's funeral is here.

Eulogy at Rose's funeral, given by her daughter-in-law, the Revd Linda Anchell

Rose AnchellRose was born on 8 February 1916 within the sound of Bow Bells, in Homerton, in London's East End—a true Cockney. It was the eighth of the second, 1916; a fact that she remembered to her dying day. The youngest of a family of five children, it was probably her father who called her "the last rose of summer" (and, Mum used to add: "and still blooming!"). Her mother, very sternly, told the other children who called her 'fatty' that "Her name is Rose!".

A childhood with Salvation Army Sunday School, jumping over balustrades, and, if it wasn't just an older imagination, sliding down banisters, set her up to be the wonderful cockney that she was.

But life was not to be a straight forward, simple, affair. A Londoner born in 1916 had much to contend with. Poverty and war were facts of life. Rose managed a hair perm twice a year and swimming too! (Swimming lessons did get you out of school!) She won a medal in a works swimming carnival in 1932 at the Oglethorpe Bowl (but neglected to teach her son to swim!).

In 1939, Rose East married Fred Anchell of the Rifle Brigade, at the Hackney Registry office. The photos were taken in front of the protective sandbags.

Rose went into the Land Army. The London factory worker was, it would seem, rather unwilling. But driving a tractor into a ditch meant returning to London (and the bombs).

Fred returned after gallant service in Calais (and a dunking in the channel) then left for North Africa where he became a prisoner of war for the remainder of the hostilities.

Rose was evacuated to Hertfordshire to give birth to her first son, Fred (or Freddie) and again, quickly returned to London. In 1946 Rodney was born, but after many medical problems he died in 1948. A grief shared with few.

Rose worked in factories: stitching cheque books; Berger's Paints, The Metal Box factory; many and various places.

A move from Walthamstow (London) to Kent — Davis Estate in Chatham — meant work at Rochester airport industrial area and Foster Clark's canning factory and the Sharps Toffee Factory in Maidstone, Kent.

Fred (senior) was struggling with bronchitis stirred up by the war. In 1961 the family set sail on the Arcadia to Australia. (Rose was over forty.) Adelaide was the destination. Young Fred found his feet in Melbourne. But Rose and Fred senior were unsettled and returned to England. To find work, they went to Rose's eldest brother in South Africa. That was a difficult time.

One thing that should be said about Rose is that she noticed people. She loved company and did not recognise social boundaries, especially not racial ones. Apartheid era South Africa was not an easy place to be.

Young Fred had by now become an Australian. So they returned to Australia and found work in Victoria as gardener and cook/housekeeper at various Western District farming properties, cooking for jackaroos and neighbours.

One dinner party guest asked who had cooked the meal, then went in to the kitchen to thank the cook. It was the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser (who owns a property in the Western District).

As Fred's emphysema worsened, they took work in Melbourne, at the Walter and Eliza Hall institute. Here Rose was "bottle washer" for Sir Gustav Nossel.

Retirement came in Geelong with Rose nursing Fred until his death in 1986.

LondonersShe was then in the RSL Village and a good neighbour to all. In the late 1990's Rose realised that she needed to move closer to Fred and Linda near Queanbeyan. She found the Legacy Village units and arranged to move.

So Rose came to Queanbeyan. She continued to enjoy cruising, including cruises on the QEII amongst others. She visited relatives in Ireland and travelled the world on her own or with (young) Fred. She joined in the social life of Legacy village; walked into town to the Chinese bakery and the icecreamery and connected with St Philip's in O'Connor.

But on her last cruise to New Zealand, things were not right. Mum came back with flu, saw a gerontologist and was diagnosed with dementia. It had come on late in life and she was independent for a few more years. Eventually there was the need for assisted living at George Forbes House.

Here Rose's cockney humour came to the fore. To enquiries about her health. "How are you?", "All right", is the answer, "all down one side" (with right hand swinging downwards).

"What do you want on your sandwich today?" asks Chris. "A man!" is the reply.

Rose, you never did find that millionaire at the club! Sorry.

PS. I forgot one important event in Rose's life. She kissed the Blarney Stone! (in her late seventies or eighties). She would definitely have slid down banisters. I was not definite enough about that in the eulogy!"

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Ann Williams, 1933-2010

Ann Williams

The Revd Rebecca Newland's reflection given at Ann's funeral is here.

With her husband, Dr Baden Williams, Ann was part of the team that looks after our Pandora's@O'Connor used-clothing shop and took part in our Wednesday congregation.

Ann's family spoke of her love of life, literature and family, and of the web of letters and calls she wove caringly to keep her family connected to her and each other. This verse, a love poem by the author ofCharlotte's Web, was in the order of service.

A spider's web (a natural history)

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.

—E.B. White (1929)

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Joyce Webster 1919-2010

The Revd Doug Bannerman's sermon given at Joyce's funeral is here.

Charlotte Webster, Joyce's granddaughter gave the eulogy.

Granddaughter-in-law Sarah read a poem written by Kathy Clarkson. Kathy was Joyce's friend and Katy's mother, Amy Plant, née Keats was with Joyce on the hospital ship Karoa in India during the war.


A little rosebud bloomed in Suffolk
and joined the flowers in the fields
Frolicking laughter was her joy
till breathless wonder sorrow yields
But from every winter a robin sings
Bright-coloured flame to blossom springs
Touching those whose senses meet
such fragrance fluttering, so complete.
Whatever thorns the rose does bear,
only soft incense is petalled there
to remind us of sweet blissful days,
magic moments that transcend a graze;
Everlasting memories pure
Friendship & love, connect & endure
So, though the flower fades and dies
Rejoice such beauty through its disguise.
— a tribute to Joyce Webster by Kathy Clarkson, 2010.

Joyce and Roger

Angus Webster, Joyce's great grandson also spoke:

Joyce, also known as GG, was a great person in many ways but living to 91 was amazing. I was very lucky to have a great-grandmother who I got to know well. GG was always excited every time I came over. When I was little she used to help me reach the peephole in her unit. When I started talking, I used to say GG can you help me reach the peephole and she usually just laughed but it wouldn't matter to me as she helped me see through the hole.

She used to knit me jumpers and always asked me what colour I would like; first a red one then a bright orange one. She also bought me a black teddy when I was just born which I still have today.

When we came to stay she let my parents sleep in her room and me sleep in the spare room with her. She was born in 1919 the youngest of three children John, Joan and Joyce. She always remembered my birthday and always rang me up. Thank you GG and I will always miss you

Angus also read to us Joyce's 'standing orders':

Joyce Webster's standing orders to us all

Face the days that lie ahead with a spirit of adventure, compassion, honesty and confidence. Brave the stormy seas that are bound to confront you, determined to sail your ship on to the quiet waters which lie ahead. Help those whom you may find in trouble and steer clear of the whirlpools of destruction which you will meet on your voyage through life. Be not afraid of who you are, what you are or where you are, but cling implicitly to the Truth as taught in the religion of your following. If you do all these things, you will be "of service". If you are "of service" you will make others happy, and you will be happy too.
ascribed to Sir Ian Tennant, former Chairman of Governors of Gordonstoun School Scotland, spoken Kurt Halm (its founder) died in 1974. This is Sir Iain's imagined version of what Halm might have said to a young person leaving Gordonstoun. Adapted by Derrick Webster.

Joyce and Rose
Joyce and Rose, with Pat and Sarah in 2006.