The Celebration of the Life of Monica Sheehan took place on 19 February 2014 at St Peter Chanel Church in Hunters Hill. It was very well attended. The remaining three Battlers for Kelly‚ Bush – Dr Joan Croll, Miriam Hamilton and Christina Dawson, and Jack Mundey were also there.
Read more about Monica’s amazing life below:
- Monica‚ two daughters, Kay Philip and Lorraine Hamilton, gave the words of remembrance.
- A Mayoral Minute was moved by the Mayor Richard Quinn at the Council Meeting in the Town Hall on Monday night, 24 February at 7.30pm.
- TWT Article.
Monica’s Celebration of Life, St Peter Chanel, Hunters Hill, 19 February 2014
Words of remembrance Lorraine Hamilton, daughter
It is wonderful to see so many of my mothers friends and relatives here today. Not only those who live nearby but those who have travelled long distances.
If I were to hand this microphone around the church for each of you to share a memory, I’m sure the big picture would be of a larger-than-life personality who made the very most of her 95 yrs.
Life for Monica began at the end of WW1 in 1918. She grew up with her parents Tom and Alice Walsh at Clovelly near her grandparents the Washingtons. This was a house full of young aunts and uncles all wanting to party on. Her energetic Grandmother was dearly beloved. Monica inherited Washington genes. From a young age she knew how to enjoy life.
Monica left school early and after doing a secretarial course joined the SCC along with her life long friends Joan Allen and Norma Dalley. Here she met and later married Abe Sheehan in 1941. This was chalk marrying cheese! You will no doubt remember Dad as a quietly spoken, gentle person. He was an auditor. Their 3 children myself, Kay and Tim were brought up in Homebush.
In 1959 they moved to Hunters Hill, next door to the Dalleys in Wybalena Road.
Monnie soon joined the tennis club and played till her 70’s. For many years she was the secretary and along with the other players helped secure the financial footing of the club when it was in danger of having to sell court no 5. Monnies idea of raising money was to hold chicken in the basket dinners, theatre shows, progressive dinners and of course the great Melbourne Cup day each year. She was made Life Member of both Hunters Hill and White City clubs and has always been warmly welcomed back for the occasional afternoon tea.
Monnie was involved in many interest groups:
- Yoga club was formed in the 70’s. and rented the tennis club premises.
- The Bennelong Liberal Party required premises – they too rented the tennis club. Monnie became quite friendly with the young John Howard.
- In 1975 Monica was a founder of the Hunters Hill Penguin Club. It too rented the tennis club. Here women learned the art of public speaking. Mum loved this. In the 1980’s she became President of the NSW Executive and enjoyed travelling to country towns and interstate. Here she spoke to groups and conventions. She loved it.
- She loved the theatre. From the city shows to the grand-children’s christmas plays. She was a great supporter of the Hunters Hill Dramatic Society. For many shows she would book the entire hall out for an evening and sell about 100 seats to friends.The Washington genes are still at work!
- Monica was politically active. She joined WEL womens electoral lobby which involved members attending Council meetings to report on Councillors voting intentions. Mum was well known in the Hunters Hill Council.
- Then there were her constant Letters to the SMH on a broad range of topics. Monnie never hesitated to voice her opinion .
Monica derived much pleasure from her garden. I always maintained their’s was the best in Wybalena Rd.
In late 1970’s mum and Dad built a holiday house on the beachfront at Mollymook where over the years the family has enjoyed many wonderful holidays. Dad especially loved the golf and Monnie occasionally accompanied him .
Then there were The lunches with Betty Ling. Betty Ling was the wife of the Taiwan ambassador who lived in Hunters Hill for a few years. So some of the women organised lunches at each others places with Betty giving cooking demos and then the taste testing!. These lunches continued for many years after Betty’s departure.
Mum and Dad adored travelling. Their specialty was cargo boats which took them around the Coast of Australia, to ports of the Pacific Islands, and even to Japan. They saw ports unvisited by todays big ships.
In 1973 they did a Eurail trip around Europe for a month and in later years they re-established contact after 100 years with their Irish cousins in Kerry. Monnie fondly reminisced about their sailing up the Norwegian coast to see the midnight sun.
Then came bridge and here she made so many wonderful friendships over the years, especially Val and John here today.
However we cannot forget Kellys Bush when the 13 lady battlers from Hunters Hill confronted the Askin Government and with the assistance of Jack Mundey and the BLF, saved this local bushland from development by placing the worlds first green ban on the site.
Jack Mundey has remained a dear friend all these years. Today the Friends of Kellys Bush work tirelessly to maintain the area.
Because of her role as a Battler:
In 1981 she was awarded Rotary Hunters Hill Citizen of the Year, then in 1998 the HHill Council awarded her Freedom of the City.
Dad died in 1998 after 57 yrs of marriage. Monica then moved to Short St, next door to Margot and Helen. She took the Washington genes with her.
Monnie was in her eighties when she joined the Hunters Hill Bowling Club, learned to play bowls and was elected to the committee.
She celebrated her 90th birthday at this club with over 100 friends and family. That same year 2008, Monnie spoke at the Annual Jean Arnot Memorial Luncheon in Parliament House on behalf of the ladies who were in their 90’s.
Some of you will remember the champagne ginko party in the park with Fr Bates providing the musical entertainment.
In 2011 she spent a very busy year as Citizen of the Year for the Hunters Hill Council. She was also awarded the North Sydney Community award in 2011 in recognition of outstanding service to the community.
Despite a hip operation necessitating the use of a walking frame, she has continued to live independently in her beloved house and garden. Visitors were always welcome, especially whiskey drinkers. She never wished to live anywhere else.
Always she was a devoted Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother.
Sadly many of her wonderful friends and family are no longer here today, but all of you have enriched her life and for this we thank you.
Words of remembrance Kay Philip, daughter
First, a quick aside, a significant family member, Mother’s granddaughter, Nicola is absent today but is represented by the sunflowers that she brought to the hospital and tied to the end of her bed that brightened up the ward and gave mother the appropriate nickname “the sunflower lady”. Mother would say I know I’m still alive when I wake up and see sunflowers instead of daisies. They will accompany Mother when she is buried today.
Lorraine has provided a summary of her life. I shall very briefly comment on her as a mother, the word that springs to mind is irrepressible.
She was always this huge force / presence, filling up the whole room, exuding vitality, exuberance, optimism and fierce determination. There was never any rest time for her or us, even on Sundays after church, when we wanted to sit and read the paper, Mother would be at us to clean windows rake leaves, get moving etc., always her irrepressible self. It was interesting to observe as children that the phone never rang between 10am and 4pm, as everyone knew Mother was out at lunches, tennis or shopping at DJ’s.
Mother was also extremely generous. Lorraine has described her generosity in community activities. For us, often during the evening meal, there would be a knock at the door, and someone we barely knew would enter, another place at the table would immediately be set and we would all pass a bit from out plate onto his and he would be welcomed.
But I think mother’s capacity to look at the most dire situation optimistically, and put her personal spin on it was her most remarkable feature. She would have made a great politician. Her determination to enjoy and appreciate life no matter what is a great inspiration. Her last meal in hospital was 12 oysters and whisky; she refused to consider any other nutritional alternatives.
I would like to think that we all consciously adopt the aspects of mother (and others) we admire. You can be sure Mother (and the Washington genes) will live on in her remaining (and unborn) family, setting us a high benchmark for generosity, giving a helping hand, and going the extra yard to help and brighten up the lives of others, and her unshakeable determination to view every situation in the best possible light.
MAYORAL MINUTES & REPORTS Meeting 4354 – 24 February 2014
ITEM NO: 1
SUBJECT: MAYORAL MINUTES & REPORTS
CSP THEME: OUR COUNCIL
DELIVERY PLAN STRATEGY: COUNCILLORS ARE WELL-INFORMED ABOUT ISSUES/PROJECTS
REPORTING OFFICER: RICHARD QUINN
With great sadness, I advise that Ms Monica Mary Sheehan, dear wife of Abe (deceased), loving mother and mother-in-law of Lorraine and Colin, Kay, Timothy and Christine, Grandmother of Peter, Nicola and Richard and Great Grandmother of Ashley and Leah, passed away peacefully at Katoomba Hospital on 12 February 2014 aged 95 years.
Monica was Hunters Hill Citizen of the Year 2011. Moving to Hunters Hill in 1958, she achieved in many areas, not least of which was the Battle for Kelly’s Bush. She was so excited to have been given the honour as Citizen of the Year during the Municipality of Hunters Hill’s Sesquicentenary year, and she proved to be a great advocate during that time.
Monica was involved in many groups and organisations in the community, becoming the first female Secretary of the Hunters Hill Lawn Tennis Club, NSW President of the public speaking group The Penguin Club; a member of Rostrum, WAP (Women Active Politically), the Historical Society, Hunters Hill Trust, Dramatic Society and the Bridge and Bowling Clubs.
Monica was a forceful member and former President of the Battlers for Kelly’s Bush, a battle to retain bushland from development and the result of the world’s first ever “Green Ban”
The Battlers were awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Municipality of Hunters Hill on 14 October 1996 at a special presentation held in their honour.
Monica and the Battlers fight to save Kelly’s Bush from development, had international repercussions and together they wrote more than a page of Australian and international history.
Throughout her life, Monica was a passionate and enthusiastic battler for her community of Hunters Hill, leaving a wonderful legacy for future generations.
That the sincere condolences of Council and staff be conveyed to the family of Ms Monica Sheehan.