Dora Dunbar

Dora Dunbar

Dora Annie Dunbar

26/1/1919 – 11/3/2013


Eulogy given by Renato Moolhuyzen at the Funeral Service in St John’s Anglican Church, Camden on Monday 18th March 2013


Good Morning Everyone

It is my absolute privilege to stand here before you today to speak about the life of Dora Annie Dunbar who passed away last Monday night. Normally amongst the good things one would usually say while standing here, would be a few blights on a person’s character. BUT this is about Dora Dunbar and I couldn’t come up with anything bad to say and I doubt any of you could. Dora Dunbar was one of, if not the finest woman any of us could ever have known.

My name is Renato and I am Dora’s No 1 grandson-in-law. Self appointed of course. This was a running joke I had with Dora for many years and one which she turned on me a couple of years ago. I rang Dora to thank her for making me a cake and I started the phone call by saying “Hello Grandma, this is your No 1 grandson-in-law” and without missing a beat, she replied “Hello Andrew” calling me by the name of one of my competitors. It’s not often that you get put on the back foot by someone in the 90s but she did it that time and a number of other times over the years.

Her wit and intelligence remained with her until the end. I have known Dora for 23 years and I assume there would be people here today that have known her for 60, 70, maybe even 80 years, and I am sure you would all agree that Dora’s depth of knowledge regarding many things was exceptional especially if you wanted to know anything about gardening, cooking or the history of the Camden area. Dora was our human version of “Google” on many topics.

Trying to sum up 94 years of life is very difficult but by looking around the church today, I can see the legacy that Dora has left through the many family and friends in attendance. I remember standing behind Dora and her husband Colin at his 90th birthday celebrations several years ago. The whole family was there and Col remarked to Dora while observing everyone around them – “We made this you know”. Dora looked at him and replied “Yes we did”. They were very proud of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and this would be their greatest legacy – good people with strong family values.

Dora Annie Angilley was born at Trelawn  Farm in WeomBYE (Werombi) on Australia Day 1919. She was the daughter of William and Mary Angilley and was a sister to Grace, Lily, Bill, Percy, Claude, Keith, Hetty, Harold and Verlie. Dora was actually delivered by her grandmothers, Grace Anglilley, who was a trained midwife.

Dora was born and grew up in some of the hardest times Australia has known. The Great Depression made life difficult for everyone but luckily the family lived on a farm and were able to produce a lot of their own food. As well as going to school, all the children helped with the farm work and household chores. Dora’s main job was to help her mother as by 1933, the year Dora left school at the age of 14, the family had increased to 9. There is no way today’s children would have survived during Dora’s era.

It was during 1939 that Dora met a young Colin Dunbar and they were married in this very church in December 1940. For the next 8 years they lived in the Vurragorang Valley and in Bellingen and during these years they welcomed Nolene, Bruce and Sandra to their family. Their next port of call was to come back to WeomBYE where they purchased 150 acres to grow vegetables, establish an orchard and also operate a sawmill. The work was hard but this lifestyle would sustain them until their latter years, eventually moving into their unit at the Carrington in 2001. You’re probably thinking this sounds very mundane. A young girl working hard on a farm, helped her mother, got married, raised 3 children whilst supporting her husband and then retired, but this only scratches the surface of Dora’s life and what she contributed to the lives of many people around her.

It appeared that Dora had an insatiable desire for community work. In 1988 Dora became a charter member of Inner Wheel and took several office bearing roles during its establishment. In her latter years Dora took a back seat role and enjoyed the friendship and fellowship. In 1950, Dora joined the St John’s branch of the Mothers’ Union and until recently still attended its meetings – that is a period of service of over 60 years. Over the years Dora held many executive  positions such as President, Secretary and Treasurer and she used to try to retire every 3 years but no one would ever volunteer to replace her. Finally in 2007, a new President arrived and much to Dora’s relief at the age of 88, she could finally retire. Dora was also a Deanery representative for this church for many many years travelling to St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney by train on numerous occasions, often picking up other members and driving them to the train station so they too could attend the Festival Services. Dora regularly organised a car load of members to go to the Cathedral in Wollongong and also to Bowral and Moss Vale to attend their Festival days, luncheons, and deanery days. Such was the high regard Dora was held in; she was given a VIP welcome at all these events.

Colin had joined the Camden Rotary club and through this membership they both had a busy life in project work and also enjoyed social events with fellow members and their wives. Following on from their association with Rotary, Colin and Dora both became members of Probus and it was in 2009 that Dora was rewarded for her exemplary work in community service and helping those in need by being awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary, the highest award one can receive.

Now we are getting a better picture of how busy Dora made her life. She always kept her fingers active with cooking, gardening, embroidery, crochet and knitting. For decades, Dora knitted garments for the district’s new babies born at Camden Hospital. Dora even made a special effort to knit tiny little outfits, small enough to fit still born and premature babies as she believed it was very important for these little souls to having clothing to fit them.

As long as we can remember, Dora was a keen exhibitor at the Camden Show and maybe a few other competitors will finally have a chance at winning without her handiwork being entered. I’m not sure if anyone knows but Dora could have been entering and winning events at the Camden Show for 60 to 70 years. Over her lifetime, Dora produced a copious amount of crochet work and there was rarely a time when you visited her that she didn’t have a ball of cotton in her lap ready to turn it into one of her masterpieces. Two such examples are the communion cloth here behind me and the Lord’s Prayer in this frame.

Quite often Dora would drive from Werombi over to the Carrington to visit the “old” people as she would say, even though she was a senior citizen herself by that time.

Keep in mind that while Dora was doing a lot of this community work, she was still working full-time on the farm and being a wife and mother. It would have been understandable if she had reduced her community commitments but that wasn’t Dora’s style – she always wanted to help wherever she was needed.

A little known fact about Dora is that in her 94 years, she never once ate McDonalds but why would she, when she was a great cook. Who here hasn’t looked forward to one of her great cakes or tasty biscuits? (Apple Pie) All her grandchildren will remember her musical biscuit jar that played a tune when the lid was removed. It was a challenge for them to see who could remove the lid without being detected and I have it on good authority from Dora herself that none of them managed to beat the system. This ruling is now final and no correspondence will by entered into.

94 years is a long time and Dora would have seen and been a part of many changes as the world progressed. Consider a few of these as you reflect on Dora’s great life.

  • As we watched the Formula One cars zoom around in Melbourne yesterday, and NASA sending probes to Mars, Dora started life with a horse and buggy. It was a big trip for the family to dress up and go to Camden for the annual show with this mode of transport – distance we don’t bat an eyelid at nowadays.
  • While today we all crave for faster internet speed and demand better reception for our mobile phones, Dora grew up with no telephone, no television, and probably no radio.
  • In 94 years she would have been governed by 22 Prime Ministers and ruled by 4 Kings and 1 Queen.
  • If she had gone to Sydney at a young age she could have seen a harbour without a bridge – just as Captain Cook had seen it.
  • She was around when Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup and when Don Bradman was at his peak. St George football club wasn’t even formed when Dora was born.
  • Things we take for granted like electricity, town water and gas, all connected to our homes were non-existent in Dora’s early days.
  • Canberra was only 6 years old when Dora was born. It was virtually nothing.

Yes, Dora has seen a lot of change, a lot of growth some of it for the better and some of it for the worse. I imagine I could go on and on about what Dora bore witness to over 94 years but one thing never changed in all of Dora’s life – her sense of family. It was instilled in Dora at an early age when she helped her mum care for and raise her family. It was there when she married Colin and raised her own family and we can all see that Dora’s sense of family has passed down to her three children and their families. We can only hope it continues to the next generation and beyond.

A sense of what I am trying to say can be heard in this message I would like to read on Bruce’s behalf.

You picked us up when we fell. You comforted us with hugs and kisses and mended our knees and elbows. As we grew older you supported us when we faltered with a love that never wilted. The kindness and generosity that you gave to those who were in need will never be forgotten by them. The birthday cakes that you made for family were countless. Nolene, Sandra and I between us received exactly 200. You never forgot the anniversaries or birthdays of all your extended family and those who were near and dear to you. The countless prayers you said for those in need will not be forgotten. And the hole left in our hearts will be filled by the memory of the loving kindness you showed and gave to us all.

With love from Bruce