ANZAB Honorary Life Member (Melbourne)

It is and honour and a sorrow to be writing this obituary. There were so many who loved Jenny and appreciated her unique style, her wit and stoicism, her ringing abilities and her generous soul. Jennifer’s sudden death was right out of the blue.

Jen was born in England and came to Melbourne as war hit the UK.

Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne was the choice for Jenny’s education and she became ‘dux’ of the school scoring a General Exhibition. Later she graduated with an honours arts degree and soon after left on a liner for Overseas!

Jenny’s ringing achievements were many. Tower Captain at St Paul’s 1974 and 75, and 1979-81. Editor of Ringing Towers and President of ANZAB for two years and Secretary for five.

In 1989 she and Robin Turner trained the band at St Bartholomew’s Burnley. In 1990 she rang in the first quarter and later the first peal at St James’ Gardenvale. Her ringing included 80 peals and possibly thousands of quarters.

She was an important member of the band at St Pius X at Heidelberg and as it is a ground floor ring it suited her worsening hip problem. She was unofficial ringing master at St Bartholomew’s and helped with quarters wherever she could even when the hip was obviously paining her.

Jenny was a sometimes fierce conductor who got good striking results and would frequently intone “Know your before and after bells”.

Generous to a fault, she donated two bells to St David’s, Hobart. The principal bell bears the English rose and Scotch thistle honouring her mother and stepfather (and I think, a shamrock to mark her Irish blood). This bell is named Patrick for St Patrick’s breastplate and a second smaller bell followed. For some time only the one bell was known to have been donated as Jenny had not wanted to appear ostentatious.

There are many stories of Jenny, many true. She could quote poetry and declaim great wodges of Tennyson’s Come into the Garden, Maud, and so much more. She had a prodigious memory.

She loved her ginger cats, introduced to her by Robin Turner with whom she had a happy 20 or so years before he returned to England. Jenny had a collection of wols or owls possibly upwards of two thousand. She loved and collected clocks and books (she was a librarian) and the house and attic are full.

Given her taste for heraldry, pageantry and suchlike, one might have thought that Jenny might have dreamed up armorial bearings, complete with crossed fencing épées or swords (for she was a good fencer in her youth). Perhaps a heraldic shield on an azure blue ground, quartered with representations of a book, a bell, an owl and a striped cat. Less conventionally, the whole should be airily wreathed in a hazy ribbon of cigarette smoke, and buckled by a small enamelled portable ashtray.

Her legend should also read Fedelis for faithful, to her friends, family and her underlying Christian beliefs and to her passions and pastimes which seldom varied.

Nothing fickle about her – except for the growing parade of talented and good looking operatic tenors and baritones on her ‘must-hear’ list.

Faithful too, and – perhaps this is not so well-known – in her impulse to charity, to giving back to the community, for she was generous in her life and in her death.

When she returned to Victoria, she took up a librarian’s position at the Baillieu Library at the University of Melbourne and, somewhat surprisingly, she stayed there for the rest of her working days, ending as Technical Services Librarian.

Jenny had relished her retirement and after a recent successful hip op was ready to enjoy life once again. The opera and ballet, films and plays and, of course, ringing.

Jenny was liked, respected and loved.

Rest in Peace, Jenny. Life well lived.


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