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Obituary: Glenda Harch 1953-2019

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Glenda Harch

May 17, 2019

by Murray and Georgina Harch, Frenchville

Long-time South Burnett resident Glenda Harch (nee Stickley) passed away on April 24 at the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital.

Glenda was a well-respected member of the community, reflected by the large number attending her funeral in Gympie on May 3.

She was born in Rockhampton on New Year’s Day, 1953 and raised there by her parents, the late Evelyn and Noel Stickley, with her six other siblings.

The family enjoyed a simple and happy home-based life with road trips crammed in the back seat of the old Fargo and Plymouth to visit relatives in Tenterfield, or weekends down at the beach.

Glenda attended Frenchville State School and North Rockhampton High, then won a scholarship to Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College in Brisbane for her two-year certificate.

She was the only person in her family to attend university, and was a born teacher who aspired to no other career.

After attaining her Certificate in Teaching, majoring in English, French and History, Glenda’s first teaching position was in 1972 in Longreach – where she was required to teach Year 12 Economics, a subject she had never studied.

So true to form, this 19-year-old graduate studied every night to be ready for each day’s lesson.

It was a pattern set for the rest of her life: if Glenda wanted to do something, she never let lack of knowledge or experience stop her. She simply taught herself, did her best to succeed and enjoy her new skill, whether it was for work, rest or play.

Following her second teaching stint in Mt Morgan, where she and long-time friend Kay Head used to carpool up the winding range in her little Mini Minor, Glenda moved to Bundaberg – perhaps the most successful teaching post of her entire career.

It was there that her flatmate Margaret Warren, already partnered by boyfriend Robert, asked her good mate Don Nissen to help find a date for Glenda for the annual Wondai Show Ball.

Glenda met Darryl Harch on a blind date in 1973, and it was love at first sight.

A whirlwind four-month courtship of country dances, country drives, beach days and shared weekends followed, undeterred by geography and the two-hour drive separating them.

Glenda and Darryl became engaged at her 21st birthday party in January 1974, and married on August 10, 1974, attended by Don Nissen and Wayne, Robyn and Michele Stickley.

Darryl’s brother Lester was meant to stand by his side, but a pilot’s strike saw him grounded at the last minute and unable to even attend the wedding at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Rockhampton.

Glenda and Darryl’s love never wavered in the 44-and-a-half years they had together, despite the unfathomable struggles both faced in recent years.

After a two-week honeymoon in Far North Queensland, the happy couple drove south through flood waters to set up home on the family farm in Tansey.

In between farm life and teaching, Glenda completed her Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in German, by correspondence.

The couple enjoyed an active social life, playing indoor bowls and social tennis on Friday nights and attended many social events with the Young Nationals.

Darryl and Glenda welcomed the “lights of their lives”, son Murray David in 1978, daughter Helen Kaye in 1980 and Rachel May in 1983. The family moved from the Tansey farm into the ‘big smoke’ of Goomeri in 1987, where Glenda eventually progressed from teacher to principal at the local P-10 Goomeri State School.

Glenda and Darryl threw themselves into supporting their children, making sure the three had every opportunity to succeed whatever their interests and passions, whether in school, sport or cultural pursuits.

Glenda was the driver and coach, umpire and scorer, president, secretary and more at the local netball, cricket and swimming club.

She was also an Elvis fanatic who kept detailed scrap books of the superstar when she was young, and encouraged a love of music in her children – having dabbled in piano as a child and later taught herself to play the organ.

Murray is now a teacher and school sports officer, Helen a communications professional and Rachel, a theatre nurse.

While the kids were growing up, the Harch family enjoyed weekend trips to the Sunshine Coast to see grandparents; long car rides to Rockhampton to see Nana, aunties, uncles and cousins; New Year’s Day trips to Rainbow Beach with the Dascombe family to celebrate Glenda’s birthday; and many a swimming, netball or cricket carnival.

Education was an enduring passion of Glenda’s – for her children, her many students and herself – and she would do her best to encourage and teach anyone who wanted to learn.

When Queensland schools introduced second languages – and knowing what a pivotal trade partner Japan was becoming for Australia at the time – she voluntarily studied to become a Japanese teacher.

She also led the first Goomeri State School trip to Japan in 1992, instigated a student exchange program between Japan and Goomeri, and then sponsored a Japanese teacher, Kazumi Ichikawa, to join her school.

Glenda completed at least three trips to Japan, one with the school and another at the invitation of Education Queensland. This was the fourth language she mastered, and a pursuit which cemented her love of travel, at first overseas and later in their motorhome throughout Australia.

Along with school and sports clubs, Glenda and Darryl were two of the founding members of the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival – 20 years on, now an iconic event on the Queensland Tourism calendar.

The last weekend in May would see Glenda and Darryl’s house and backyard fill to overflowing with family members packing cakes and biscuits, completing paper work, preparing to staff stalls, enter competitions and doing whatever else was needed to be done or just have some fun … and the slow cooker was always on the kitchen bench, the wafting smells promising a delicious dinner reward after a hard day’s work.

This selfless dedication to her small, local community earned Glenda awards and much respect in the community.

As well as her considerable love and talent for baking and cooking, Glenda’s various creative outlets included paper craft quilling, folk art, tracing her family tree, knitting and crochet and sewing.

These latter skills were put to great use once her precious grandchildren came along.

First Murray’s wife Georgina was welcomed to the family in 2003, then Rachel’s husband George in 2012 and Helen’s husband Will in 2014.

Family was Glenda’s life but never more so then when the grandchildren started arriving – first Jonty and Lewis, then Milo and Asher, Violet, Koda and, last but not least, beautiful baby Blake.

Glenda knitted them blankets and beanies, tiaras and booties and cardigans; sang them songs and read them books; taught them card games, board games and how to do crosswords.

She cooked ‘yellow sausages’ and ensured there was always jelly in the fridge, and their favourite foods in the cupboards, ready for their visits.

She also spent hours with them on Skype and the phone, especially once she could no longer physically travel to be with them or share their achievements.

Glenda was a strong, brave woman who fought hard to be part of her family’s lives as long as possible, and loved Darryl, Murray, Helen, Rachel and her seven grandchildren with all her heart.

Glenda’s lasting impact on her family and community will always be remembered.


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