Big volunteer shoes to fill
COMMUNITY leader and extraordinary volunteer worker Dorothea Sawatzki left a mighty big hole in the social fabric of the Mid-Richmond last week with her sudden passing.
Mrs Sawatzki had been admitted to hospital with a recurrent bout of pneumonia, but told friends she was coming home early last week.
“She was bright and bubbly as usual,” recalled Joan Smedley, who worked with Mrs Sawatzki on the committee of the Mid-Richmond River Lions Club.
“We were relieved to hear she was coming home.”
However, her health took a terrible turn for the worse and she died last Thursday, aged 73. Her husband Tony only passed away in August, and his loss as a volunteer was just as sharp.
The pair were a dynamic duo when it came to volunteer work and were always available to lend a hand.
When Mr Sawatzki joined the local Lions in 1977 women weren’t part of the club, so Mrs Sawatzki made it her business to become his secretary. She remained in that role until women were admitted to Lions in 1996, and since then filled every committee position in the book.
“Without her I would have been lost as president of Lions,” Mrs Smedley said. “Nothing was a trouble for her. You only had to ask and she was always there for you.”
In 1995, Mrs Sawatzki and her husband were among a handful who started the valuable driver-reviver service at New Italy, at the entrance and exit to one of the worst black spots on the Pacific Highway – Tabbimoble.
“She was one fantastic lady,” said David Parkinson, of Evans Head, a founding member of the driver-reviver service. “People just don’t understand how much she was involved in community affairs and for just how long.”
Her grandmother was Maria Battistuzzi, a member on the Marquis de Ray expedition and a founding member of the New Italy settlement.
Born Dorothea Felicetti, Mrs Sawatzki was always interested in the Italian history of the area and was activelyinvolved in the New Italy Museum.
Her second cousin, Jean Lollback, said the amount of community work she did had to be seen to be believed.
“She’s going to be nearly indispensable,” Mrs Lollback said. “She did extra bits of work all the time. She was busy all the time. She didn’t stop to get her breath.”
Along with her husband, Mrs Sawatzki was also active in the St Joseph’s Parish of the Catholic Church, and was a valued member of the Woodburn Hall committee. “She was always there if something needed to be done,” hall committee member Rose Garner, of Woodburn, said.