COMMUNITY MINDED: Joan presenting Holly Weston with a CWA scholarship.
COMMUNITY MINDED: Joan presenting Holly Weston with a CWA scholarship. DOUG EATON

‘Mrs Woodburn’ remembered

THE Woodburn community turned out in force last week to farewell one of the town's greatest supporters, Joan Roots OAM.

The Parkview Funeral Home at Goonellabah was filled to overflowing with family and friends, flowers and tears.

The colour purple was everywhere - a testament to Joan and her love of that shade.

Born in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1925, the daughter of a banker, she grew up in many places, as her father travelled with his job. 

COLOUR PURPLE: Joan with the orchid named in her honour by the Woodburn Orchid Society.
COLOUR PURPLE: Joan with the orchid named in her honour by the Woodburn Orchid Society.

She boarded at Pymble Ladies College and graduated with aspirations of becoming a florist.

But World War Two got in the way and her skills in account keeping and typing were more useful to society.

She started with the Bank of NSW at Grafton before being transferred to Murwillumbah and then Woodburn, where she met a handsome beekeeper named George Roots, who had just returned from war with the Air Force.

The pair was married in 1945 and raised three children, Richard, David and Wendy.

During this time Joan became especially community-minded and she went on to carve a name for herself with the school P&C, the mothers' club, the CWA, the Woodburn Hall Committee, the Mid-Richmond Residents' Village, the Coraki Campbell Hospital, the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal and more.

Of course she was fond of flowers, and her time spent helping out the Woodburn Orchid Society resulted in a new variety being named in her honour.

The colour? Purple, of course.

Joan was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her community work in 2000.

She loved her cooking, and many recalled the ready supply of pumpkin scones.

But she was an adventurer at heart, and some of her greatest moments came on the water.

Inspired by local policeman Bill Grenfel, Joan, along with a troupe of other Mid-Richmond identities, took to water skis with a passion that is still recalled. But Joan will always be best remembered for her role at the head of the table with whatever community group she was barracking for at the time.

"She always held a meeting in the palm of her hand, with that quiet voice that belied her true intentions," recalled CWA group vice-president Yvonne Scarrabelotti.

IN HER ELEMENT: Joan waterskiing with Bill Grenfel.
IN HER ELEMENT: Joan waterskiing with Bill Grenfel.

According to Woodburn resident Merv Morgan, Joan was best known for her ability to fight for the best interests of Woodburn and to take that demand to the highest office in the land.

"Joan never left anything unturned to get many things done around town," he recalled.

"She had that incredible ability to hold onto the end of the string until you gave in."



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