Joan Roots water skiing with Bill Grenfel.
Joan Roots water skiing with Bill Grenfel. Contributed

Passion for life

THE Woodburn community came out in force yesterday to farewell one of their 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 1935, the daughter of a banker, she grew up in many places as her father travelled with his job. She boarded at Pymble Ladies College and graduated with aspirations of becoming a florist.

But the Second World War 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 in the air force.

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

During this time Joan became very 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 and more.

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

Joan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia 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 skiing with a passion that is still recalled with awe.

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," CWA group vice-president Yvonne Scarrabelotti said.



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