My aunt died on the 4th October 2013. Here are a collection of stories about her life, sent from various relatives and friends.
ALLEN REESE (EULOGY) See attached this lengthy and delightful story from Allen Reese, the oldest of the ‘Allen’ cousins, who spent a great deal of his childhood under the care of our Aunt Rae. Allen_Eulogy_AuntyRae
GEORGE & ZOE WARING Sth Australia
Thank you so much for contacting us- we are so sorry to hear of dear Rae’s death- she was unique wasn’t she?
We have kept in touch ever since the mid 1940’s when she and her lovely calm friend Cath McKay took their service discharge in Adelaide and made it their home for several years. This is because brother Bill, “Mick”, and his charge Pat Murphy-young and a bit feckless but irrepressible- were billeted with us when the Army was brought back from the Middle East to defend Australia from the Japanese. We loved having them here and so that was why the girls decided to come here. They stayed with us then got a flat, but this house was always home base in case of sickness and health- and so we have always kept in touch.
Rae and I shared the same birthdays 24/5. I am now 86. We have all paid visits to Rae over the years, and Rae has been here too. It was so good to hear from you. She will be missed.
ANITA O’DONNELL Florida, USA
Your aunt was a special lady. My husband and I were in Cairns in 1988. I attended the Baptist church the first Sunday of our stay that was about a month. After the service, your aunt invited me to her home for a friendly lunch, so I took her up on it. We were both very interest in Bible prophecy, therefore, we had much to chat about. She also gave me a lot of interesting general information about Cairns, since it was our first visit I really appreciated that. Ever since then, we have been good friends, as much as distance permitted. When we returned to Florida, we kept up our acquaintance via Christmas cards. I always looked forward to them with all her news of the world. She even sent me a cassette of Australian songs. She loved people and was kind to everyone, I certainly missed the contact I had with her when her cards stopped coming. So, it was certainly nice to hear from you and to know of your dedication to her and to her memory. She was a special lady and I’m sure all who knew her agree that she deserves to be remembered.
Thank you for sending me your letter. It was very good to hear from you and to know of your plans to honor your Aunty Rae. I will always honor her in my heart.
JOY SIDDANS Dalby, Qld
I met Rae sometime in the ‘80s when my husband and I were in Cairns for some weeks, helping to build the Manse.I visited her some years later in her home. I always enjoyed her Christmas mail with the news of her many nieces and nephews etc. I am almost 91 so we are similar in age. We will meet again in our heavenly home. I trust the memorial service was a time of thanksgiving for a life well lived.
EVELYN LEWIS Crescent Heads NSW
I have known Rae for 64 years and always kept in touch by sending a Christmas Card every year. Rae always sent a newsletter with her card. I would call in on her at her house whenever I was visiting Cairns. I met Rae when I started working for Armstrong Ledlie and Stillman. I was 13 years old and Rae was my boss. I left when I was 18 and joined the Airforce. I have since lived in NSW.
R & E MULLER Proserpine, Qld
Aunty Rae came down with a lovely niece to our daughter’s wedding to Stan Larkin (1986). I caught up with her in 1997 as we left our car with her when we went overseas. I found her very gracious and wise and, of course, we corresponded every Christmas since 1986. My sister in law is in Gordonvale and told me Rae went to the church, there, while she was in the retirement village (Pyramid). You were very fortunate to have an Auntie like her, she lived a very busy and interesting life.
GLORIA MELVIN Cairns
I worked with Rae for many years until A.L. & S. was bought out by Waltons, who I continued to work with. I am not a person who made a point of visiting others but always called in to see Rae for her birthday. She was so proud of her nieces and nephews.
MYRTLE AND ALAN DICKFOS Highfields, Qld
She was an amazing lady. She always talked about the family on the Tableland and her “Japanese Children”. She was so hospitable and kind. Bess Roberts and Rae and I used to do hospital visits on Friday night, and Alan drove us there. As I am writing this, I am shedding tears, remembering Rae and the privilege it was to know her and be part of her life. She loved her Lord and is now rejoicing in His Presence. When we were in Cairns, years ago, we went to the base hospital to see her. She was sitting at a desk doing voluntary work.
Alan has cancer and has been in and out of hospital several times and now mostly bed-ridden, unable to walk. He will be 91 in December. I know Aunty Rae’s birthday is 24th May, the same day as my mother.
We extend our deepest sympathy to the family. Thanks you for sending the letter. What a lovley looking young woman she was (reference to the photo in the letter informing of her passing). Our loss is heaven’s gain.
JONNET PRICE Gwynedd, Wales
I met Rae in Cairns in 1971 when I came to visit my Uncle Aweurin and he introduced me. I met her again when she visited Mum and I at Bontwewy DD, Caerwarfon in 2000 – 2001?, on her round world trip. She was so full of life. A very unique person and her Christmas letters were so interesting and fascinating.
KEVIN HANSEN Rockhampton Phone call:
I received your letter about Rae’s passing. I worked as a printer at Cairns Post and I married Jean who worked at AL&S. We moved to Rockhampton but Jean had a good friend, Dawn Parker, in Cairns, and whenever we came back to Cairns, we would visit Rae. Jean, herself, passed away 13 years ago.
FRANCES MCQUAKER Shropshire, UK
As we grow older, each year sees more empty chairs at family gatherings, and I know the Allen family too will have a few absent members, some I met through knowing Rae. Rae came into my life in 1979. Whenever I visited Nth Queensland I had the pleasure of staying a few days with Rae who spared time from her busy and useful life by not only giving hospitality but acted as guide. It was a privilege to have known Rae, and I know how her last few years could not have been the easiest – she is at peace now. I am 95. We can’t stop the clock.
LARRY COLE Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
I just wanted to let you know that your letter to Dina Cole in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada was received. Dina Cole, my mother, passed away this past April. My father has advanced Alzheimers, thus we will not be able to pass on any stories about your aunt. I live in the USA and am looking after her affairs. (Thus the delay in my getting your letter.) I trust all went well at her memorial service and pass on my condolences at her passing.
MELINDA R TAJINGWA Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA
Thank you for the notice of Rae’s passing. It is hard for me to write because I cannot stop crying. She was an extraordinary woman who I thought would live forever because people as kind as she was deserve to live forever. She befriended me when I was traveling in Australia 27 years ago. We kept in touch for almost the majority of that time. I was in Cairns Base Hospital with blood poisoning 27 years ago and she visited me and took me into her home for several days and took care of me, a complete stranger traveling by herself. She asked nothing in return. She fed me, took care of me, took me to her doctor’s, and was my friend for all these years. She was a great lady with a no nonsense approach to life but the kindest person I have ever known. I had contracted blood poisoning on a rafting trip, cellulitis I think they called it. I think Rae saved my life. They discharged me way too soon but Rae took me into her home. A few days later a staph infection set in from the hospital and since I was not getting any better and, in fact, worsening, she took me to her doctor to get on antibiotics for the staph infection. I think I would have died, I could not walk and was in a lot of pain. I could not walk for several days and she helped with all my needs in her home. She was a lovely, lovely human being and the world is definitely a little less kinder place with her not here.
Hiro Seki Saitama, Japan
Thank you for a letter. It was that I received the letter on October 12. Rae’s passing was a spiritual trying experience, but I know she goes to heaven, so I am relieved.
I had stayed with Rae for [of 1998] one year. She is my Australian Mother. She had also said me as the Japanese daughter. That time, she was 75 years old and I was 25years old. She taught me the life of Australians and the Christian life. Every morning, she fed little birds, planted water in the yard, prayed for happiness of her family and friends, read a bible. Well, breakfast is bread and avocado paste, fruit, and a cup of coffee.
Her last traveling abroad was Japan. It is for my wedding ceremony. She was 80 years old then. After ceremony, I and she went to see autumnal leaves, and went to Disney Sea. And she went to meet her friends who lived in Japan. It was very wonderful time.
Well, while I was sad and was crying, she said, “A tear makes the heart relax.” She taught me the important thing in life. I am thankful to her from the bottom of my heart. She was kind, wise, occasionally strict, and beneficent. I continue to love her.
MEGUMI SUGIHARA Chiba-shi, Japan
I was very sorry to hear that Miss Rae Allen passed away on October 2013 aged 91years. I had the privilege of knowing her for the past decades. Please know that I share your sorrow at this sad time.
I am not sure you know about me, but I met her at Baptist church in Cairns about 19 years ago. I went to work and stayed at office in Cairns for a couple months from Tokyo. Unfortunately I didn’t have any friend there. I was afraid to be alone every weekend, so
I found the church might be safe and there was the one very closed to my apartment. Then I met her. I know I am her first Japanese friend. Since then we have been good friends each other. She taught me many things. And also sometime we had small arguments for very silly things such as we should clean up a percolator before using or what, maybe we were same stubborn type?! After I left Cairns, she wrote to me, and I also came to Cairns sometime. She also came to Japan twice, and stayed at our place.
However I am so sorry to hesitate to keep in touch with her since 2009. It was last time I met her when just couple weeks before she had left her place. I thought she was very proud of herself so I shouldn’t come to see her. I am not sure it’s right or not. Anyway she is always in my mind and tells me many things.
I know she loves flowers. So I would like to offer you about this donation. You might still remember we had huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. About 18,000 people’s lives lost. Then one of group is trying to plant cherry blossoms there with victims’ names and donor’s name for each baby trees. So I will donate with Rae’s name, because she loved cherry blossoms. Actually it is very difficult to find a place to plant because of confusing how to make city planning out there. So it might have still taken for a while to do that. But if they could start to do that, Rae might be glad for this, too. What do you think‘? If l will be able to do that, I will let you know what is going on later. I hope it is OK.
And also you might know about this, Rae had some her Japanese kids who were working holiday students from Japan. She accepted them her place. One of them is a mother of twins! She must get contact with you, her name is Hiroe SEKI. She will bring her kids to the place where their Australian grandmother sleeps. I think this is the real intemational relationship between ordinary people, not for by strategies of government or global companies. I hope Rae is also pleased with this.
Finally I would like to extend my deepest sympathy, my husband, Koh as well.
MARGARET FANNING (NEE TYSON)
I will always remember Auntie Rae when she used to stay with her whilst she had her teeth attended to. Auntie Rae introduced me to reading the Mills and Boon series which I still read. Morrie, Margaret, Deran (their daughter) and Mark appreciated Auntie Rae attending Deran’s wedding especially when she read a reading at the ceremony.
JILL SORENSON (NEE TYSON)
I always felt that Auntie Rae was the matriarch of the Allen and extended families. She was proud to be named Great, Great, Great Aunt Rae. A true Christian who was always there for numerous people. I have a framed photo of her in her air force uniform – she really did not change over the years only like all of us just got older.
Thank you so much for contacting us- we are so sorry to hear of dear Rae’s death- she was unique wasn’t she.
Most of my memories are about her flat on The Esplanade and Ginger Beer Spiders, was just Ginger Beer and ice cream, but at Aunty Rae’s it seemed to have some magic involved.
MICHAEL ALLEN Adelaide, Australia
Some of my favorite memories involve Aunty Rae. Carrying me out to the car as a small sleepy child, the Boxing Day open house she used to hold on the Esplanade in Cairns where family from all over would visit, Sunday visits while at boarding school always had a supply of ginger beer, jelly babies and banana fritters.
Last but not least I think this quote sums up the open door and heart she always had.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
― “quote on the Statue of Liberty”
ROBYN BOUBIS (NEE LARKIN) Melbourne, Australia
I personally remember Aunty Rae as always “just being there” as part of our childhood – the lovely flat on the Esplanade I remember probably better than the house at Aeroglen which she built later on. I remember on our occasional visits to Cairns we were always served our choice of soft drink with ice cream in it – called a “spider” – to kids who got soft drink at Christmas only, this was a real treat. Once I attained a driver licence I was able to visit her often and spend weekends with her – during this period I came to know her much better, love her much better and appreciate her greatly. I always admired her intelligence and her wisdom. She was one of the most hospitable and kind people you could ever meet and all nieces and nephews will remember her kindness, not only to us, but to all our friends and anyone who passed through her door. She led a very full life and her love was absolutely unconditional always – her sense of family was very strong – something else to be very much admired and respected. We have all been very fortunate to have a person such as this as probably a larger part of our lives than we consciously realised along our own life journey. This is a day not only to feel sad about the loss we all feel, but also to celebrate her life as I’m certain she would like us to do.
Yvonne Rudd (nee Allen)
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Aunty Rae is the colour purple. I used to love her purple bedroom. Aunty Rae always dressed so beautifully, everything matched and she had all these big clip on earrings and rings. I also remember watching her dress for a night out once when I was little and told her she was very, very beautiful. She often wore big wide belts too.
The flat on the esplanade, the amazing garden she grew on the balcony, her ability to fill such a small area with so much furniture and ‘stuff’ and of course, the bottles. I think most family and acquaintances would have stayed at her place and to sleep on the pull out sofa was an adventure for me (especially when Maureen was sharing!). I think she was the first person I knew to have a bean bag and don’t forget the lava lamp.
Christmas parties, the huge pile of presents, how she collected things throughout the whole year to make sure everyone had a present, even for people who just happened to drop in. It was certainly a great occasion for family to catch up. If Maureen and I were staying, we’d get to stuff the curried eggs, I thought curried eggs were so exotic. Can’t pass Christmas without an Aunty Rae Christmas letter. Cam couldn’t believe it when he first read one but then funnily enough, he actually looked forward to them every year, he liked the summary of world news whereas I just usually read the family section.
Of course, you always dropped in to see Aunty Rae if you were in Cairns. I remember spider drinks, such a treat for us because we got to not only have soft drink but it had ice cream in it, two treats we usually only had at Christmas. Then there were the jars of lollies I drooled over and we often got to have a couple of those too.
Maureen and I would have stayed at Aunty Rae’s fairly often, usually with the Great Aunts in residence as well. Of course, if you were there on a Sunday, there was the trip to church and quite often that was in the old Wolsey. We thought we were so hot riding in that car.
Most of our photos from earlier years were because of Aunty Rae, no one else seemed to own a camera. I know when Maureen was making up a book for my 21st (which I still have) she sourced the photos from Aunty Rae. I guess she was the family photographer which was handy as she was at nearly every family event, there’s probably very few family weddings that don’t include Aunty Rae.
I still have the little silver windmill brooch with ceramic clogs attached that she brought home from her world trip, amazing that, like Christmas, there was gifts for everyone. She always thought of everyone which was evident in her open house policy, her generosity, her christianity and family orientation, she was the glue that kept the family in touch and informed. She may not have had children but she had the biggest family of anyone.
I guess our family in particular, owe a lot to Aunty Rae. During the last few years of Dad’s life he would sometimes start talking about his life like he’d never done when we were younger. One night he was telling me about how hard it was for him after the war and basically how depressed he had become, he was drinking a lot and was at a very low point, he even said he had thoughts of ending it all. Then someone came along and saved his life. He met his sister (Aunty Rae) for lunch, at the time she was working at AL&S in Atherton, and she brought a colleague with her. Dad said he found a reason to live – that colleague was our mother. I know that sounds rather soppy and people may not believe Dad could be capable of that sort of feeling, he always came across as being so strong and ruled by his head but there you go. So for that I will be eternally grateful to Aunty Rae for taking Mum to lunch that day.
TIM, Mihoko and Kei LARKIN Japan
I visited the Tablelands with my wife in November 2008 so my mother could meet my wife, Mihoko.
Our plane was scheduled to depart Cairns early one morning so we asked Auntie Rae if it would be possible to combine spending a day with her with also staying overnight in her house in Aeroglen to make getting to the airport simpler. Of course, Auntie Rae was more than happy with this plan. I’d like to say here that this simple act goes to the heart of Auntie Rae’s character in my mind. Most relatives would be happy to do as Auntie Rae did for us, but in her life Auntie Rae did much more than that. She opened her home to people outside her family too, to boarders and traveling friends and so on. And she did so seemingly at all times of the day and year, without even a thought that it was an imposition to her . Far from it, she welcomed it, and that is because she was an incredibly giving person. I will always remember most conversations with Auntie Rae including some discussion of her work volunteering at the hospital or doing something for her church. ALWAYS giving giving giving. A remarkable attribute in today’s world so often dominated by a take take take mentality. And, as an aside, but an important one for kids, when I was a kid I always loved going there because she ALWAYS had sweets to give us! I especially liked the caramel ones!
On that day we spent with Auntie Rae she invited us to go on her evening walk. Now, I had some idea of what this would entail, as I knew Auntie Rae from my childhood. But bear in mind this was the first time my wife, Mihoko, had met Auntie Rae. Now Mihoko was aware that Auntie Rae was in her 80’s, and had already remarked quite a few times how lively she seemed for her age. Then began the walk, with Auntie Rae setting off at the pace of a teenager in a hurry and Mihoko initially struggling to keep up. She did catch up and remarked a few times words to the effect ”Rae, you are amazing”. Auntie Rae’s response was, in a very matter of fact tone, “Oh, I walk every day dear”, as if all 85 year olds did so. The walk was shorter than a “usual” walk as we had made a restaurant reservation, spent too long talking (Auntie Rae was good at that too), and Mihoko was getting tired. Seemingly sensing Mihoko’s tiredness, Auntie Rae, in her giving way, suggested returning home to get ready for dinner. Yet again – giving.
Auntie Rae will, as I have outlined above, live in my memory as an extremely active and giving person. May she now rest in peace with the God she so devotedly worshipped.
Aunty Rae’s house was always our first stop on our trips up to far north Queensland. Her house full of collectables was fascinating for children. My favourites were all the bottles and the bobble-head figurines. I liked to peak in her bedroom, all done up in purple. I also remember staying in her spare room where she kept all her romance novels (and pretending not to read them!). I remember watching her brush her hair at night and being amazed at how long it was. Aunty Rae always remembered all our Birthdays and she knew each of us individually. She was a special member of our family and we will miss her. Goodbye Aunty Rae, Love Amy and family(deBruyn)
OWEN ALLEN (Eulogy)
Three qualities I most remember Aunty Rae.
From my earliest memories the first quality I remember her for is the joy and wonder and time she had with children. She was an excellent story reader and it might surprise some here to know that Aunt Rae probably told me my first HORROR story, the tale of “Who’s that knocking on My Door”.
The second quality was her great assertiveness in life. Aunty Rae was the only person I knew as a child who would return a meal in a restaurant. She expected that people meet a standard of honesty, service, and respect and kept them to that. This flowed through every aspect of her life. It was at the core of what she considered her greatest acknowledgement, being paid well above male salary for her accounting job with AL&S, long before equal pay gained political traction. And she was granted that salary because of the precise work and leadership in accountability that she brought to the firm.
The third quality was her service. Aunty Rae was devoted to the Christian message, to this Baptist Church, visiting the ill and aged especially in retirement through the Cairns base Hospital foundation and monthly visits to nursing homes. She was constantly contributing to the lives of people who passed through her life. In a Cairns Post interview with Alan Hudson several years ago she intimated how “‘kids’ (young workers) used to come to my place at night and I helped sort out their problems.” Even several international people stayed for a term in her house, and she went on to visit these in her retirement. Many of these I have recently sent a letter from a large box of Christmas Cards she received the last two years.
And I would invite you to consider, in remembrance of Aunty Rae, that memories of her best qualities and contributions, find a home in your own conversations and responses to life.