Irma Neill

Irma lived life whole-heartedly. She jumped in to all her pursuits with both feet and made an impression on all she met. At school, at teaching, at singing and at bridge Irma found genuine friends.

Irma had too light-hearted an approach to life to see herself as a serious student but a disparaging remark from a brother caused her to apply herself enough to become Dux of her school. Her determination became a fixture in her personality and presented itself on many occasions.

Irma worked in a business machines company owned by the Henrys. They sold an up-to-date accounting-machine and were surprised when one customer said it was making mistakes. However, this customer also said that if the company could show it was not the fault of the machine that would be fine and moreover that he would buy another machine. Irma was asked to look into this and told if she satisfied the customer they would take her out to dinner. Irma waded through reams of papers and hundreds and hundreds of figures and then: “Aha. I have seen this before!” She’d found several double entries! I am sure that dinner was very enjoyable!

There was tale after tale of Irma’s experiences in England and Europe. There was a time when she found herself translating between a North-country-man and a West-country-man, both speaking their own dialect of the Mother tongue. They couldn’t understand each other but both understood her.

Irma had singing lessons from an Emeritus Professor of Music, who had come out of retirement to teach her. She was only the second singer he had come across who could sing in quartertones, a talent her brother had somewhat disparagingly described as ‘singing between the cracks’.

After a very late night Irma slept in on a cross-channel ferry trip and when she woke mid-morning she went to the dining room. This was empty as the seas were rough and nearly everyone was seasick. The waiter came to take her order but when she ordered a pork chop he paled visibly and asked her to reconsider.

Irma was a great communicator and taught at TAFE colleges in both Toowoomba and West End. At the latter she taught Z Grade. This may not be as bad as it sounds, but nevertheless, it was a surprise when this class topped maths. I only found out recently that Irma did not actually teach them maths. The teacher asked Irma how they came top and she asked whether they had left early. She was told not and she asked if they had gone over their work. They had. Such a simple thing, but Irma always focused on the important details. These students were in need of help. They were looking for jobs and spelling and punctuation that had been treated laxly now became critical. I think that if anyone could have helped them it would have been Irma.

Irma took a careful interest in the Council’s plans for South Brisbane and when they proposed a hotel at the bottom of Russell St. She cast a watchful eye over their plans and pointed out that the main water pipes were on the proposed site. They moved the hotel downriver. There was also a traffic plan that had entrances but no exit, which Irma immediately noted and she had no hesitation in letting them know!

Irma was as firm as a rock and completely reliable and trustworthy. I shall always remember her for her dear and loyal group of friends. She was a friendly person, always surrounded by people of all ages. She was fiercely loyal and protective and her friendships were the sort to last a lifetime.