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As Ben said, Russell could not be here tonight, but is here with us in spirit
Her 2 daughters, Kim and Nicola, have created a little story about their beautiful mum, and it goes something like this.
Marion Violet Cooke (nee Russell) was born on 20th August 1936, in Essex, London. She was considered a war baby and her parents owned property near the seaside and this is where she spent most of her toddler years, while her father went off to the war. She had 2 brothers and 3 sisters and was child number 4. She attended private schools near Essex and went onto to study nursing,, unfortunately, when it came to executing the practical side of it, she found it all too emotional and realised nursing was not for her. She then worked in the typing pool at 20 century fox and soon became the General Managers secretary in just a short couple of years. Here, she met many a celebrity, one occasion that she spoke of, was when 20th CENTURY FOX, chose NOT to take a chance on a young fella called Elvis, as they didn't think he would make them any money from him.
Marion was taught bridge by her parents at a young age, they would play a lot, often all weekends, especially when Marion's younger brother Peter was home from school. Marion was well travelled, with her parents often going on cruises and the like.
In August 1958 she and her sister Mavis went to one of those very British holiday places (Butlins Holiday resort), where she met a rather dashing young man Philip Davies Cooke, and before he himself passed away, he reflected his kids, the story of how they met, one night they were at a dance, Philip went to ask Marion's older sister Mavis for a dance but someone got to her first, so he figured 'oh well' he might as well dance with the 'other' one, Well!! From the moment he took her in her arms and they started to dance, he said he knew she was the ONE and never looked back. He was from Wales and she from England, a big difference in those days but they communicated avidly, in September, he sent her a note that said. 'If I was to ask a particular question, and you were to say yes, what ring size would you be?' and on December 6, 1958, they wed. Marion recalled that on their wedding day, a bus of fabulous singing welsh guests stopped outside her mother's proper posh British house and sang, and caused a bit of a scene. Marrying Philip-, was Marion's FIRST of a few really big moves in her life, Marion eventually settled into Philip's family home in Wales and just 10 months later Russell was born, and her new job began, and within 3 years, she was mother to 3 kids. In 1965, the mines in Wales started to close down. Phil now a senior surveyor was offered a choice of a new job. in South Africa or Australia (Mt Isa). They chose Mount Isa and in March of 1966 - they all became 10 pound pommes. And now this was the SECOND big move in Marion's life taking 3 young children - under the age of 6, across to the other side of the world, to a completely foreign country in the middle of no-where, no family, no friends (no phones, internet or facebook either) - all alone and what an amazing woman she was to have done all that successfully and never complained, nor thought of returning back to England. We ALL still believe, that what Marion did all those years ago, was so incredibly brave, 2 of her grandchildren, Ben & Daniel both had written high school essays using her as 'the person they most admire' for all that she did for her family.
Marion was a stay at home mum (called a good old housewife, in those days), she busied herself with the kids and her favourite pastime of playing Bridge (Phil was off being busy with the Art society as he was a well known local painter). Marion became a very active member of the ladies "marie krushner club", Marion was also one of the founders of the Mount Isa Bridge Club, which became one of her passions, especially when her daughter, Kim at the age of 14, took up the game and became her partner. When the youngest child, Nicola, started high school, Marion re-entered the workforce (all under the condition from Philip, that she could go back to work as long as nothing changed at home and that dinner would still be on the table at 5. and it was) Marion initially worked for a small travel agency and then for TAA, becoming the general managers person assistant (called secretaries, in those days) and Philip of course worked for the mines as a Senior Mines Design Draftsman. Marion and Kim played at many representative competitions and soon became Queensland champions.
Working for the airlines/TAA, enabled Marion to travel and to visit her family, and constantly re-affirmed how happy they were that they had made the move to Australia.
The family spent 15 glorious years in Mount Isa. In early 1981, Philip got sick with heart failure, and they moved to Brisbane to be closer to specialists. THIRD big move for Marion. Nicola was already residing at Gatton college, Kim had also moved to Brisbane to set things up prior to their arrival. Russell stayed for a little while with the intention of joining the family later. Sadly, Philip died 13 November 1981, at the tender young age of 50 (interestingly, he passed away on a Black Friday, his birthday Was April fools.... he always liked a grand entrance and exit) , and being that this is his birthdate, it is fitting that we celebrate Marion tonight. Marion was only 45, when Philip died, and it was at this time that she decided to stay in Brisbane as TAA had transferred her down to Brisbane to be the secretary to the General Manager. After a few years Marion resigned from TAA, that had become Australian Airlines, and began a part time job looking after the administrative work for QCBC, way back when it was at Manning St. She loved this new role as Manager, had lots of funny stories and had many fond memories and made many many good friends, so many of whom are here tonight.
In 1991 Marion's life changed once again. She became a Nana and she told everyone that this is what she had been waiting for and was the best job ever. She had 5 beautiful grandchildren, all of who are here tonight and with their partners, they are Alex and her husband Dave, Michael, Benjamin and his girlfriend Shakalyla, Daniel (ME) and my girlfriend Rani and of course little Pip - Philip. Marion got a lot of joy from her family, they too received the same at least 10 times over. Her life revolved around birthdays, family holidays, Christmases, sporting events, school parades, concerts, kids shows any outing that had to do with her kids or grandkids. Amazing how she found the time to also play bridge. The grandkids all did their bit for the club too.. it was often a 'family affair' on a Sunday when they were often called upon to help caddy, setup, breakdown, or even cater for many of Marion's events at QCBC, Ana, ibis hotel. Many a new year's eve was spent helping their Nana host the QCBC night game. Some of them even did the odd stint of card dealing.
Marion loved the QCBC, loved playing bridge, loved all of her bridge friends and she devoted herself to the QCBC, and all that it was about, and when it was time to retire, she took to playing bridge on Mondays and Thursdays with the occasional Wednesday or weekend event. BUT she just couldn't give it away completely She returned as Chairman of the Board when it looked like the Council were going to resume the new home of QCBC. Thankfully, it never happened but she fought tirelessly for the good fight to ensure QCBC lost nothing. She was also the ANC Secretary for 3 ANC's, Bicentennial Expo secretary, Brisbane Zone Secretary for many years QBA Delegate for over 25 years and the QBA Board Dealer for over 20 years.
Over her time, she represented Queensland in the Senior's and Women's field and did Queensland proud each time she played. Marion had a tremendous reputation for being a patient, kind, tolerant, accepting, supportive, gracious person and a wonderful bridge player. Just some of the words that have been written about Marion of late.
Marion's health was pretty good, considering she was nearly 80, she would get the occasional twinge in her back and the odd blood pressure scare, but nothing major- OR so she would tell her kids, not that she would ever complain anyway. In June of 2015, she had a little 'passing out' episode one night whilst dining with Toni Bardon - her 'other daughter' and dear friendů but this was all to do with her heart and blood pressure apparently. At that time, she was told that she should not travel 7 hours to attend Alex's wedding - our first family wedding. well !! that was never going to happen, Marion soldiered on, made the trip, Wedding was a huge success, Marion coped quite well , came home got better and was given the all-clear in August.
At some point during last year, at one of her weekly games of bridge with her lovely friend Margaret Millar, Margaret told her of how the Millars were celebrating Jim's 80th and that was to take the whole family to Vanuatu. This got Marion thinking, and she decided that she wanted to celebrate her 80th, with her family in a similar fashion, she then proceeded to organise a fabulous cruise (thanks for the inspiration Margaret , or I should probably call you Mrs Miller, and thanks to Martine for all your help with our booking and the subsequent alterations). She made her children and grandchildren all promise, that they would still go and their promises will be kept, and they know she will be watching over them, as she promised she would.
During November 2015, everything was seeming to be going well, she even discussed the possibility of re-visiting her family once again in England in 2016 - a fantastic trip that she had already undertaken with Kim and Nicola in October 2014, and was even going to splurge and travel in Business class..
Sometime late November Marion admitted to her children that she had noticed that she was struggling to remember silly little things properly, simple words and she was having difficulty with some writing. They had this all checked .. And were told that is was nothing sinister so it seemed, all part of getting older.
On 6th December, Marion had what presented as a stroke, Marion was told that she had just a couple of weeks to live due to an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor, and that she would eventually slip into a coma, deteriorate and eventually pass away. With the knowledge and advice given, Marion's family chose to take her out of hospital and care for her in the comfort of her own home with the help of the Blue care palliative nurses. Her daughters pretty much moved into the house and took over , Marion then had 24/7 around the clock care. Forever grateful to their husbands Ray and Geoff and their kids for all the support they gave and for keeping their own families together whilst the girls were busy with their mum. They were able to give Marion, the very best attention and care a loving family could provide. ..HAVING SAID THAT .... in Marion's style SHE was not going to be told by anyone WHEN and HOW she was going to exit this world. Instead of having JUST 3 weeks, she lasted 12, and was still mobile to the end, even though she was told she would be in a vegetative state. The nurses were constantly amazed at her extraordinary ability to tolerate her medication and her desire to not be a burden on anyone.
Marion had nothing but praise, adoration, love and trust for the Blue care nurses that helped her and her family during her last 3 months. There were lots of good moments created to add to the already huge amount of fantastic memories her family and friends have of this marvelous woman over the many years that they were blessed to have her in their lives.
Marion hated a fuss, was always first in line to help others, but did not like it when the attention was on her. To the very end, Marion continually concerned herself with how much , she was being a bother, and all the fuss everyone was making, or how much time people were spending being with her- which people did happily. Her grandchildren visited every day, and Marion would gladly summons up all her energy and bravely chatter away and never let on, that there was anything wrong, even though they all knew.
2016 was going to be the first time that Marion was going to attend and play at the Gold Coast Congress, having recently retired from doing the card dealing that she had done for many many years. Alas, this too was not to happen, she made Kim promise to attend/manage the Gold Coast Congress. Nearly all the family work at the congress for the week and it would have bothered Marion to know that so many people had to stop what they were doing to take care of her. Nicola stayed back to keep Marion company and to pretend that all was well.
During the Gold Coast Congress, Marion passed away peacefully, the evening of Wednesday Feb 24, surrounded by her 3 children, their partners and her fury babies Shadow and Muffin.,. She wanted no fuss or unnecessary expenditure on a funeral or a service, and she will be most annoyed that she died 'out of hours' and that they had to pay penalty rates to have her body removed by the funeral people. (or body snatchers , as Nicola called them)..
And in accordance with Marion's wishes there was no formal service and she was privately cremated, the family have been mourning the loss of Marion since December of last year, and will continue to do so for a long time to come, and the family is grateful for this opportunity you have provided for them tonight, to celebrate the life of their gorgeous mum and nana.
She was a great lady, mother, in-law, grandmother, mentor and most of all a beautiful friend and shall be missed terribly.
Thank you all for coming tonight, Marion would be honoured to see so many of you here.
There is a 'In Loving Memory' thoughts and comments book being circulated or on the table, please feel free to write your thoughts and share your own memories of this amazing woman.
There has been a huge void created in the lives of Marion's family and friends, and we can only hope that one day we feel some comfort in knowing that she is watching over us all and smiling.
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