Charming Dot had a great zest for her passions
DOROTHY Elaine Murphy was born in Kingaroy on July 3, 1920.
She was the first-born child of William and Dorothy Minnie Murphy, and had four brothers.
Her family was hugely important to her, and it was a large one. She was proud of her family and proudly a Murphy.
She valued her family heritage so greatly that she wrote a short book about it - The Man From Kilkenny - about her paternal grandfather Richard Murphy, who immigrated from Ireland and how he and his growing family settled at Aubigny, west of Toowoomba, becoming the first farmers on the Cecil Plains.
Dorothy was also a most loyal and loving daughter, caring for her parents in the new home in Ramsay St until her mother's death in 1966 and her father's in 1981.
There were many trials for a young woman born early in the 20th century.
Dorothy remembered for the rest of her life the out-of-work swagmen coming to the family's home in search of work or food during the Great Depression.
Then in 1939 came the Second World War, to which her three eldest brothers went.
Of fundamental importance to Dorothy throughout her life, was her faith. A devout Catholic, she was a regular churchgoer, at St Vincent's, St Thomas More's and St Patrick's, until old age.
She lived her faith and expressed Christian values in her life, every day of her life.
To her friends, Dorothy was truly a wonderful friend, loyal and caring.
No-one could wish for a truer friend than her. Whatever her troubles were, she wanted to know how things were with you. There was always intelligent conversation, wit and wisdom.
Dorothy loved going out with friends and enjoying coffee at one of the local cafes. She enjoyed meeting new people, including young people. All who met her, went away impressed.
Often with her, especially around her kitchen table, conversation would turn to local, national or international events. One could discuss with her, for example, the challenges of building the Second Range Crossing here in Toowoomba.
Even in recent years, she was an avid viewer of SBS News. She was not a fan of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Dorothy was concerned about many of the trends in the world, and in Australia. She loved Australia and was proudly Australian, and loved Toowoomba.
But while faith and family were the bedrocks of her life, she had talents and passions in abundance.
She was a pianist of the highest quality, a classically trained concert pianist who, when the occasion called, could turn her hand to other styles as well.
In later years, Dorothy taught piano to hundreds of local children. She gave lessons on an upright piano in her garage. The beautiful grand piano, she kept inside in her lounge room.
But not only music - photography. Her creative talents also extended to photography.
She had the ability to create the most remarkable and beautiful photographic images. She was a member of the Australian Photographic Society.
She loved nature, and could express this perfectly, not only in her own beautiful garden but through glorious photographs.
She won a string of prizes. The incredible photograph she took of Halley's Comet in 1986, became so popular in photographic circles, she had to print off hundreds of copies.
Dorothy had a passion for astronomy.
She became extremely knowledgeable in this field, spending many a night in the company of others studying the heavens through telescopes at what is now the University of Southern Queensland.
There was more. Like the rest of her immediate family, she was a good tennis player. She once told me how my father Cecil one day dragged her to the courts - where they won a mixed doubles event.
Dorothy was proud and fiercely protective of her independence. She never wanted to move into a nursing home - and never did.
She was proud of her good health, in spite of the one or two ailments she successfully managed.
She was driving to her local shops in her Ford Festiva virtually until the end.
Those in the aged care field, doctors and others, would marvel at how mentally sharp she was.
Dorothy never married. Among her other personal qualities, she was strikingly beautiful.
Dorothy became unwell only in June of this year.
It was a relatively long decline, because she was declining from a very high level of health and functioning for a woman of her age.
Her zest for life remained virtually until the end. She died not from a chronic illness of any kind, but essentially from heart failure. Her body had reached the natural span of its life.