Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 Don Langford, and especially to Roy Scott, and Mr Mick Verma, who I personally know very well. Dr LIM (Greatorex): Mr Deputy Speaker, tonight I would like to say a few words about the wife of a good family friend, the mother of a young lady who worked for me in my previous life as a medical practitioner. Her name was Jan Willis. She passed away about two weeks ago and her funeral was last Saturday. Jan Willis was bom in Punchbowl, Sydney, on 12 May 1943, the youngest daughter of Mary and Charles Joseph Sherlock. Her father was a policeman, which meant that they moved frequently to different posts, generally these being in rural settings. I believe that, as a child, she grew and developed a passionate, spirited and caring personality: thoughtful, determined, and always ready for a challenge. In her teenage years through to her adulthood, her compassionate and determined personality always shone through. She was particularly close to her two elder brothers, Barry and Brian. By the time she was three, she had her own Shetland pony which she called Kikero. She and her two brothers would ride and often have races. Evidently, the brothers can recall the times when she rode her horse with her hair plaited in two plaits with red ribbon - that was the sight they used to chase. Jan finished her high school education at a Catholic school in Wollongong. While religion did affect her quite closely, she never talked much about her Catholic school days. After school, Jan began to work for Lysaght in the library section and proved not only to be a lover o f books, but also turned out to be an excellent badminton player. In 1961 at the age of 18, Jans father passed away. It was an incident that affected her deeply and influenced her life greatly from there on. She became very health conscious and, for some reason, assumed a diet more o f fruit and salad rather than red meat. In 1965, Sandra Brown, a long-time friend, introduced the innocent Miss Sherlock to a handsome young surfer who knew his way around the dance floor. For Jan, that was her new love and, evidently, Bill Willis was quite smitten by his dancing partner. Within three months, they were married. Within 12 months of their wedding, their first son, William, was bom, followed by a second called Matthew in the winter of 1968. Unfortunately, young Matthew passed away within a few months, well before the onset of spring o f that year. The effects on Jan and Bill were quite severe. Where once Jan had aspired to be healthy, she was now doubly determined, through her change in lifestyle. A sweet and healthy baby girl called Rowena was bom, and that relieved some of the grief for the family. Rowena was bom in October 1969 followed by Bronwyn, who was bom in 1971. Both the girls were bom at home with only the help of midwives. In 1973, the ever-growing Willis clan packed their belongings, with many a book, into a caravan to travel around Australia. The adventure of fruit picking in Victoria and New South Wales pales in comparison to the journey through the drought-affected interior of Central Australia. From Alice Springs, they explored the Pit Lands of northern South Australia, having experiences that are only best lived by the retelling of ones story, at least. One such would be the twin storm they experienced in Emabella just hours after they arrived in the valley. The storm was so extreme that it lifted water tanks from their stands and the Williss little caravan from its wheels and rolled Bills seven tonne truck. You can imagine the cultural shock for an east coast girl but Jan, with her characteristic openness, revelled in changes and newness, giving a piece of her heart away to the red beauty of the land and the open generosity of the Pitjantjatjara people. In 1974, a dairy farm with 100 cattle and 420 acres of land was bought near Gympie. Megan was bom there on the farm in September 1974. Brenda, the youngest, also shared that birthplace, being bom in 1976. The time on the farm was a good time for the family and it was there that the three older children and Bill, their father, came to pick up religion very strongly. Jans faith in God and her personal awareness of His presence throughout her life was very real. In Queensland, and through relationships that developed with other Christians, her relationship with God was cemented into a very vital and growing partnership. From then on, she really led a very religious life and became one of the pastors in Alice Springs. The family obviously remembers a lot about their mother and the way she spoke o f God - many words of wisdom and insight. I recall the many nights that I would see her saying the epilogue on Impaija. Many times, through the religious relationship within the family - you could see that this family was very close knit - did a great deal of charitable works in this town. In fact, they took over the womens half-way home, I would call it, at Bloomfield Street, to house Aboriginal young women and others who are pregnant waiting to have their babies in Alice Springs. 3994