With the recent death of Dorothea Lavery on 12 November 2016, her 99th birthday, the Society lost a long time member who will be remembered for her great presence, her great love of the society and of all people, her great love of haiku and her great sense of humour. She was a longtime friend and mentor to many and will be sadly missed.
Dorothea’s family is as great as she was herself and numbers eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. To all the family the Society extends its heartfelt condolences.
A Celebration of Life service was held on Friday 18 November and for those who couldn’t attend but would like to add their name to the guestbook the link is here.
SWWVic member Meryl Brown has compiled tributes to Dorothea given by Society members. In their tributes below, SWWV members and friends celebrate the life of Dorothea Lavery, a dedicated life member who contributed much to the society as we know it today.
A selection of Dorothea’s Haiku has also been compiled by Meryl Tobin and can be read following the tributes.
TRIBUTES TO DOROTHEA LAVERY
Errol Broome: was a distinguished president and the Society gained in strength through her leadership.
When Dorothea and Dorothy Richards and I organized a Federal Conference in Melbourne, we spent hours on a production line making lamingtons for about a hundred members from all over Australia. This was part of the picnic lunch we provided for a bus trip to Dromkeen.
Dorothea’s husband also supplied us with delicious cheeses whenever we catered for visitors or outside workshops.
I can still hear her laugh.
Coral Hartley, Editor of The Write Angle who published many of Dorothea’s haiku: Sad news to hear Dorothea has passed away, though I was expecting it. I met her only twice, but I remember the way she knelt on the floor and put warm socks on my freezing feet. My daughter and I both thought she was a gracious and impressive person, and her dressing was so tasteful. I will insert a Valé for her in the next edition of The Write Angle.
Jenny Hearn: Lovely to hear from you even though your words contained a sad message expressing your grief at the loss of a dear friend and mentor. Regrettably I did not know Dorothea, but to me her passing seems also a cause for the celebration of wonderful, contributing life.
Janet Howie: What a woman! A colourful and outgoing person, dedicated to the Society and to the history and writing of haiku. In 2003 Dorothea and Meryl edited Thoughts in Miniature, a fine collection of haiku by members of the Society – Rhona Fahey, Rebecca Maxwell, Janet Howie, Meryl Brown Tobin and Dorothea Lavery. We had a number of Haiku meetings in Dorothea’s home. All very enjoyable and productive occasions.
Dorothea was also concerned that all the members of the Society should read their work well. She gave a few demonstrations on how to project the voice loudly and clearly, with expression to be heard with full effect.
Members appreciated her help and encouragement. With Dorothea some of us did readings in the chapel at Cabrini.
Rebecca Maxwell: a number of months I attended a haiku group at Dorothea’s. She not only received us for lunch and for the shared haiku activity but she also made time to pick me up before the meeting every time. It’s like she evinced a sense of calm and certainty so that there was no rush and no feeling of possibly not coping with the agenda.
Dorothea’s haiku showed a strong leaning to Buddhism. I don’t think it was only that which gave her calm but rather a kind of living in expansiveness.
Then there was Dorothea’s voice and spoken delivery––clear, animated and with interesting vocabulary.
She never made a fuss about my disability. I don’t think fuss or difficulty were part of her nature.
I remember Dorothea telling me about her ayah who gave her a lot of love and from whom she received her sense of calm, security and care. When Dorothea’s family left Hong Kong, she would have loved her ayah to have come to live here too. Dorothea told me it was like leaving her mother.
Del Nightingale: the time when Dorothea was still very much involved in the society she shared her knowledge and her love of all things literary and especially the beautiful poetic form of haiku. It was as though the written haiku embodied for her the essential simplistic but profound beauty of the Asian cultural history and art forms. She was born in Hong Kong and she came to live in Australia when she was five. However, her interest in the East continued to play a significant part in her life and it coloured the concepts she shared with us about her beloved haiku. Visiting her would mean preparing haiku offerings for her scrutiny. It was always astonishing to see just how acute her mind remained despite her declining physical abilities. It has been an enormous privilege to know Dorothea and to be able to gain understandings of her life experience, for she has lived through historic times.
Meryl Tobin: Dorothea was a grand old lady who will be remembered for her great presence, her great love of the society and of all people, her great love of haiku and her great sense of humour. As she was a longtime friend and mentor, I will miss her greatly.
On Ninety Mile Beach
roaring seas lash shipwrecked hull
screeching gulls quiver
[Equal Third, Papyrus Publishing Award – Poppy Seeds and Laurel Tree]
[Published The Write Angle, Feb/March/Ap 2011]
White foam on seawall
heavy seas lash fishing boats
women holding lamps
[Published The Write Angle, March 2014]
By cool mountain stream
Buddha rests on mossy rock
[Published Thoughts in Miniature, 2003]
Above rugged peaks
mighty condor swoops and glides
through freedom of sky
[Published Thoughts in Miniature, 2003]