Born in Coraki in 1923, Joan Newman was the second child and first daughter of Frank and Gertrude Battis and sister to Bruce, Mary, James and Gregory.
Life on the farm at Moonem would have been very simple for young Joan. There were two schools in the area but both were a number of miles away. Correspondence schooling was tried for a time by this proved difficult because of the isolation of the area and problems with postal services. So, lessons were set by their mother at home.
Joan’s early life was spent on the farm with occasional trips to Lismore but mainly to Coraki.
Joan was 10 before she had her first trip to the beach.
With the routine of milking and jobs around the farm there was little time for going out until the family got their first car in 1929. It was also the year that her grandparents retired from share farming and moved into Coraki. This meant more visits to town.
With other members of the family concerned about the grandparents’ welfare Joan moved in with them for a time when she was 16 to help with the housework and to take care of them.
Joan first met her future husband Bob when he was a boy and with his older brother they would bring cream-cans across the creek from their grandmother’s property. Bob and Joan never went out as a couple before the war but when news came that he had been captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, Joan’s father suggested she should write to him. Joan said that Bob later revealed to her he had wanted to take her out but because of the age difference he wasn’t game to ask her father if he could.
They married in 1946 in a morning ceremony at Coraki and had a night in Brisbane for their honeymoon. They returned to Tenterfield to begin their life as a married couple. Both had family there so it would have been an easy adjustment for them. Their children Graham and Brian were born in 1948 and 1949 respectively.
In 1952 Bob’s job meant they moved to Casino and bought a house in Anderson Avenue. In 1953 Ray was born and John came along in 1957.
In 1958, Bob died suddenly of a heart attack.
Graham ran to Dr Burfitt who only lived a street away but Bob had passed away by the time the doctor arrived.
During the 1960s Joan busied herself with raising her sons and working with RSL Women’s Auxiliary. She also helped out at school tuck shops and fetes at St Mary’s Marist Brothers School and the newly opened St. Michaels Primary School.
Joan held many positions in the Auxiliary and was made a Life Member in 1976.
She also started work with the St. Vincent De Paul Society in the early 1970s, doing voluntary work at the shop before taking on the task of store supervisor and doing interviews for people suffering from social and or personal issues.
Her involvement with the society lasted for more than forty years.
In the 1980s she began researching her family history, which became an interest that would stay with her for the rest of her life. She was one of the foundation members of the Casino & District Family History Group as she also joined the Historical Society.
Joan and her sister Mary started to do some travelling in the later part of the 1980s with road trips to North Queensland and to many NSW locations attending family history conventions. They flew over to Western Australia to visit their youngest brother Greg. Another bus trip took them through Broken Hill to Adelaide then onto Uluru and Alice Springs, before returning to Casino via western Queensland. They also travelled with Graham to Norfolk Island and Tasmania. The only capital city she didn’t visit was Darwin.
In 1993 she was named Casino Citizen of the Year. 1995 saw her working with the council committee organising events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War 2 as a member of the Australia Remembers Committee.
There was no slowing down for Joan as she entered the new century.
In 2003 Joan was surprised when she was named in the Australia Day Honours list receiving the Order of Australia Medal for her services to the community and she attended the ceremony at Government House in Sydney.
In 2005 she became a member of the Council’s Sesquicentenary Committee. In 2010 she was awarded life membership to the War Widows Guild of NSW after 50 years of membership.
Joan’s life was spent trying to help others. She dedicated herself to her children, their families and to the community at large.
Joan did a Living History interview for the Family History Group and was asked, what was the most valuable thing she learnt from her parents?
Her reply: “When we were young, we didn’t have a lot of education, but we were taught to think of other people less fortunate and to do the correct thing for ourselves.”
She wanted to be remembered as someone who loved to help other people.
2 thoughts on “Joan Newman loved to help people”
Mrs Newman and her sister Mary Battis were also great supporters of the Casino show, and participated in the pavilion competitions. Mrs Newman would arrive with her baking, jams etc and present them to me (the cookery steward) in time for judging. She would always tell me that she didn’t want any prize money she might win, she just wanted to contribute to the display. She was always the recipient of a good number of prize cards and in latter years I would deliver them to her on Sunday morning at the church.
May she rest in peace.
What a lovely memory Catherine.