For Phyllis, a life of teaching began as a childhood dream

WHEN she was born, Phyllis Louisa Penrose was meant to be named by her grandmother. If she had, she would have been called Barbara Rosamund Penrose (nee Strong).

But by any other name, Mrs Penrose would still have become the beloved teacher whose belief and trust in God carried her through the good times and the bad.

Phyllis was born at St Andrew's Hospital in Ipswich. Her paternal grandmother was given the task of naming her, but she arrived in a flood and her grandmother was stranded on the other side of the river at Kholo, so her parents had the task.

Her mother's parents Mary Ann and Charles Wellen came to Australia from Warwickshire in England in the early 1880s.

Her father's people were of north of Ireland descent and they came to Australia in the early 1850s.

Her father had a lovely singing voice and one of her fondest memories was of him singing old Irish songs such as Danny Boy and I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen.

Her mother, meanwhile, sewed. She was a seamstress before she married, working at Bishop and Woodward where the old Bendigo Bank building is now and then in the tailoring department in Cribb and Foote.

Phyllis' earliest memory was the Christmas before her fourth birthday and she woke very early on Christmas morning and tried out the toys on the floor.

Her parents woke and discovered what she was doing and told her to put everything back the way Santa had left them.

She remembered the Depression as a time of great hardship but also a time of brotherhood when people helped each other as much as they could.

Once she started school at Brassall, she wanted to be a teacher. She lined up pot plants, cotton reels and whatever else she could find and teach them.

At Brassall school she met her best and life-long friend Esme Nimmo. They went to primary school, grammar school and teacher's college together.

Phyllis passed her scholarship in 1941 and enrolled at Ipswich Girls' Grammar School. Her parents were determined to give her a good education even though they had to make a big sacrifice; her father was on the basic wage and her mother only had one good dress. But the family never missed out on anything, always had good food and plenty of love and attention.

She did her senior the year the war ended. She remembered being in a Conga line in the Commonwealth Bank and kicking the stuffing out of feather pillows down Nicholas St.

While on a family holiday in Toowoomba, she first met her future husband Jack and at the start of the next year started at Training College at Kelvin Grove.

After teaching at Sarina, she was transferred to Silkstone where she met Jack again.

When they married, Phyllis was at the two-teacher Amberley school and after they had been married for a few years the principal from Girls' Central School asked her to teach there.

She quit to have a family but a few years later, resigned to that not happening, she went back to teaching at East Ipswich school where she stayed for 28 years.

Phyllis said she and Jack were opposites - he was calm while she was impulsive, they had different political leanings and Jack was an outdoors person, while she liked indoor pursuits such as reading.

But they had lots in common like a love of dogs and had a happy life. They joined the Ipswich Orpheus Chorale and after 25 years became life members.

In memory

  • Phyllis Louisa Penrose (nee Strong).
  • Born- April 13, 1928. Died - July 26, 2014.
  • Taught at East Ipswich School for 28 years.
  • With husband Jack, a life member of the Ipswich Orpheus Chorale

Topics:  obituary

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