Helena leaves loving legacy
IN her 98 years, Helena Auchter saw many life changes take place in her home town of Gatton.
She spoke fondly to her family of how kerosene lamps changed to electricity, ice cupboards to refrigerators/freezers, horse and cart to cars and watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon.
Born on September 5, 1917, during the First World War, to James and Johanna Larkin of Gatton, Helena’s family home still stands in Larkin St, where she grew up with her brothers and sisters; Joseph, James, John, Joan and Margaret. The family owned a small dairy and vegetable farm, which encompassed most of Larkin St, stretching through to William and Cochrane Sts, Gatton. Lena’s trait of compassion, care and empathy for others indeed was inherited from her parents.
She attended Gatton Catholic School, and as a young teenager, she remained with her parents helping with the farm before gaining employment as a bookkeeper for a solicitor on the Granite Belt. She moved to this area to live, returning often to Gatton by bus to visit her family. It was during this time that she met Norman Roy Auchter, a debonair, handsome mechanic, who swept her off her feet. Norm would venture to the Granite Belt just to visit her, proceeding to ask for her hand in marriage. . The romance blossomed and on Sunday, December 12, 1937, they were married on the north side of Brisbane. Norm and Lena honeymooned at Coolangatta. On their return to Gatton, their new home was completed beside Lena’s parents’ house in Larkin St, where they resided for 62 years together and after Norm’s passing; another 12 years for Lena.
Norm and Lena were blessed with the birth of their only child, John Richard, at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. John Richard was born on June 16, 1950.
When John was around teenage years, Lena accomplished her desire for driving a manual Holden ute. She was able to assist John with his driving lessons. Norm however quoted, “While I’m alive, I will drive!” In 1975, Norm and Lena travelled to Brisbane to attend John’s marriage to Elizabeth. In 1991, Lena and Norm became grandparents for the first time to Kieran Raymond Larkin Auchter, retaining Lena’s family name Larkin, which is Irish for Lawrence.Her home was known as the halfway house, as it always had someone there to have a cuppa and a bite to eat. Her home was open to all. On arrival, the very first thing Lena would do was to put the kettle on. “Cup of tea?” is what she would ask.
Lena and Norm faced many hardships, but endured these and remained true to each other for the 62 years of marriage. There was never a harsh word spoken or a raised voice. There was just the look they both understood.
Lena and Norm were avid pet lovers and their yard consisted of three yards – the house yard, the vegetable and fruit tree yard and the yard for chooks and ducks. Norm and Lena were quietly proud of their achievements. They reached their milestones of 25th, 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries. They both were able to celebrate their 90th birthdays, but unfortunately for Lena; she never got her desired wish to reach 100, to receive the Queen’s letter. Her passing was two days shy of her 99th birthday.
Lena remained in her own house, until ill-health forced her to be placed in the Regis Valley Views nursing home, which was not far away from her own home. She loved looking out of her window, as it faced Larkin St.
Lena loved talking to the residents and the staff, making many new friends along the way. Lena would always inquire about her family and how they were going. It was in 2014 when the family noticed a change in her health, until her quiet passing on September 3 at 7am.
Her compassion, kind-heartedness, humility and all the lessons that her parents had taught her, were extended to those who needed a hand.
She cared for her brother, her nieces when they needed recouping from ill-health, took on babysitting for neighbours, made lunches and dinners for neighbours, especially Lloyd Reinke and the Hood sisters who resided on each side of the fence, opened the house for relatives to stay, either short term or long term, loved having visitors, especially young folk, having lots of laughs and special treats.
These people in her eyes were her friends. Lena was a keen listener, but also provided many, with kind words of wisdom.
She was a very witty woman and loved having a joke or two. Her stories were endless and she loved having a laugh with those who would listen to her stories and jokes.
Laughter definitely was the best medicine for her.
After Norm’s death, she joined the seniors’ Club and ventured on bus trips that took her to places that everyone was amazed by. Lena remained a devout Catholic, attending church most Sundays and baptising John in the Gatton Catholic Church. She had an amazing long life, experiencing events, happenings and changes that have occurred around the world that some may have never faced.
Born during the First World War, she experienced the Depression as a teenager.
As a young married woman, she felt the angst of the Second World War and as a middle-aged woman felt the worry of the Vietnam War, as John faced conscription.
She also saw life changes, such as electricity, milking buckets and cans to glass milk bottles and then to cartons, (a lot of the time pouring the carton of milk into the old milk bottles, because she thought it made the milk taste better), brooms to vacuum cleaners, local shops to supermarkets, electricity for lights, radios and fans, black and white television to colour television, phones that were managed by operators to automatic phones, windows wide open to electric fans and then air-conditioning and coal-powered trains to diesel automotives to electric trains and space travel.
She was in awe of all these changes. At 92 she considered buying a mobile phone as she thought she would be able to communicate with family and friends more easily.
Lena will be dearly missed by her family and they are determined for her lifelong qualities to be carried on.
These qualities and the enjoyment of life have influenced her longevity.
Lena has been an integral part of Gatton’s history and Gatton has been rewarded by her life.
TRUE LOVE: Helena married the love of her life, Norm on Sunday, December 12, 1937, in north Brisbane.
Helena Auchter lived a full life.