Sport stalwart passes away
FOR MANY people a commitment to working in the community fills their lives with pleasure and a sense of having done some good.
For Joyce Christiansen, her commitment to hockey, swimming and bowls spanned over 60 years, years in which she gave more than her fair share and during which she made many good friends and was admired by all who worked with her.
Joyce was born in Maryborough on June 4, 1922 to Susan Emily (nee Everett) and Arthur Gordon Wallace. She was a four-pound (1.8kg) baby and not expected to live but her mother, an ex-nurse, had other ideas. Arthur was a widower with a nine-year-old son Arthur Gordon Junior, who died in 1975.
Joyce started school at the Newtown State School. Her children went to school there also, although it had been renamed Maryborough West State School. At primary school, Joyce made a friend who became a lifelong companion. Dorothy Watkins was Joyce’s best friend. They were each others’ bridesmaids, Godparents to each others’ children and supported each other through the gains and losses of life.
Joyce’s brother, Arthur, was a solicitor and Joyce worked at Arthur’s law office as a legal secretary after finishing school. Her weekly wage was seven shillings and sixpence.
Joyce had an impressive collection of trophies for sport, particularly for running. Before she left school she was asked to play in a hockey team. She was the youngest player at that time, for in those days people didn’t start playing until they were working. Thus, in 1937, she began her love for hockey which lasted for more than 60 years.
Joyce was 17 when World War II broke out. The social centre for the young people of the region was the roller skating rink where Joyce met her future husband.
Joyce and Dorothy got to know some of the English sailors who came to Australia to take possession of the HMAS Maryborough and decided to teach them to play hockey.
The all-ages team became good enough to join the competition at the hockey grounds and their photo is on the club house wall.
“In 1941, the RAAF set up a flying school in Maryborough and with it came this (American) transport sergeant looking rather dashing in his air force blues,” Joyce wrote.
“His name was Leslie Christian Christiansen.
“Meanwhile, a few of us girls had got together on the Town Hall Green in 1945 and it was decided to form a hockey team to be called Wallaroos.
“Some of the girls’ boyfriends played for the Wallaroos Football Club, hence the name. (Les had played for the air force football team).
“This team (Wallaroos) was the beginning of what is now one of the largest clubs in Maryborough.”
Les and Joyce married in May 1947.
They had three children – Susan, Peter and Lyndal. Early in their marriage they lived at Kallangur but when they moved back to Maryborough Joyce once more gravitated back to hockey, this time coaching as well and initiating the Uniteds Hockey Club.
Joyce became more involved in the Maryborough Hockey Association as record secretary and treasurer.
As their children played hockey in the winter and were swimmers in the summer, Les and Joyce became involved in the swim club. She worked tirelessly for committees, from school tuckshop duties to president of the school P&C, to executive roles with both the hockey and swimming associations.
When Joyce eventually retired as treasurer of MDHA she had held that position for 25 years. Even so, she still ran the Friday night bingo session for eight more years.
Les and Joyce were made life members of the Maryborough Swimming Club in 1973 and 1975 respectively.
Joyce received life membership of the Maryborough Hockey Association in 1978 and was proud to accept her Life Service Award from Queensland Women’s Hockey Association in 1981.
In 1975 Joyce answered an ad for a position as a part-time interviewer with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a position she held for 23 years.
They moved to Brisbane and in 1988 Les died of a heart attack at age 73.
In 2002, she moved to Cairns to be near daughter Lyndal and her family.
She was soon helping at her grandchildren’s school tuckshop.
She also joined Probus, played cards, volunteered and enjoyed the local club on a Friday evening.
Joyce died suddenly on Monday, June 21.
The strength of the Maryborough and District Hockey Association in 2010 lies in the foundations laid by people such as Joyce Christiansen.
We will be forever thankful for her many years of dedication to hockey and her other interests.