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Kathy Hurley: b.16th October 1946 d.21st October 2001
Lyn Knorr (includes David Oldfield)
"I mourn thee and say
Hello everybody, my name is Lyn Knorr, and like all of you, I'm a friend of Kathy's. We're here today to celebrate Kathy's life as she would have wished - with style and flair, good talk and good humour.
At the conclusion of our service, you are invited to Spargo's Café Bar at 288 Bridge Road, Richmond opposite the Richmond Town Hall, and family and friends of the Hurleys can join the family at John's home from 1.00pm 6 Holroyd Court, Blackburn South. Can I encourage you to make a donation in Kathy's memory to the scholarship fund being established by the Federation, or, if you prefer, to plant a tree or a bush at your home, so that Kathy's memory lives on with you. And if anybody has a mobile phone, will you please switch it off now. Thanks.
Kathy had friends everywhere - no one who encountered her failed to be warmed by her capacity for affection and friendship, and no one who knows of her tragic death will remain untouched by it. She was an exceptional woman colourful, energetic, thoroughly devoted and passionate. She was full of life, she was fun to be with, she was a good friend, and she died before her time.
We could say that Kathy had what T S Elliot called an "experiencing nature". She was vulnerable to life, she was affected and altered by it, and she had in larger measures than most compassion for her fellow human beings. It is this last quality, compassion, that attracted us all to Kathy.
It is not our hands that make us human, nor our legs. It is not the shape of our face, nor the thickness of our hair, or the texture of our skin. We are human because of our hearts, and the souls that fill our hearts. Kathy's soul filled her heart.
These few words today will not tell us all that Kathy's life means to those who will love her for the rest of their lives. Her family members - her children, Peter and Julia, her husband, John, her sister Carolyn and brother in law, Paul, her sister in law, Janet, brother in law, Graham and nephew, Glen, her father in law and stepmother in law John and Noreen, her Uncle and Aunt, Sandy and Bev, and cousins, Russell, Jillian and John. Her friends, Kai and Jill, Jill Phillips and Gary, Wayne and Kylie, Max and Marg Phillips, the Nelsons Joan, Michael, Maria, Peter and ? and Dick, Marg and John Powell, Merrin and Kathy's godson Ryan, Tony and Artie Gray, Joyce Marshall and Graham Midgley, Jenny Jones and Harry Charalambous, Rhiannon and Culum Brown, Pauline Bride and Diane Toward, her celebrant colleagues and work friends, and especially her treasured Dally. But they can remind us again of a wonderful life, and a precious friend.
When I visited John, Peter and Julia the other night they told about the highlights and challenges of Kathy's life. It was a warm and affectionate tribute to a woman who is obviously much loved. And as we spoke the shock and sadness of the last few days fell away and they were telling me of their love for the woman who has affected them in such profound and enduring ways.
It's 1946 and Kathy is born on 16th October in Maffra, the first child Bill and Mary Burley. Carolyn, Kathy's sister, joins them three years later.
Bill is a farmer, a butcher, a shopkeeper and a farmer again. He is a marvellous man, totally devoted to Kathy, they are best mates.
Kathy attends Maffra Primary and then Maffra High School. She is a champion swimmer and still holds the record in backstroke. She could beat all the boys in those days and was champion of Gippsland. Later on she played a bit of netball.
She leaves school in Year 10 and starts her first job at Fulton's Garage in Maffra.
1962 and John Hurley is visiting his cousin, Tony Gray, in Maffra. They are sitting in Tony's car as Kathy walks by. "Who's that," demands John. John said Kathy was the most spectacularly beautiful person he'd ever seen - absolutely beautiful. But it was some time before they went out on a date Kathy's mother warns her against John on two counts first, he was one of those fast talking fellows from the city Box Hill actually, and second, he was a Catholic!
9th of the 9th 1964 arrives Kathy and John finally go on their first date dinner at the Wurruk Hotel. Wurruk is a little town just outside Sale.
1964 and Kathy decides to move to Melbourne. She boards at Moonee Ponds and works in the Accounts Department at St Vincent's.
1966 Kathy contracts TB she is treated for two years and finally recovers.
1968 is quite an extraordinary year of ups and downs Kathy joins Remington as a programmer for their mainframe computer. In February she and John become engaged. In April she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In June she has a hysterectomy she is heartbroken. On 22nd August 1968 Kathy and John are married and spend their honeymoon in New Zealand.
In 1969/70 she continues working with Remington and she and John set up home in a flat in Mont Albert.
On the 5th January 1971 they board the Fairstar with John's sister, Janet, and sail for England. They spend the year in Europe, travelling all around the British Isles and on to the Continent. For sixteen weeks they travel all over Europe, living in a Ford Transit Van called Fred, named after Tony Gray, and eating the 120 tins of Tesco Savoury Mince they'd bought for the trip. John did most of the driving and Kathy and Janet shared the cooking. The things those two could do with mince they devised the most amazing recipes. They had just enough money to book into a caravan park once a week for a shower.
There were lots of adventures in Southern Italy they were parked by the side of a road where, unbeknown to them, only prostitutes loitered. Janet was cooking and Kathy sat outside writing a letter. Little cars started buzzing her with great interest until John appeared with the shovel. The shovel, of course, served a couple of purposes it was a very compact little van you could sit on the loo and cook at the same time, so they tended to use the outdoors whenever possible and it was also excellent protection.
Their friends, Mary and John Powell, join them in England.
They were back in Australia in time for Christmas 1971, living with Bill and Mary above their shop in Carnegie.
Between 1972 and 1974 they look after Ken and Jill's place in Nunawading while they are overseas.
In 1974 they build their house at Guy's Hill. They live on site in Sandy and Bev's caravan and do a huge amount of the work themselves. How Kathy loved that house.
1975. Kathy's passion for motherhood is finally rewarded. They joyfully adopt Christopher. His tragic death, six months later is devastating for them both.
1976. They are given another chance; they adopt Peter and decide to go farming.
1977 They visit Mary and Bill in Perth and talk to them about coming back to Victoria to retire to the farm. They sell Guy's Hill and buy 170 acres with a one hundred year old house on it at Ripplebrook. In late December Bill and Mary join them in that farmhouse, and John and Bill work the farm together.
1978 is another year of great sadness and enormous happiness. Tragedy strikes in May when Mary dies suddenly at fifty-three, and later in the year they adopt Julia. They were petrified that the agency wouldn't allow them to adopt her because they hadn't yet completed the floor coverings on the new house. Kathy's introduction to farming occurs when she has to help the local vet with a cow that is calving.
The inappropriateness of Mary's funeral upsets Kathy enormously and she decides to do something about it. She returns to school, to Drouin High School, and then to Gippsland TAFE to study loss and grief. She becomes a funeral celebrant working from Ripplebrook, and applies to become a marriage celebrant. Her work involves a huge amount of travel all over West Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley. Peter and Julia often accompany her as her car buddies.
1984 and Sam, the Golden Cocker Spaniel comes into their lives. For a woman of such a generous nature there would have to be animals. Kathy just loves Sam and he loves her. Sam snuggled up under Kathy's chin was a common sight.
1986. The family go on a trip to Fiji. On the day they leave Kathy and John sleep in. When the kids wake they rush into their parents' bedroom demanding to know why they aren't taking them to school. Would you like to go to Fiji today, said Kathy. Julia said that trip was such a happy time for them.
1987, they buy their house in Glen Iris.
1988 they spend four months travelling around Australia in a caravan, calling in at Expo in Brisbane.
In January 1989 they move down to the house in Glen Iris - for the kids schooling, and to allow Kathy to further develop her celebrancy work - and Bill moves with them. Kathy loves living in Melbourne, developing relationships with other celebrants, enjoying life.
1995 Kathy's dear father, Bill, dies. Theirs has been a particularly close relationship. Kathy nurses Bill at home for two years before reluctantly allowing him to go to a nursing home. She continues to visit him every day until his death.
1997 - In June Mandy O'Brien goes overseas, and Kathy works voluntarily for the AFCC, eventually developing the job into a part time one, and then, as the membership increases, into a full time one. She gives up funeral celebrancy, warning other celebrants to be wary of the burnout she suffered.
In July 1997 Kathy and John separate. It's a very civilised separation. They remain close friends and absolutely committed to their children. They continue to celebrate family occasions together.
1998 Kathy buys her own bolthole in Richmond. It's a beautiful unit overlooking the Yarra, and she finds there the refuge she's seeking. She surrounds herself with beautiful things and beautiful music.
In the ensuing years she's been busy doing the
things she's wanted to do for a very long time, but was unable
to pursue because of her commitment to her role as wife and mother.
She made those lifelong dreams come true. She travelled overseas
every year, she attended the theatre with her mother in law,
Noreen, she ate out, collected artworks, pursued excellence in
her wedding ceremonies, she nourished her friendships - and she
found her soulmate.
People all over the country join us in mourning Kathy today. Some have come from interstate and overseas to be here to say goodbye to Kathy.
It's a very sad day for Kathy's sister, Carolyn. They have loved each other all their lives, and saw a lot of each other when their father was alive. Carolyn has lived in Northern New South Wales since the early seventies. She was planning a visit at the end of November and they were both looking forward to that. Kathy was the person she turned to when things went wrong in her life. They were great scrabble mates - playing scrabble was what they did when they were together they laughed a lot and had a lot of good times. Kathy always did the cryptic crossword in The Age on Saturdays, and she and Carolyn used to see who would be first to get out the word puzzle. They were both good with words, an attribute inherited from Bill. Carolyn said she was really proud of Kathy Kathy was a country girl and she went out and created a life for herself. They were proud of each other actually Carolyn is a very talented jeweller herself.
John Hurley has a great love for Kathy. They have grown together over the years. She always supported John in whatever he wanted to do. She'd type the job applications for him, she encouraged him to have a go at farming and they were successful at it. They built two houses together, and travelled the world. He told me that random things had happened in Kathy's life. The girl of the early sixties had a wonderful life ahead of her but fate put a lot of challenges in her path. She was forced to harden herself to some things for her own protection. He is so pleased that Kathy experienced so much joy at the end of her life.
Peter and Julia told me Kathy was a wonderful mother and a great cook. She made the most wonderful roasts, and Christmas pudding with coins. She was really supportive of who they wanted to be and had told them that if what you want to do makes you happy, go and do it. She gave them her unconditional love and support.
They reminisced about the U2 concert she and Peter went to, and visits to the Casino, an earlier visit to the pokies at Milawa, where, while John lectured Peter and Julia on the futility of playing the pokies, Kathy slipped in and won a couple of hundred dollars, enabling them to buy a painting they'd had their eyes on.
Peter said his relationship with Kathy had improved so much in the last five years they spent quite a bit of time together, and she was pleased his life was turning around. And she was so proud of Julia's commitment to changing her life.
They recognise how very lucky they have been in so many ways: the quality of their parents, the advantages of their upbringing. Someone once told me a person takes death seriously only when one of their parents dies, and I think there is some truth in that. To be young is to think you're immortal, but to see someone so close to you die eradicates the myth of immortality immediately. Kathy's death will be an enormous adjustment for Peter and Julia.
They've had their issues with her, as all kids do, and sometimes they saw the world a bit differently. But as they look back with more distance on their mother's character and life they will only have more love and respect for her. She was a devoted wife and mother, she lived selflessly for her children, she never stopped growing spiritually, emotionally or intellectually, and she was truly loved by an enormous range of people for the spirit with which she lived her life. Not everybody can say that. They'll look back at the totality of her life with great pride. They were privileged to share such an experience. She was not perfect, but she did the best she could she raised her children well and she loved her husband.
Jenny Jones reminded me that Kathy did have a life outside celebrancy - Kathy, Jenny and Margaret are old school friends from the beginning of primary school; Diane and Pauline she met through the other two. Jenny told me that they were in the swimming club and the lifesaving club. Jenny and Marg spent all their time down the shallow end of the pool flirting with the boys - while Kathy did the laps. Like many of Kathy's friends, they expected her to be around to marry their kids, bury their parents and them too, if required. She had done a fair bit of that for them already she married Jenny to Harry, and buried her brother, she is godmother to Marg's son Ryan, she did the funeral service for Diane's father.
They shared long lunches, visited each other frequently, were an important part of all the milestone celebrations, she dragged them along to witness her ceremonies if she needed them. These were friendships Kathy nurtured throughout her life and her death will leave an enormous gap in the lives of her friends.
Fortunately, Kathy caught up with many friends last week as she celebrated her fifty-fifth birthday.
She has special friends among those who shared her life and work at the office in Richmond - Janet Hussey, Natasha Messenger, Lily Li, Jenny Jones, Carol Huish and her family, Dippo and Girlie. With Dally came the added bonus of the Messenger girls Genevieve, Natasha and Julia. Kathy was tenacious in pursuing Lily's residency, and she loves her like a daughter. She nagged Janet to do the celebrancy course to formalise her wonderful talents.
I, too, shared Kathy's love and friendship, and I thank her for that.
Our dear friend and colleague she's made an incredible contribution to celebrancy over the past decade, not only as a friend and generous mentor to hundreds of celebrants; she was, too, a highly articulate champion of our cause.
She pushed the boundaries. In 1995, Kathy and I established a little business called Celebrants at Southgate. We hired some space in the Stuart Gertsmann Gallery overlooking the river at Southgate and interviewed couples and conducted wedding ceremonies there. We offered a wide range of ceremonies, and our brochures, designed by Dally, publicised the fact that ceremonies could be held for all life's milestones. We didn't make any money from our venture but we had a lot of fun and dreamt a lot of dreams.
Her next venture was Funeral Planning. She was well ahead of her time as usual.
There are many couples who owe Kathy a great deal
for her efforts on their behalf. When it was not possible for
couples of faith to marry in their church, Kathy and Fr Gonzales
Munoz would provide a service to meet their needs. This working
relationship developed into a precious friendship.
Her friendship, initiative, vibrancy and vitality will be sorely missed by the celebrant community.
Such a lover of life so active so involved. She was a great inspiration to me. If I had been preparing for a funeral service such as this, she would be the person I'd ring to try out some thoughts and phrases. Just last week, we joked as I asked her for some words for the warming of the rings for a wedding ceremony. I don't do tricks, said I, and she replied that she had a big bag full of tricks. I will miss that enthusiasm for embracing the new, the difficult, the old, the unconventional, the ordinary.
She and I had eaten lamb shanks in many restaurants around the town, certainly all of them in Williamstown. Michael always cooked lamb shanks when she came to dinner. My dog Baci, loves her dearly, and would spend Kathy's visits sitting in her lap. When I look around my house I find many reminders of her presence I'm wearing a shirt she gave me just a few weeks ago we are both big shirt girls. And Michael and I have one of those beautifully prepared wedding certificates Kathy's calligraphy. As I reflected on our friendship, it occurred to me that I got the bargain.
I will desperately miss those long conversations full of sparkling wit, intelligent questioning, gentle chiding, fullsome praise and deep affection. Her gorgeous smile, ready ear and mischievous wit saved many a grey day. I love her joy, her humour, her anxieties, her contradictions, her giving, her worrying, her strength and her smile. I will miss her phone calls, her visits, our shopping trips, the sharing of news and gossip. There is an immeasurable emptiness in my heart today.
I've left the most significant of Kathy's relationships till last. Dally Messenger has been Kathy's mentor, colleague, friend, employer, partner and lover. Theirs was a relationship that so enriched them both. They were alike enough to share common interests, goals and philosophies and different enough to intrigue, amuse, explore, and learn from each other. They had embarked on a new chapter in their lives, experiencing the excitement of learning about all those little nuances of each other's personalities and behaviours in these early days of their relationship. They had found a very special place, and they loved each other dearly. They were each other's closest friends, most intimate confidantes, strongest supporters and most sensitive and honest critics. Kathy brought newness and freshness into Dally's life and she offered him motivation and the most generous encouragement to pursue his dreams. But most of all, Kathy gave Dally trust and loyalty and love. She is his best friend and he will hold her deep in his heart for the rest of his days.
All the people here today have woven strands in
one way or another in the tapestry of Kathy Hurley's life. Her
love, warmth, humour, and generosity of spirit brought joy and
inspiration to your lives and you will miss that. You were so
lucky to know her. She charmed you, inspired you, taught you,
and has given you all a sensational friendship. The measure of
her life is not in its length, but the depth of her impact on
you. She drew you all close to her with her warmth, her humour
and her zest for life.
(Lyn) Kathy's children want to share some thoughts with us about their treasured mother. First we're going to hear from Peter, and then from Julia with a poem that Kathy used to explain death to her.
I feel so incredibly proud to stand here in front of you all and say I am Kathy Hurleys' son.. Julia, my sister and I were chosen by our parents Kathy and John to be their children, I feel this is the greatest gift anyone can be given.
One of my earliest memories is with Mum and Dad standing at the end of a Pier in Narooma. The day is beautiful, not a cloud in the pale blue sky and the world was looking so huge as it does thru they eyes of a child, when she spotted an R.A.A.F plane flying over. She hinted that it might have been our friend and hero Pete Nelson flying out of the Jervis bay Navy base. When I discussed this years later with mum she told me I was a bit older than 2 and we were on a holiday there. Julia arrived with much joy for Mum and Dad just after this time.
When I was in year 3 I remember Mum was the president of the school council, so this meant she was in charge of organising the prizes for the school fete. She managed to get two racy looking remote control cars donated from Nissan, one for the Raffle, the other for guessing the number of jellybeans. Mum, like any good mother, let me take them both for a test drive before she gave them to the school. I really thought it would be the last I saw of them. The day of the fete came and I'm standing up the front with Mum ready for her to announce the winner of the Jelly bean comp. She looks at the paper has a bit of a double look and then reads out the winner. "Peter Hurley"!. Mum looked mortified and some one in the audience yelled out it was rigged, but I asked her many years' later and she assured me I did guess the number of jelly beans in the Jar!
The family enjoyed many special holidays together
and some of these times included years holidaying at Wilsons
Prom with the Phillips, Growcotts, Skermers and the Martins .
Also there where lots of years where spent at Eden with the Hansons
the Phillips the Stewarts and with Dad's sister Janet and our
In 1988 the family spent four months travelling Australia, and to this day I still remember what a wonderful time it was. One of the best memories of this trip was stopping at a beautiful secluded beach two hours north of Cairns, the sun was just setting and we spent till dark combing for shells like Mum Julia and me loved to do.
On my eighth birthday all I wanted was a Atari games machine. I was really sure I would receive it but the morning of my birthday Mum came into my room with a sad look on her face. She told me not to be disappointed because they hadn't got the games machine, but like any kid that has had a wish for ages and it doesn't come true I was! Mum took me out to the lounge room and there it was - A Commodore 64 with Tape drive! Mum always encouraged my love of all things electronic. Because Dad was, and still is, a school principal I had access to computers from a young age, but it was Mum that sat down with me and played games and when I got sick of that, helped me to write my own games!
In later years when I got into Dance parties Mum would spend time helping me design my outrageous costumes and at one stage we were going to go into business making these garments from recycled cloth!
Mum has always been extremely artistic and that is an attribute I would like to think she has given me. In year 11 Mum helped me do a poster for a graphics project. Mum spent heaps of time with me on the A2 sized poster all hand coloured. I didn't ever really think much of the poster but it wasn't until we got a call from Marg Powell telling us that it was in the end of year school exhibition! I still see the smile of joy and when she told me. "See" Pete, she said, " I had faith in you ".
That's the best thing about Mums, their unshakeable
faith in their sons and daughters. I am glad in the last 5 years
that mum managed to create a new life for herself, I was always
proud to go over to her beautiful flat and sit out on the front
and enjoy a herbal tea with her. She always liked beautiful things
and every time I went over she would have a new piece of art
or trinket with a story to show me. In her career Mum worked
so hard for what she believed in and what she thought made a
On Saturday it came to me that my Mother Kathy
was a Pioneer. She saw no limits to where someone could get married
and wanted to show people how they could spend the happiest day
of their lives, and in the case of a funeral, how to make it
as memorable and heartfelt as possible.
She always had a funny story to share with the family at Christmas and Birthdays. One I particularly remember is a funeral she did for a biker in the "Hells Angels". At the end of the ceremony, after the coffin was lowered all these big biker blokes that had been standing around grieving for their mate started to throw special personal items in with the coffin, money, rings, watches. The most unusual thing about this event though was that one biker who had been drinking all the way thru the service tore of half of his jeans and proceeded to throw in his prosthetic leg! Mum quickly grabbed her tape player for fear of it going in as well.
Today I see so many faces in front of me, some I do know, most I don't, but that makes me feel so even more confident and even more prouder of the fact she made such an obvious difference in peoples' lives.
I love you Mum, I am going to miss those roast
dinners you cooked so well for us.
Barbara Hilshorst is a fellow celebrant and close friend of Kathy's. They've travelled the world, these two. Barbara
Another guest at the following Palotti Conference was David Oldfield from the Centre for Creative Imagination in Washington. He has sent this moving tribute
Half a world away, there is a pocket of silence today. It is a soft, comforting space, shared by one man who knew Kathy Hurley personally, and others who knew her only in the afterglow of Dally's and David's love for her. But it is enough, this afterglow, for others, half a world away, to know the radiance, and the warmth, and the grace of the woman who has passed from us.
Silence is the perfect tribute to Kathy, for she, amongst all the other rowdy and raucous denizens I met on my pilgrimage to Oz, she knew the wisdom and the power and the beauty of stillness, of silence, of the invisible workings beneath the surface that keep the world turning.
In his later years, William James, the great American philosopher, said, "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. And I am for those tiny, invisible, loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like capillaries oozing water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride."
I know of no words to describe the essence of Kathy Hurley more succinctly than these. She seemed to work out of the spotlight, underground, if you will, like the root system of a tree, seeking out the moisture and nourishment the Federation needed to keep its trunk strong, its leaves green, and its fruit juicy. Yet who, when looking at the magnificence of a towering oak, its branches arching toward the light of the sun, would think to say, "what a root system that tree must have!" When I praise Kathy, I praise the unseen creative force that lies below all of our visible accomplishments.
Half a world away, the Native peoples of North
America share a common understanding about death. They believe
that one does not "die" until every human being who
has known that person has died. We lose our bodies, of
I have probably spent fewer days and hours with
her than anyone else who has gathered today, but what crystal
clear memories! What perfect recall I have of the way she took
charge of me that day in the Melbourne Airport, a
With what emotional clarity can I see Kathy subtly (and not so subtly) "managing" the swirl of enthusiasms, anxieties, demands and frustrations that landed on her desk every day, courtesy of the Federation members! I carry these memories like treasures in the core of my being, and they will remain alive there for as long as I can think and feel and dream.
And you, my dear friends, how I wish I could be with you all, could hold you and be held by you at a time like this when I simply am not big enough to contain my sorrow. Sorrow this big cannot be denied; it can only be transformed. I find, for myself, the only fitting tribute to such a woman is to take her spirit, her dignity and her compassion into every endeavour from this day forward.
Half a world away, there is a pocket of silence, for the light that has left this world, for Kathy Hurley, the quiet miracle of a woman I have been graced to call my friend.
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(Lyn) Many Hancock has come over from New Zealand to honour her friend. Mary was one of the first guests we had at the Palotti Conferences, and has shared a close friendship with Kathy since then. Mary
For my dear Kathy, my friend and my colleague
Do you remember, Kathy?
Do you remember, Kathy?
Do you remember, Kathy?
Do you remember, Kathy?
Do you remember, Kathy?
Do you remember, Kathy?
Yes, i remember.
I thank you for your love and friendship.
by raymond carver
Life has many cruelties, but the cruellest of all is death.
I have been a friend of Kathleen Mary Hurley for twenty years, we were soulmates in the world of celebrancy. She was the only person whom I ever recommended to an Attorney-General to be made a celebrant. The Attorney-General was Gareth Evans and his secretary was Chris Maxwell. And to my surprise they just did it.
I can't exactly pinpoint the sequence of events but I remember her coming to me when I was still editing Dance Australia magazine and saying, "The celebrant program is sick, and it is getting sicker. And you are the person who can do something about it."
So she took me along to a meeting of celebrants. The preoccupations were very distressing.
Once again, I am not quite sure of the sequence of events. But a group of us, building on the core group held together by Rick Barclay, decided it was time we got it right. Off the law and onto ceremonies, off quantity onto quality, away from brevity onto substance; people first, procedures second. Not just words, but music and symbolism and choreography and poetry and song. Not just weddings, but Namings and Funerals, and later on, milestone celebrations for the broad spectrum of life events.
When the history of this great leap forward in celebrant standards comes to be written, the Kathy Hurley influence will be writ large. Because the watershed for all these injections into human life, and the resulting paradigm shift in the social fabric, were the six AFCC Pallotti Conferences. These changed the face of celebrancy throughout Australia and the world. The lynch pin, the main power behind all of them, was Kathy Hurley. Others of you contributed, but you know that she was the constant, the reliable, the true. She did it without fanfare, with great efficiency, with productive attention to important detail, and with little acknowledgment. The world is in her debt. I thank Mary Hancock, an inspiring keynote speaker of two of these conferences for coming from NZ to stand beside us.
From the earliest days she was one of the few celebrants
in Australia who always provided music in ceremonies. She was
a person who loved music.
That is the big picture. At the grass roots level with her private clients she was the same. Couples would come with limited ideas and wanting the classic "short informal" . They went away loaded with music and poetry and candles and wine cups and personally created stories and an event no one would ever forget. Enthusiasm beamed out of their eyes. Her letters of appreciation glowed in the dark.
And we were still pursuing that ideal together to the second before her death, which was really last Friday morning the 19th October 2001 (Officially at 3.20 pm on Sunday the 21st when they did the tests and declared her dead.)
People and friends were curious about our relationship. Were we workmates, were we soulmates, were we friends, were we keeping company, were we sleeping together, were we living together, were we committed to each other. Were we working on a relationship. And this is the one I liked most of all. Were we an item?
Kathy did not believe in marriage in its present form. To her - her life's experiences and the published statistics, it clearly isn't working. We both had difficulties of personal baggage kind, we had a maze of complex relationships we had to negotiate, so we decided to do our best for each other, and to let life take its course. The road we took got better and better, and we became closer and closer. The last two months were the happiest of her life - as they were for me.
There were many things I loved about her. Life had dealt her a number of blows, struggles and disappointments which somewhat suppressed her basic happy nature. She was serious at work but outside that, she had an enormous sense of fun, sense of enjoyment of life, and sense of humour. I saw it as a mission in life to help her unlock her true happy self. When she was happy - playing golf, cooking, playiing scrabble, tackling a cryptic crossword, or socialising with you, her friends - she was so pretty to watch.
She was a feminist of the most enriching kind. She loved men. She loved me. She treated me as an equal. She gave with amazing generosity and she accepted with loving appreciation. She sometimes talked tough but she was as soft as butter. She was affectionate and loving, responsive, caring, supportive, inspirational, responsible, dedicated, totally reliable and untidy. She was such an artist, such a perfectionist. She wrote beautiful calligraphy, painted beautiful pictures, and was annoyingly pedantic about the slightest detail of graphic art.
She was a nature girl. She was a country girl. One example. She loved the birds in the trees. She knew all about them. She had a CD which was just the songs of the birds. She has a video on the life of birds. The coffee table book was the book on birds. She had a unit by the River which looked out on those birds in the trees. She knew which birds were soft on their young and which ones tipped them out of the nest and over the cliff. On her wall is a beautiful painting of bird which she did herself. (It is mine!)
She had s similar knowledge of plants and flowers.
And she was a dog lover. Everywhere she went dogs knew she was a friend. They jumped all over her, they waxed enthusiastic, they licked her face. (Hard to kiss a woman after a dog has licked her face!)
And she travelled - she went to America and had some wonderful experiences - including losing a gall bladder. And she went to Europe with Wayne and Barbara and saw all the great cities, and down to the Mediterranean where she was captivated by Olympia, Ephesus and the Oracle of Delphi. She collected Primary school readers and read them with love and sentiment. She fought for her neighbours in River St. So much more I could say.
I want to thank you all for standing by me and Kathy's family - the Hurleys and Burleys - John, Peter and Julia, Kathy's sister Carolyn. Kathy has a remarkable set of loyal girlfiriends and a set of boyfriends too. I especially thank my wonderful daughters, Genevieve, Natasha and Julia - and Lyn Knorr as representing everyone who has contributed to this farewell. This kind of farewell, I remind you, (and my and Kathy's friend Di Storey will back me) did not exist anywhere in the world, until we Australian pioneer Funeral celebrants made it the norm, and great celebrants like Kathy Hurley, established it with quality, standard, style and substance.
I thank you for all your supportive messages to me and each other. This loss has a broad and sweeping brush. In the last few days I would switch on my phone after an hour or so and hear the voice say . "You have fourteen new messages". I didn't cope with any of that. I thank Jan and Janet and especially Lily Li for helping me in practical ways. Lily and Kathy had a special mother and daughter relationship. I thank my own personal family and my wonderful friends, especially those who have come from afar.
I have four small consolations . She died in my arms, she died quickly and painlessly (she dreaded mental or physical disablement), and, as I said, I know that the last two months of her life were really the happiest. She also donated her corneas, kindneys and liver to people who because of her are very happy today.
In her home she has a grandfather clock, a grandmother clock, a cuckoo clock, and other sorts of clocks. In the frantic hospital days when we hoped beyond hope that she would wake up and join us again, most of the clocks stopped. I stood there and thought the famous W.H. Auden lines:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
To know Kathy Hurley was to love her. Personally I've lost my best and closest friend.
She was my North, my South, my East and West,
Ruth Van Gramberg
Shadows fall upon the world of my loved ones
I have lived so well upon this earth
Dirge without music - Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving
hearts in the hard ground.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the
laughter, the love, -
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Grief remains one of the few things that has the power to silence us. More than love, more than faith, even more than death itself, grief is unspoken. Maybe we do not speak of it because death will mark all of us, sooner or later. Grieving is painful and demanding, but given a chance a profound transforming healing will come.
It's time for us to say goodbye to Kathy. She has touched many of us deeply. We will remember her as a woman who acted according to her beliefs, whose many achievements were accomplished with grace and intelligence, who was full of life, warmth, charm and good humour, and whose tragic death is a terrible loss to us all.
And in the final analysis, when the votes are tallied about your life, you are remembered for what is important. Did you have a heart? Did you love people and did people love you? Did you give more than take? Were you thoughtful, kind, easy to be with? Did you have an impact on people's lives? Were you fun? Did you have a sense of humour? And ultimately will you be missed?
To all of these you can say Yes, a resounding Yes, about Kathleen Mary Hurley. She will be remembered for the richness of the memories you share and the depth of the feelings she evoked in you. She has enriched your lives, and for that you will always be grateful. She will always hold a special place in your hearts.
And now, as we leave Kathy in peace to continue on our own journey, let us listen to these lines of hope from the poet, Cecil Day Lewis
"Her laughter was better than birds in the
morning, her smile
Maybe death is a gift, a blessing, a ceasing from struggle and pain, as sleep is. We've been conditioned to think of death as an enemy, but that's because we, the survivors, haven't gone through the doorway, and all we know of it is what's on this side of the door - the loss, the separation, the grieving
This is not the end for Kathy. Kathy will live on in the memories of those who love her for as long as they live. The essence of Kathy Hurley is not here in this place, but will continue on in those memories. Many men and women will miss her because she was kind and compassionate and thoughtful. Those who knew her can be thankful she lived.
What remains though are two strong feelings deep sadness at Kathy's death and the knowledge that we have only the present. We are not promised tomorrow. The past can teach us, nurture us, but it cannot sustain us. For all of us she has left an important legacy the knowledge of the unnerving fragility of human life, a reminder to appreciate the present.
Our lives are richer today for having had Kathy pass through them. Our hearts and souls are permanently caressed with Kathy's love. Echoes of her spirit, her laughter and her love will resound through our lives and keep her with us forever. She will never be gone, for a small part of her lies within each of us.
This message is for Kathy's children
Tenderly, lovingly and reverently we say our last goodbye to Kathleen Mary Hurley. We remember with gratitude her deep love for her family and friends, and her generous heart. Dear Kathy - strong, courageous, beautiful to the end, and always overwhelmingly generous. Your love lives on in all of us. A wonderful women, thoroughly devoted and passionate, now at rest. We bid you farewell with all our love.
Bird Songs (Song)
Imagine John Lennon (Song)
Lyn Knorr (Eulogy)
Peter Hurley (Tribute)
Julia Hurley (poem)
U2 The Ground Beneath Her Feet
Barbara Hilshorst (Tribute)
Mary Hancock (Tribute and Poem)
Dally Messenger (Tribute)
Two Minute Tributes -
You're my best friend Don Williams (Song)
Ruth Van Gramberg (specially composed poem)
Janet Hussey (Poem)
A love until the End of Time Placido Domingo and Maureen McGovern (Song)
I'll take you home again, Kathleen Josef Locke (Song)
The Age.Obituary by Lyn Knorr-Dec 6 2001
By LYN KNORR
Civil celebrants came to Melbourne from interstate
and overseas recently to farewell one of their own. Kathy Hurley
was one of the pioneers of the civil celebrant movement.
Kathy moved to Melbourne in 1989. She: continued to push the boundaries, improving standards, conducting wedding and funeral services and later on, milestone celebrations for the broad spectrum of life events.
In 1995, Kathy and fellow celebrant Lyn Knorr, established Celebrants at Southgate, hiring space in the Stuart Gertsmann Gallery to conduct wedding ceremonies.
Kathy's next venture was funeral planning. She was well ahead of her time, as usual.
When couples of different faiths could not marry in the church of their choice, Kathy provided a service to meet their needs.
Together with her partner, mentor, colleague and companion, Dally Messenger, she was one of a small group of celebrants who established the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants in the early '9Os to provide; a national forum for celebrants to pursue excellence in ceremony.
The six AFCC sponsored Pallotti Conferences, largely organised by Kathy, changed the face of celebrancy throughout Australia and the world.
In 1997, Kathy gave up funeral celebrancy, and took a job with the AFCC. She expanded the organisation and served as vice-president of the AFCC and as the international secretary of the International Federation of Celebrants.
She is survived by her children Peter and Julia, sister Carolyn, and her partner, Dally Messenger.
(Lyn Knorr was a friend and fellow celebrant.)
Wednesday 7th November 2001
On behalf of LifeGift and our community, we would like to express our sincere sympathies to you and your family for Kathleen's sudden and tracic death. We would also like to thank you for consenting to organ donation at such a difficult time.
As a result of Kathleen's organ donation five people have been given the opportunity for a better quality of life.
Kathleen's liver was transplanted into a middle-aged man who had been unwell for many years. He is doing well and has been discharged from hospital. Kathleen's right kidney was transplanted into a middle-aged woman who had suffered from renal failure for some years. She has been discharged from hospital and looking forward to gaining some normality back into her life. Kathleen's left kidney was also transplanted into a middle-aged woman. She had been on dialysis for over five years and is also recovering well. Kathleen's corneas have been used to improve the vision of two elderly women who had suffered from affective blindness for many years. Their doctors anticipate they will regain full vision over the coming months.
Kathleen's heart and lungs have been donated for research. They have specifically been used to explore the effects aging has on these organs in relation to transplant surgery, in particular looking at how the muscle cells contract and recover. This will hopefully improve current practices, allowing more people to qualify to be transplanted.
On behalf of these recipients, research units and our community more generally, we would like to thank you again for your kindness and consideration for others, at this time of immense loss, These transplants and research would simply not have been possible without yours' and Kathleen's generosity.
If our service can be of any assistance in the upcoming months, please do not hesitate to contact us.
From A Donor Recipient Family (Necessarily Anonymous)
2 November 2001
My Dear Donor's family,
With all our hearts we say thank you for the kidney which your loved one donated to me. We will take care of this precious gift forever. My life as a mother of six children and wife to my husband is very busy and was very difficult because of my kidney failure and now I won't need dialysis, which is a great gift.
My husband tried to donate one of his kidneys but he was not the same blood group and my children were too young. We have lost our birth country to civil war and came to Australia after five years in America so that we could raise our children to have the best behaviour and education.
The reason we came to this country is because it is a multicultural society. My husband has seen that there are plants and trees from all over the world here that grow and thrive together and so it is with the people and this makes Australia very special.
My wife (the recipient) is an open hearted person who loves to meet people and your great gift has made our children very happy especially our youngest boy who is five years old. All my friends and family who are scattered all over the world thank you and your family for your special gift in this time of sorrow and will think of you always.
A grateful recipient and family
From A Second Donor Recipient (Necessarily Anonymous)
Dear Donor Family
I am writing to express my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity you have granted me in your time of sorrow.
I am a mother of four and a grandmother of seven. The recent cornea transplant, made possible by the donation of your loved one has provided me with the continued joy of sight and in turn provided me with the joy of watching my own loved ones grow and flourish.
I am sure this note will in no way compensate for
your loss but I hope it goes some way towards enabling you to
cope with it.
Gavin and Tracy Reid have planted a tree in memory of Kathy at Gavin's parents Property (Bill and Sally) near Queenslcliff.
I have so many memories of Kathy - our house seems just full of them - the aboriginal print hanging in the hall, the painting in the dining room, the mugs in the kitchen, the opal she gave me back in '71, the photographs . . . . .
Kathy was one of my oldest friends having come into my life as a penfriend way back in March '61 when she was 14. We wrote to each other for all those years' and exchanged our news, our dreams and talked about our lives. I remember that even then she cared about people so much, she was teaching the local kids to swim, and she was a keen member of the life saving club. I still have a copy of the "Maffra Spectator" of 5th Dec '61 with a smiling Kathy on the Memorial Pool steps, gracing its front page. She was a Star !
As the years passed, we both got married and Kathy and John came to England. Sylvia and I spent some very happy days with them over that year in between their trips. Kathy has brought so much to us with her friendship - there are so many memories. I remember how excited she was about the house that she and John were going to build at Guy's Hill - I still have the sketch plans for that 'Derwent' farmhouse too !
Over the years' we became families, but we still maintained contact, although sometimes infrequently, but it was always the same Kathy that we spoke to, always eager to know our news. When Kathy came to London again so recently the years just melted away. I knew that I would recognise her at the airport even after 28 years' and I did. Her smile, her eyes, her warmth - how could I not recognise her amongst those hundreds of people at Heathrow ?
Kathy was a Star! Like so many others we will miss her radiance so much - she truly was a very special person. We have shared her friendship and our lives are much richer for it.