Sunday, May 17, 2015


This, as promised, is the eulogy given by Professor Saint at mum's funeral service held in the crematorium at Karrakatta Cemetery on 10th January, 1985:

"Sunset and Evening Star
And one clear call for me;
Let there be no moaning at the bar
When I put out to sea.

My friends, Gertrude Ruston, M.B.E., J.P., has indeed put out to sea; but if I judge her character correctly I believe that she would not have asked us to moan on this occasion.

Among the countless number of people we meet in the course of our lives there are few - a very few - who make a vivid impression on us by virtue of the palpable nobility of their spirit; they carry with them a halo of goodness, they influence our thinking and inspire us to greater and nobler deeds  Some would say they bear the mark of Grace.  Gertrude Ruston, whose passing we mourn as much with tears of happiness as of sadness, was such a one.

I came to know her thirty years ago, being thrust into the Presidency of W.A.C.O.S.S., following the retirement of H.T. Stitfold.  I met then a lady of singularly handsome appearance, the possessor of a deep and wonderfully rich speaking voice.   She had a razor sharp agile mind, and an unselfconscious charm, which I was soon to find served her well in gaining entry to places and the minds of persons who volunteered assistance in the production of welfare schemes which flowed in abundance from that strongly developed social conscience of hers - a conscience which was the product, I would guess, of her youthful liberal English background and upbringings.  She was in the tradition and mould of William Beveridge.

She had become a dinkum Aussie the very hard way.  In her recently published autobiography (how happy we are that she was able to see it published before her last illness), written in characteristically modest style, we have to read between the lines to understand the pain and hardships endured during her early life in the 1920s on small south-west settlements and again in a later period establishing herself in the metropolis she served so well.

She reached the plenitude of her remarkable administrative and socially creative powers at a time of life when most women would be contemplating retirement from the public forum.  Her achievements in middle and late life were quite extraordinary:

Helping to establish the Soroptomist movement in Perth;

Putting the C.O.S.S. on a firm footing as an influential body identifying welfare needs, catalysing social change;

Establishing the C.A.B.;

Organising facilities for latch key kids;

Establishing the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service;

Promoting C.H.A.P.S. - holidays for disadvantaged children;

Establishing Beehive Industries

plus a list that half fills a Directory of Social Services.

But behind the baldly stated facts is the emotional involvement that many of us here today enjoyed in our association with her.  We call to mind her infectious energy, the good humour and sense of fun that she conveyed and above all, the sense of purpose and the vitality she brought to life and living.

The 1950s and 1960s was a great period in the social history of this State a time of hope, of expansion, and of the creation of important new institutions.  Historians will doubtless record the notable contributions that Mrs Ruston has made to the welfare of our people.

St Paul exhorted the Romans to identify their individual talents and for the love of Christ, to exploit those recognised talents for the love of mankind.  He would have been proud of his spiritual daughter.  She leaves the community she served a happier place.  In her life she achieved for her sex, in her quiet but dogged way, a dignity where others more strident have perhaps been less successful.

We are sad that she has left us, but we rejoice in the memory of a warm, loving, graceful, charming, creative, vital grand dame.

This picture was taken of Mum when she was 80 and attending her granddaughter's wedding on 11th November, 1977.  I truly love this photograph of her.  I think the goodness shines out of her face.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed mum's story, perhaps it may even be an inspiration to some.  The story has now ended as has that wonderful life but there will be bits and pieces in the coming days continuing on this wonderful story.  Thank you, once again, for taking such an interest in it.


  1. What a lovely and heart felt eulogy to a very special woman. Thank you so much for telling us about her. And yes, she is inspirational. As so few people are...

  2. A truly wonderful eulogy and a gorgeous photo of your mum.

  3. Hari OM
    Oh Mimsie, that was a moving tribute...and a very very fine way to conclude this 'tale'. Thank you for sharing her with us, for as much as it was about your mother, it was also social history of significance! YAM xx

  4. I think you are right, Mimsie. The photo is "alive" with goodness!!...:)JP

  5. A fitting tribute to a remarkable woman.

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