Scott Routledge advised us that his aunt, Miss Dawn Routledge, passed away on 13 Mar 2020 aged 89. Dawn worked for the ANZ almost exclusively in the Mornington branch from the early 1950s until the mid 1980s, and was also manager of the Mt Martha sub-branch for a year or two in the early 80s.
Our condolences are extended to Dawn's family.
Eulogy for Dawn Routledge
11 Feb 1931 - 13 Mar 2020
Welcome / Introduction
Thank you everyone for coming along today to remember the life of Dawn - we really appreciate your attendance and support, especially in such stressful times. We'd also like to acknowledge the several friends and relatives who were unable to be here - thank you for your kind thoughts and condolences. A particular mention to Dawn's cousin Helen England who has recently entered aged care in Camberwell, and her friend Anna McKenzie who lives in Tasmania - neither of whom could be here today.
Dawn was born in the inner Melbourne suburb of Windsor on the 11th of February 1931. When she was still just a toddler, her parents Dale and Bon moved the family to the then quiet town of Mornington where Dawn's grandparents had a house on Barkly St. Dale had been a teacher at Brighton Grammar, but in Mornington he started a wireless sales and repair business on Main St called Peninsula Radio. In those early years the Routledges lived in various rental houses in Baroona St, Burwood Ave, and Grange Rd, and Dawn started Kindergarten and then pre-school at Miss McClays. In 1935 Dawn's baby brother Wayne was born, and soon after Dawn started primary school at Miss McKillops.
By this stage Dawn had formed two very close friendships: with Pat Pelling (later Pat Wallis who lived on Barkly St nearby) and with Anna Searle (later Anna McKenzie - who lived on the Esplanade on the way to Mt Martha). Outside of school hours, Dawn would enjoy riding bicycles with her friend Anna - and riding Anna's pony - and close to Pat's house, exploring the nearby dam where she and Pat would catch frogs and yabbies. In the warmer months the Routledges would frequent their usual spot at Shire Hall beach, with Pat's family just around the point at Mills beach. Another close friendship developed between Dawn and Val Smith, whose family had recently arrived from England and lived close by. Later in life Val was to become Matron at the Mornington Bush Hospital (now - The Bays hospital which Dawn's father had helped raise funds to construct in the late 1930s). But as it was for so many families, in 1939 Dawn's happy childhood was shaken when her father (who she was so close to)
headed off to war - not to return until 1945. Dale had been captured on Crete and held Prisoner of War in Poland, and for a time, Bon, Dawn and Wayne would not have known if he was alive. The Smiths provided wonderful support for Bon and her children while Dale was away at war. Throughout this period there would typically have been family evenings by the wireless listening to various radio shows and the all important war news, and weekly outings to the Mornington Cinema on Main St to see news reels and feature films. We were chatting with Pat a couple of days ago, and one of her memories of this era was that Keppy (Dawn and Wayne's dog) would often follow and go in to the cinema with them! (It was certainly a different time). Through their common involvement with St Peters church in Mornington, Dawn got to know Joan Birch (later Joan Winkley). When Dale was eventually repatriated to Australia he had been away for over five years and like so many servicemen - returned home in poor health.
After one year of high school at Frankston High, Dawn was then able to attend Toorak College in Mt Eliza where she applied herself to her studies and regularly received good grades. Later the family purchased 'Red Gables', a large, white weatherboard house on a double block at 21 Balcombe Street - still close to Pat's house and also not too far from the beach. Dawn had also become friends with Helen Prosser (later Helen Chitts) who was a younger girl who lived nearby in Balcombe St. Dawn completed her matriculation year (the equivalent of yr 12) which was not that common for girls in that era, but she was understandably disappointed when her father then told her that the family could not afford for her to attend university (like he had), despite her academic promise.
Dawn started her working life in the late 1940s at the Mornington Library, adjacent to the Mechanics Hall on Main St. She worked there for around three years before becoming a teller at the ANZ Bank in Mornington (where her brother Wayne had also recently started work). Of interest is that Dawn's grandfather Richard Routledge had been a bank manager in Wangaratta back at the turn of the century. In the 1960s Helen Prosser started employment at Mornington ANZ so for some years she and Dawn were able to work together. Helen coincidentally was also involved in the local church theatre group (the CEF Players) where my parents Wayne and Claire met. Another bank friend that needs mentioning is Jean Stanway. Dawn and Jean remained good friends well after Jean got married and left the ANZ.
Dawn was dedicated, capable and respected for her professionalism at work, but her advancement and job roles were somewhat limited as she was not often prepared to work at other branches away from Mornington. At one point she even turned down an offer of working as a travel consultant for the bank - a dream job that most would jump at. A big part of her hesitancy to spread her wings would have been the failing health of her mother. By the later 50s and in to the 60s Bon's health had declined and there was an expectation from her parents that other than working at the local branch, Dawn stay at home to help with domestic chores and care for her mother.
In March 1962 Dawn was bridesmaid at mum and dad's wedding, with her niece (my sister Sue) born in '65, and her nephew (me) in '68. By 1966 Bon's health had declined to the point where she needed full-time care in a nursing home in Frankston, and she was eventually diagnosed with a form of Multiple Sclerosis. For Dawn this must have been a very stressful and emotional period, and she would visit her almost every day, ever dutiful in caring for her mother. By the early 70s Dale's condition also worsened, and an army friend convinced him to transfer from the Mornington Bush Hospital to the repatriation hospital in Macleod. This made it very difficult for Dawn to visit her father other than on weekends, and then sadly, in April 1973 Bon passed away followed in June, by Dale. This would have been devastating for Dawn and she now found herself struggling to maintain the house and garden at the family home.
1974 saw Red Gables sold (it had been her fond family home for many years) and Dawn moved in to Unit 2, No.5 Marine Avenue - a two-bedroom unit within walking distance of Main St, and also close to Fisherman's Beach. Also of note in 1974 was that Fiona Tucker commenced working at Mornington ANZ, and she and Dawn developed a fond working relationship over the subsequent years. Later, Dawn was selected to manage a sub-branch of the ANZ located at Mt Martha - recognition of her experience and expertise. Dawn was to live at Marine Avenue for 18 years, and I have very fond memories of visiting her there on weekends. Dawn enjoyed growing climbing beans and rhubarb and had an impressive lemon tree. Sue reminded us fondly that Dawn was often keen to collect dried cow manure for fertilising her veggie patch from the cow paddock behind our holiday house at Mt Martha. It was quite a sight to see her climb through the wire fence with gloves and a plastic bag, and there was also the hope of finding a few mushrooms as well. At her unit she would often have a jigsaw puzzle on the go on the kitchen table and it was always a treat to be allowed to help complete it. She also fostered an interest in stamps in me (as she had done
with my cousin Michael in years prior) and she would give me the occasional stamp to further my modest collection. During summertime she would often go swimming as many as three times a day, clearly taking advantage of her lunch hour, and Mornington's lovely beaches. Many of these swims would be with her good friend Pat, and they would also take lengthy walks with Pat and Peter's dogs Star and Brandy.
The spare room at Marine Ave would usually be full of clutter due to Dawn's passion for stamp collecting - a hobby that started back in her childhood and now, with her full focus, evolved in to developing a Captain Cook thematic collection that Dawn would enter in various Australian and international stamp exhibitions and competitions over the years. She was always interested in explorers, particularly Cook and his three famous voyages. Dawn became involved with various stamp clubs, would purchase expensive, rare stamps from around the world to enhance her collection, and won several awards - some of which you'll see on display in the adjoining room after the service. In 1988 a replica of Cook's ship (the Endeavour) visited Mornington pier as part of Australia's bicentennial celebrations and Dawn was thrilled to be able to go on board and even take the helm.
Dawn also had a long friendship with her cousin Helen, who had started visiting Mornington (and of course Dawn) back in the 1930s when Helen's family would stay for summers in their holiday house on Northcote Terrace near the Esplanade. Now, Helen's mother had also recently passed and Helen had also moved from her long-term family home into her own place, so she and Dawn found a lot in common and were no-doubt great support for one another.
In the mid 1980s Dawn had a medical scare. She had a TIA or 'mini-stroke' at work and needed hospitalisation, followed by a period of rehabilitation. Despite returning to fairly good health, this event led to Dawn's retirement and the conclusion of well over 30 years working for the ANZ in Mornington.
Retirement and holidays
In 1991 whilst walking with Pat, Dawn noticed a block under development with three units being constructed at 44 Wilsons Rd, the front one was to have three bedrooms. This was a chance to modernise, move even closer to Fisherman's beach, and most importantly gain a dedicated stamp room that wouldn't need to be disturbed when visitors stayed over. She purchased off the plan and moved in April 1992. Dawn was very happy in her new unit, and was intrigued when soon, a cheeky neighbourhood cat began visiting. Dawn would cuddle and feed
the cat, and the cat would visit more often and stay longer, until the cat may as well have been hers. She named her 'Smudge' due to her fur markings, and Dawn and Smudge would be best of friends for over twenty years. Her friend Helen Chitts later purchased the rear unit on the same block, and the two would be close neighbours for many years, with Friday afternoon drinks and nibbles a regular occurrence.
Dawn was most definitely conservative in her thinking and with her financial management; not that surprising given her long career in the bank. Her friend Helen recalls Dawn's preference for bargain-priced tap pack wine, despite it's questionable taste, and I certainly remember that she would emphasize the importance of saving at any relevant opportunity, but she was also inherently a generous person when it came to birthday and Christmas gifts, and she enjoyed the company of good friends and family. I also know that she frequently donated to many medical research institutes and also in particular to animal welfare charities. This was no surprise given her interest in the natural world - Dawn had subscribed to National Geographic for many, many years, and her unit still has several bookshelves sagging from the weight of the hundreds of these magazines. She was also a long-suffering armchair Melbourne Demons football fan (something I also share) and it was not uncommon to visit and find her with that weeks football game showing on the TV. She new many of the player names and had her favourites each season. It's also important that I mention that Dawn was a Godmother to her neice Susie, to Anna's son Robert McKenzie, and also to Helen Chitt's son Adam.
Dawn enjoyed many holidays throughout her life; the first major one was with her good friends Pat and Peter Wallis in the early 1960s. They drove up to Queensland (staying in Kings Cross of all places, along the way), their destination being Happy Bay on Long Island in the Whitsundays. They stayed in basic cabins on the beachfront, did reef tours on a glass bottom boat, swam daily at the beaches, and even had a close encounter with some giant cane toads! This must have been an amazing experience for a young woman who had only ever travelled to Melbourne and regional Victoria. Over the years Dawn enjoyed several other major holiday trips. There was Singapore and Bali with Wayne and Claire in the mid 70s, a Pacific P&O cruise with our whole family in 1978, Hawaii with Pat and Peter in the early 80s where she was able to visit the site of Cook's death, and in the 1990s, a three month tour of the UK and Scandinavia with her cousin Helen. Mum and dad took Dawn to Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast and also took her to far north Queensland, she visited her friend Anna in Tasmania, and the list of trips goes on. When in aged care she was
asked about her favourite holiday; Dawn was quick to state that it was a trip to New Zealand in the 1970s with her friend Val Smith that held the fondest memories. No doubt this trip would have included visits to many historic Cook sites!
By around 2010 Dawn was having more difficulties with her health. She had become quite sedentary, could no longer drive, and needed help with domestic chores and dealing with her financial affairs. Wayne and Claire acted as her Powers of Attorney for some time, and by 2012 had organised for her to receive in-home care through the Andrew Ker aged care group. In October of 2016 Dawn needed to move in to permanent residential aged care, and she chose Corowa Court on the Mornington Esplanade, only 500m from her home at 44 Wilsons Rd and with views out over her beloved Fisherman's beach. This was definitely the right choice for Dawn, and through the three and a half years she was a resident, the nursing team and carers did a wonderful job looking after her, allowing her dignity, and providing genuine compassion. She received regular visits from many different friends and family throughout this time; most often from her lifelong friend Pat. In September last year we had to deliver the sad news to Dawn that her brother Wayne had passed away, but her dementia was at such a stage that she perhaps never quite understood or accepted that this had happened.
Soon after dad's passing, Dawn's health declined further and she was in and out of hospital with low blood pressure until the medical advice was that she would be most comfortable back at Corowa Court surrounded by familiar faces of the lovely nurses and carers and back in her familiar routine. Dawn remained on comfort care for over four months. She celebrated her 89th birthday on the 11th of February this year, and passed away peacefully at around 3:30am on the 13th of March.
Dawn was a Mornington girl through-and-through, lucky enough to have lived almost her entire life in this special place.
She is at peace now, but we will miss her dearly.