A woman's legacy after a life of loving, caring for others
JOAN Donald (nee Poole) spent so much time making sure others felt loved, that she didn't notice the indelible mark she left on all who met her.
One of Ipswich's first Blue Nurses, Joan dedicated most of her working life to assisting the elderly.
Joan commenced as a Blue Nurse in November 1955.
As part of her job, she was on call 24 hours per day and often spent an entire night comforting patients before having a quick rest and going to work the next day.
Following a 15-year absence after her marriage to Howard on December 6, 1958, Joan returned to nursing at Bundaleer Lodge, North Ipswich, later returning to the Blue Nurses where she became the weekend sister at Nowlanvil Nursing Home in Raceview.
Daughter Debra Toomey said her mother went to great lengths to make the residents feel at home.
"Joan worked in Kelston House and she would move in at 7am on Saturday and stay at Kelston House until 7am Monday," Debra said.
"When she came to the nursing home they would have sing-alongs each Saturday.
"There were monthly birthday parties, one wedding, and the annual fete that Joan organised.
"Mother's and Father's Day were special and Joan would make corsages for the patients to wear.
"Joan would also organise the New Year's Party each year and have games organised, delicious nibbles and lots of sing-alongs."
In 2006 Joan was honoured as a finalist in the Health Professional Of the Year Award with the Ipswich City Council.
She retired four years later - aged 78 - after 32 years of service to the Blue Nurses, and was named Queensland Blue Nurse of the Year for her dedication.
In addition to her role as a nurse, Joan collected for the Blue Nurses at the Annual Door Knock Appeal. In those days the Blue Nurses did not receive any government funding.
When asked about the achievement at the time, she said: "I did what I did at Blue Care because of the example set by other dedicated people who went before me.
"What I enjoyed most was making every resident feel at home, in a place filled with kind and compassionate people who ensured that the patients were happy, comfortable and loved."
Born on June 20, 1932, at St Andrews Hospital, Joan went to primary school in Fernvale.
Joan's father was a lay preacher and his influence was strong, with the church becoming a big part of her life.
She later instilled those same values in her own children.
She started nursing training at Royal Brisbane Hospital in 1950 and finished in 1954.
She completed midwifery training in Sydney before working at Esk Hospital for six months while waiting to start with the Blue Nurses.
Joan and Howard had three children, Debra, John and Scott, before divorcing.
"We are all so proud of how well she did raising a family as a single mum back then," Scott said
"What she enjoyed most about those years of service was making every resident feel at home.
"She wanted to ensure that they were comfortable and loved."
Joan had eight grandchildren.
She was impressed when the first grandson arrived on his father's birthday.
Joan has two great-grandchildren, Emelia and Harvey, who she adored.
"Joan was a special woman who left a lasting impression on people when they met her, yet she was too humble to even recognise that about herself."
Debra said her mum was also a hero of the 1974 floods, ferrying food to residents and volunteers working during the clean up in the badly hit area of North Booval.
"Our house was okay, so we ended up with all the animals from the small farms at the end of North Station Road, in our backyard," Debra said.
"Mum arranged a team of ladies from the local community to bake cakes and slices and make sandwiches, for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea for all the people working on the clean up.
"She would drive up and down in the car the whole time making sure the residents and volunteers were okay and ensured that all those people had food and drinks as they worked for more than a week on the flood-damaged houses."
Joan passed away on November 15, aged 86.
Scott said the family was still coming to terms with their loss.
"We all expected at least another decade of treasuring our precious mum and all her thoughtful ways," he said.
"I will always remember my mum as kind, loving and gracious, independent and an absolute tower of strength who always pressed on, even when times were tough: and never tired of her love and support of her family."