Louise Collom: Family, faith and a mum to many
LOUISE Collom never knew her own father and growing up had very little family around her at all.
But she made up for it in her own life, having seven children, 20 grandchildren, and investing into the lives of countless others through her work in Sunshine Coast schools for more than 30 years.
Born in Victoria in 1946 to Myrtle Lewis and an unknown father she was raised by her grandfather, and her mum, who had early onset dementia.
Her grandfather made a lasting impact on her life, as he was faithful and kind-hearted, but unfortunately, he passed away not long after her eighth birthday.
Louise then stayed with her mother for a few months and they would regularly visit a local park.
"At the park, Louise would hear a children's ministry singing songs about Jesus and about a Heavenly Father,'' her eldest daughter Rachael revealed in an eulogy read at her celebration of life at Gregson and Weight in Nambour.
"As she had never known her own father, she was drawn to these children, which is where she first heard about the love of Jesus, and that she could also have a relationship with a 'Heavenly Father.'
"Louise often went to the park and learned about the gospel of Christ in those months.
"Unfortunately, Myrtle was unable to care for Louise on her own, and Mum found herself in a Presbyterian Children's home that same year where she stayed until her eighteenth birthday.
"As the home was built on Christian values, Louise was able to continue to learn about God."
It was at a Billy Graham Crusade in 1959, at the age of 13, that Louise became a follower of Christ.
"This forever changed the trajectory of her life and became the focus in all that she did."
"Mum was very independent and went off to Teachers College after High School and then taught Prep at Bayswater Primary School.
"She then met Ivan Collom, an apprentice in optical finishing, at a local church group and discovered he also was saved at a Billy Graham crusade, ten years after her!"
"Mum was in the musician's group at the church where she sang and played guitar. "Dad asked to join, as he could play the bongos…….but apparently they didn't have much use for the bongos in their group!
"Ivan worked up the courage to ask Louise out to an Andre Crouch concert in the city - but when he got to her door to ask her out…...she was busy and couldn't come to the door…..so unsure of what to do next, Ivan asked her flatmate out instead!!
"This was not ideal, and Louise was pretty cranky about it! Fortunately, he was quickly forgiven, and he continued to pursue Louise.
"They married in Melbourne on the 16th December 1972, and did two years of Bible College together.
Once married, they bought their first property at Boronia Heights and began their family, starting with Rachael Jane and then Deborah Ellen. They then moved to East Kelior, where Stephen Mark and Christy Sheree were born.
"We then moved to a larger home in Gladstone Park, as the family was growing - and along came Danielle Rebekah.
"Then little Jessica Joy joined us, as the sixth child, born on Christmas Day.
"I remember the special moments sitting up late with Mum on Christmas Eve, watching Carols by Candlelight and Mum telling me about the first pangs of labour. "Jessica's birth on Christmas morning became a learning experience for us older children, and we stayed at the hospital overnight - even joining in on a Christmas Day lunch!
"Mum loved all her daughters, and always wanted a large family to compensate for the lack of family she had when growing up, however, she only had one beautiful boy, Stephen Mark, but no brother for him to play with!!!
"What to do? Have a seventh child of course! And along came Andy, Andrew Benjamin. And the quiver of arrows was complete! Seven children to Louise and Ivan!
"What patience, endurance and sacrifice ensued in order that we lack nothing. The grace of the Lord was upon Ivan and Louise as they raised us according to the word of God.
"Mum dedicated herself to her husband and children, giving us a wonderful childhood full of precious memories, pearls of wisdom and biblical values.
"Then came the move to QLD, so that us kids could attend the Christian School Mum and Dad had heard so much about - Christian Outreach College it was called back in the day. And we started at the school the following year - all six of us (Andrew was too young for school at that time).
"The following years were filled with many changes for us kids, for some of us it was the onset of adolescence (with all of its challenges), getting drivers licences, finishing school with honours, becoming musicians, moving overseas, going on missions and ministry trips, graduating university, marriages, births, trials and accomplishments and Louise took it all in her stride.
"Some things were easy, and some things were hard and yet Mum's grace and unconditional love found a way to make things smoother. Her heart was always with her family and her family always had her in their hearts. It didn't matter where we were, or what we were doing, Mum would find a way to make us feel understood, cared for and blessed.
"Mum loved to be generous, to give to her children and her grandchildren. She paid for school fees, gave out loans, paid for youth camps and conferences, paid for music lessons, holidays, outings, birthdays, and contributed to whatever she could, whenever she could - because Mum knew the power of investment - sowing a seed and watching it grow.
"She gave of her time - time to look after her grandchildren, teaching them values and showing them love.
"She also gave her time to teach the gospel, in her earlier years it was Sunday School, then later in life - she found the joy of teaching Religious Instruction in schools - and this was one of her passions in life.
"Mum's marriage to Dad was set to see its 48th year this December. And never have I seen a couple more joined to the hip, two peas in a pod.
"They did everything together. Their love was, and is, so evident, in all its simplicity and humility - no grand gestures, just genuine care and commitment through the ages.
"Just loyalty, trust, understanding and compatibility. It has been such an inspiration to all of us. Now Dad has Louise in his heart, in his mind and in eternity. We will miss her dearly but know we will see her again."
Tribute from daughter Deborah Tweedale
I just want to honour my mum, Louise Collom! She was raised single-handedly by her ill mother for approximately the first 9yrs of her life and then in a 'home' set up by the church for children.
She was determined to have a big family, became a teacher, met my Dad and raised us 7 children!!
Raising a big family is never an easy, especially only on my Dad's small income... however she sacrificed so many luxuries of life to give us every opportunity possible!
From music lessons to tennis and dance and private school tuition. I was a shy girl and she was always my biggest fan, pushing me to overcome my fears, especially in the rhelm of music and singing (which later became one of my biggest joys).
She always taught me that 'nothing is impossible' and 'where there is a will, there is a way'...She introduced me to the hope I have in Christ, in this life and the next.
I would never be who I am today if it wasn't for her. Now being a mother myself to 6 children, I understand to some degree, the sacrifices she made and how great her love is!
She has been my biggest support through motherhood. However, her love never stopped with us, but extended to the in-laws and others who needed a place to stay (when they had nowhere to go). She also taught RI over 30yrs in various schools on the coast..if only I could be just half the mum that you have been to me."