Even amid her health setbacks, Robin Cole always wanted to know about other people's welfare.
The woman with seemingly endless warmth was remembered for her selflessness and caring outlook at a funeral service at Saint Saviour's Cathedral on Friday, October 20.
Her son, David, said his mother welcomed everyone into their home.
"She had a big smile for everyone," he said in his eulogy.
"Even in her later years when her health was failing, she would always ask people questions about them and how they were going."
Robin Cole died on October 9, 2023, aged eighty-eight. She was well known in the Goulburn community for her work as a teacher, activities coordinator in the health and aged care sectors and as the city's 'lady mayoress' in the early 1980s.
David said his mother suffered cancer three times throughout her life but had "an amazing constitution," perhaps forged from her rural upbringing.
She was one of two girls, including elder sister Marie, born to George and Edna Alders. She grew up on the family property, Holmbrae at Bannaby, north of Taralga. Robin loved helping George around the farm, despite her father's concerns that she learnt many new "colourful" words in the shearing shed.
Her mother delivered school correspondence lessons but at age 12, Robin joined Marie at boarding school in Maitland where their auntie, Eileen, taught.
Three years was enough and Robin returned to help George on the merino sheep property.
She played tennis on the court George built on an old ants nest and developed a lifelong love of the sport.
Robin also joined Taralga Young Anglicans, where she made posters promoting the dances.
"Mum's life changed when she met a dashing young teacher named Keith Cole in Taralga," David said.
"He was the teacher at the one-teacher school at Myrtleville. Keith told me he fell in love with mum when she converted a try for the Taralga Tigers (rugby team). This was a match where women donned the jumpers and played, as well."
David described his mother as "a looker." Keith had to fend off numerous suitors before they married at Taralga's Saint Luke's Anglican church in the late 1950s.
Rob said his mother supported Keith in his various teacher postings around NSW. Robin taught sewing, art and craft, which also became lifelong passions.
Their two sons, including Robert, were born in the 1960s and the family settled in Goulburn in 1970 where Keith became Bourke Street Public School principal. In 1977, Keith was elected to Goulburn City Council, beginning a 26-year involvement which included stints as deputy mayor (1981-82) and mayor (1982-85).
Life was busy but Robin created a loving, nurturing family life. Robert said his mother encouraged he and David with "love and enthusiasm" in all their recreational pursuits, which were usually sport and music-related.
Once the boys were independent, Robin won a scholarship to study teaching at the Goulburn College of Advanced Education, now the NSW Police Academy. During this time she worked at Goulburn Base Hospital's sterilising unit. Later, Robin taught at Crookwell and Bourke Street school.
Robert said his mother was diagnosed with cancer while teaching at Crookwell. Robin eventually changed tack and became an activities supervisor at the then Saint John of God Hospital.
"She absolutely relished organising entertainment for the elderly and formed many staunch friendships that permanently remained," Robert said in his eulogy.
"During this time I remember her organising us and others to sing Christmas carols room-to-room for the patients each year, followed by the compulsory feast."
Later, she undertook in-home care for the elderly and people with other abilities. Robin also worked for many years as activities coordinator at the Masonic aged care facility.
Her caring nature extended to animals, including cats. Rob recalled that his mother had fallen from an assemblage of furniture on the kitchen table one night. She had been feeding kittens in the roof cavity and fell, puncturing her lung.
"In hospital...all she was concerned about was whether I would keep feeding the kittens," he laughed.
David reflected that his mother had been described as a 'natural Buddhist,' despite her Anglican faith.
"She had a grace and affinity with all living things," he said.
"She was one of the few people I know who could just sit in the sun, content with her own thoughts. She would notice things, like lizards and other small creatures going about their business from her back verandah, as well as what plants were coming into bloom..."
In later life, Robin travelled extensively and loved caring for and spending time with her grandchildren. As her children reflected, there was always an endless supply of treats and "what happened at Nan's stayed at Nan's."
Deteriorating health forced her move to Masonic aged care facility about one year ago. David told the congregation his only solace at such a sad time was that his mother was relieved of her suffering.
"So my beautiful, irreplaceable mother - you are not gone - you will be with me every day - just on another plane," he said.
Robert said one of his mother's last outings was to the Taralga Show in March - "a beautiful bookend to an extraordinary life of light and love."
- With thanks to David and Robert Cole for their assistance.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: